Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 9, 2013

Rob Ford: Life can be like a drawer of T-shirts

Local columnist

---- — Is it possible that the human condition can be explained simply by examining the contents of our T-shirt drawers?

In my T-shirt drawer, I have at least 40 shirts. Shirts from places we traveled to, shirts from places other people have traveled to, shirts from places that serve food and places that make food, and shirts that have food spilled on them.

Lots and lots and lots of T-shirts crammed into one dresser drawer.

Of all those shirts, I wear about five of them.

The same thing goes for the collection of the other clothing that hangs in my closet. I manage to grab the same favorite threads work week in and work week out.

The same managerial plan goes with the coat closet and the box of golf hats that are on the top shelf in there. Plenty to chose from, but only a couple of favorites ever see the light of day.

So why not get rid of those that I keep in the reserves?

No way! I love that “Ron Jon Surf Shop” T-shirt and the one I got when I ran a 5K and the one they gave me when I gave blood and the one I got for volunteering at ... Just wait, I will wear them again … someday … probably.

Every unworn shirt has a story silk-screened across it. They’re not just shirts; they’re an ongoing road map of life. My very own 50-percent-cotton, extra-large commemoration of the path my life has taken.

Now, juxtapose this humble T-shirt drawer against the management of my life.

The average pizza restaurant offers about 30 toppings from anchovies to zucchini, yet I order the same ham and pineapple pizza nearly every single time. Occasionally, I’ll get something different, but yeah, there’s probably room for a 16-inch Hawaiian pizza in my T-shirt drawer … of life.

Do you watch television? Again, I’ve got an unlimited supply of stuff to watch, but what do I usually end up watching? Unless something really great is on, I end up watching the same handful of things I always watch.

Are you with me?

We all come from families of varying sizes, and I’m sure that you must have lots of friends. No matter the size of our families or the cache of friends that we have amassed, we probably manage them just like our T-shirts.

They could be imaginary friends or they could be honest-to-goodness flesh-and-blood friends. But I’ll bet that time and again, when you are getting a group together, you’re comfortable with the same ones most of the time.

So, as the seasons change, do yourself a favor. Go through this T-shirt drawer of life.

It will only take a minute and you’ll probably bag up a few shirts and drop them off at one of our finer thrift stores. The good thing is that you will end up with a little breathing room in one drawer, at least.

The better thing is that some of those shirts will give you a laugh or two or spark a special memory.

Next thing you know, you’ll be ordering a calzone, turning off the TV and talking to an old friend.

Rob Ford was born and raised in northern Michigan. He lives in Elk Rapids where he owns and operates Riverside Title. He can be reached via email at