Out damned spot


I was doing my laundry this morning when I noticed that one of my t-shirts came out with a spot on it, right in the middle of the chest area. So, evaluating my choices:

1. I can try to remove the stain
2. I can throw/give the shirt away
3. I can keep it and wear it to clean the house, paint, anywhere people won’t see me in it.
4. I can wear it out in public and act like the stain isn’t there or that it doesn’t matter.

The more I started thinking about this, the more I wondered: Why is number 4 so bad? Why do we care so much that a t-shirt has a stain on it? If this were a dress shirt or a nice suit, ok. The whole point of dressing up is to rise to whatever occasion one needs to. But in everyday life, a trip to the store or a casual restaurant? Why do we care so much? Does it say something about our personal hygiene if we wear a clean shirt that happens to have a stain on it? Is it our obsession with the new and fear of decay that makes us turn away from a stained garment? And do the massive changes in our culture, moving as it has from the formal to the mostly casual not changed our appreciation of such things? If a shirt is in perfectly good condition, has not lost its shape, has no rips or tears why will we not wear it? I suspect that it reminds us of imperfection and the messiness of life, things we strive to avoid confronting. Or at least to avoid showing.