Monday, October 26, 2009

Green-Hooded Sweatshirt

I just found out that my favorite thing—a neon green Ohio University sweatshirt—was made in the Sub-Saharan Kingdom of Lesotho, a country that has the highest low point in the world, a legacy of rulers named Moshoeshoe, and a teeming garment industry.

I don't know much about labor issues, and so I don't presume to condemn the manufacturer Jansport like I'm some sort of sentimental Sally Struthers; I do feel uneasy, though, that an object I set out to rhapsodize today—this hoody that was Megan's first Christmas present to me—probably came from the hands of the put-upon.

46,000 women work in Lesotho's clothing factories, mostly in the capital of Maseru. Most make less than a dollar an hour and 43% have HIV.

I probably shouldn't have looked at the tag.

I could have written instead that, missing Megan while we were apart for those three years, I used to wear my sweatshirt for an entire weekend at a time.

That the gift made me feel comfortable about being in Ohio at all, gave me a small bit of ownership of it.

That the hoody has a bleach stain that looks like a bobcat's paw.

That I like to hold Megan's hands in its front pocket on Fall (and non-Fall) days.

That I slept in it all through the winter I lived in the drafty Grosvenor St. house with the defective heat.

That it's the first thing I put on out of the wash.

I could have amusingly digressed into a discussion of what I want to be buried in. About how I'd like to go to my eternal rest (in, say, 2077) laid on my side instead of my back, stocked up with snacks, ensconsced in neon green.

I could have discussed the rhetorical device I've been using throughout this post.

I could have even included this video, since I do, in fact, love you, sweatshirt.

And it's okay, of course, to bring up those things even in light of my new knowledge about the woman—in bright bandana and day-dreaming—who machine-stitched the shirt six years ago.

“The test of a first-rate intelligence,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald, “is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

As you can tell, I'm a second-rater at best, but I do like to function, so I prefer to think that the gift still has its original heft. Only now, instead of reminding me of one person, it will sometimes remind me of two.


Jana said...

What a great post, Dave.

Jeff said...

First Rate!

Theron Hesper said...

It is good to see posts that give truly quality information. Great post.

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