The Old Coot tears through his clothes

I bought a new shirt the other day. It was a rare find – a blue, oxford cloth, button-down collar vintage masterpiece. It’s my favorite shirt. When I wear one, I feel invincible, ready to take on the day (an old coot day, anyhow). Most people have a feel-good item of this sort in their wardrobe. I have six of these shirts, three on active duty and three in reserve. When I find one, I buy it. They get in the mix one or two times a week. 

Am I stuck in a fashion rut? You bet – this obsession has been going on since I was in 7th grade and the official dress code was an oxford cloth, button down collar shirt (usually blue, but also blue or gray stripped), cotton khaki pants and white bucks. I’m still at it – I don’t have the white bucks; mine are tan.

Anyhow, I took the shirt out of the bag, started to unfold it and hit a snag. The sleeves were bolted to the body of the shirt with two plastic fasteners – the kind that make a tear when you yank the fastened sections apart. Which I did, knowing better, but too lazy to get up and get the scissors. I was rewarded with a small tear in the back of the shirt. Then, I got the scissors. One tear was enough.

I hate those things, those little “Capital I” shaped nuisances that have replaced straight pins that once held clothing articles in a flattering pose. Just about everything you buy these days is loaded with “I” fasteners or other plastic devices. It’s a challenge to free your purchase from bondage. You need scissors or a knife, and sometimes a pair of wire cutters.

The “I” shaped fasteners used in clothing annoy me the most; they were invented by two engineers working for the Dennison Manufacturing Company – Jerry Merser and Arnold Bone. The “I” shaped fastener is just one of many diabolical devices now included in the “Swiftach” system of fasteners which went into use starting in the mid 1960’s. It was first used to attach price tags. Clerks did it by hand up to that point, a labor-intensive process. It only takes a second to insert an “I” fastener using an insertion pistol. (No pistol permit needed for this menace to society.)  

It’s used for more than attaching price tags these days; clothing is rife with them, to better display a garment (holding it hostage, in my view). They’re like fish hooks; they go in easy but are impossible to get out without tearing a hole. Scissors are mandatory. 

Look around – you’ll see it isn’t just old coots that sport small rips and tears in their clothing. A lot of people do, especially men, who won’t take the time to get scissors and avoid the damage. Old coots like me don’t mind a rip or two; it distracts from the coffee, mustard and spaghetti stains that decorate our clothes. 

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