Friday, July 22, 2011

Santa Barbara, North Carolina


I have mentioned in a couple of posts about the wonderful three days I spent recently in Santa Barbara, California. At church on Sunday morning while there I noticed a number of men wearing traditional Hawaiian-style shirts: loose, square tails worn out, open collars, and beautiful designs and patterns. I wasn't surprised—I've always loved some of these shirts I've seen over the years, especially black ones with huge, white and pink and red hibiscus-family flowers on them.

So Sunday afternoon, my friend Priscilla and I walked up and down the eclectic and charming State Street, Santa Barbara's "Main Street," looking at Hawaiian shirts. We stopped in The Territory Ahead's outlet store and retail store, as well as several smaller shops that had new and vintage shirts. We saw a number of interesting shirts—especially the "real" ones made out of rayon that drapes so nicely—but nothing really stood out. Besides, I was having a hard time convincing myself that I, back in Charlotte (okay, Stallings—even worse), North Carolina, needed a Hawaiian shirt. So I came home without one. No harm, no foul. Life moved on.

A couple of days after being back I came across a video interview with John Lasseter, the Oscar-winning head of Pixar Studios (Toy Story, Cars, etc.). Turns out he's a Hawaiian shirt freak, wearing a different one to work each day, matching the design on the shirt with what he would be working on that day at Pixar (e.g., a shirt with vintage cars on it when working on Cars). The video interview showed him in his house-sized closet at his home where he had 370 different Hawaiian shirts neatly hanging, organized by themes (with another 630 shirts in storage for lack of space in the closet—1,000 Hawaiian shirts total).

I was so turned off with this conspicuous consumption (okay, maybe that would be me if I had a zillion dollars like Lasseter) that I sent the video link to Priscilla with sort of a "see where this Hawaiian shirt thing could lead?" kind of attitude. Nonetheless, she did her research thing and sent me some links to online sources for Hawaiian shirts. "Nope," I wrote back. "I'm not buying a shirt. It's the last thing I need." Case close. Life moved on.

So today I ran an errand to Costco and was cutting through the men's clothing section on the way to get white vinegar when a table of beautiful Hawaiian shirts grabbed me by the tail of my T-shirt and pulled me over. Hawaiian shirts at a Costco in Charlotte? Was I wrong about these shirts being out of place in Charlotte? Apparently so! I caved.

$15 later (a bargain compared to Santa Barbara prices!) I was the colorful owner of my first (and hopefully last) Hawaiian shirt. Having gotten that out of my system, life can finally move on. (I am available for pool parties and vegan luaus within a 50-mile radius of Charlotte. Heck, make it 100.)


Epilogue: While standing in the check-out line at Costco with my shirt sitting protected in the cart's baby seat, there was a friendly looking guy standing behind me, a bit younger than me. I pointed at the shirt: "Think I can get away with wearing that in Charlotte?"

He studied the shirt and smiled: "Sure."

I told him I'd seen lots of guys wearing them in church in California a couple weeks earlier and finally decided to get one. "I guess if God doesn't mind seeing them in church, I shouldn't mind wearing one," I said.

"He doesn't care what we wear," the guy said, "as long as we're there."

Charlotte is one of the (few?) large cities in America where you don't hesitate to mention church to a stranger in the check-out line at Costco. I wasn't too sure about the shirt, but apparently God and Hawaiian shirts have bonded in my hometown. And I'm down.

Pass the pineapple, ya'll.

1 comment:

  1. Priscilla SoleilJuly 27, 2011 at 3:05 AM

    Well, it's a perfect NC summer shirt from my perspective...although, you may not get away with in the winter, like you would here in Santa Barbara :D!