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"Understanding in a Car Crash" • Thursday (by Adam Shaw)

I bought a Thursday tee-shirt to celebrate getting off probation. I’d listened to Full Collapse while completing community service, driving to and from the library to keep up my grades, and I wanted to wear it, own it like a scar or a badge of honor, something dramatic like I’d played in Metal Gear Solid. I could have gotten an All American Rejects shirt, maybe even a blink or Taking Back Sunday one, but I'd been arrested and done my time and needed something dark, mysterious, brooding. Batman-level shit. 


Hot Topic had two Thursday shirts, both black, one with a white dove and another with red and white splatters, a hand holding stopwatch. I didn't know what the stopwatch meant, but they had a single 2XL that I snapped from the bottom of the cube, whipped out like that tablecloth trick where the dishes stay still. As if being slick about it would hide my plus size, convince the girl behind the register that I was a medium, maybe a large. It didn't, or at least she didn't give an indication that it did. She ran her tongue back and forth over her lip ring, spoke only when she murmured my total. 


I changed into the shirt on my walk across the parking lot. A truckload of guys honked at me, yelled nice tits, fatass! and tossed a french fry carton out their window. The wind picked it up and dropped it into the bed of their truck and I laughed, took it as a sign—the shirt protecting me, turning over a new leaf for my post-probation life. I'd planned on lunch with friends at the McDonald's across the lot, picked up the shirt to debut my new look with confidants. I walked in and stopped in the doorway, looked to my friends at a booth. I nodded and they said what and I pointed to the shirt. My buddy John said it's Saturday, asked if I was stupid.


A decade or so later, Yellowcard and New Found Glory announced a tour and my wife asked me to go, said we could wear punk shirts from high school, make a Throwback Thursday of it. Only I didn't have punk shirts from high school because I'd lost a third of my weight in college, tossed the shirts to erase that I’d ever been big. I told her I'd buy one but not at the show because fuck, I wasn't going to be the guy who wore the shirt they bought at the show. I hopped on eBay and should have looked for a Yellowcard shirt or a New Found Glory one but searched thursday hand stopwatch shirt medium because everyone would be wearing a Yellowcard shirt or a New Found Glory shirt but I could showcase my depth, field questions over whether I thought Thursday would get back together, do a reunion tour of their own. I didn’t know why I wanted to do this. It was a compulsion, a twist in character brought about by a hand holding a stopwatch. Something like Jim Carrey’s The Mask or Spider-Man’s symbiote.


I waited until the day of the concert to show my wife. She walked in from work and I held it up, asked her what she thought. She shrugged, asked me if I wanted to get pizza beforehand. I wore it to the show, watched with my hands in my pockets. No one asked a question.


Thursday toured for the 21st anniversary of Full Collapse two years after my wife and I had a kid. I'd held onto the shirt even though my belly poured out from under it, the stopwatch stretched across my chest from twenty pounds gained in post-bedtime beers, stress eating Doritos between midnight shifts. I picked up a ticket and considered fishing the internet for a large version of the shirt, even did the math on how many pounds I'd need to lose each week to fit back into the medium, but I ultimately said fuck it. I wore a hoodie instead, drove three hours to the show and bumped into a friend from my hometown. He steadied me when a crowd surfer kneed me in the head, knocked me over during the first song. We jumped and screamed headbanged from then on out, and maybe it was the hit and maybe it was the shirt or at least the lack of it, but I melted into the music, sang along, forgot the rest.



Adam Shaw lives with his wife and daughter in Louisville, Kentucky, where he's hoarding a box of band tees he swears he'll turn into a quilt one day. He's the author of the novel The Jackals and the memoir Sportsman’s Paradise, and his work can be found in Pithead Chapel, HAD, Rejection Letters, and elsewhere. He can be found online at theshawspot.com.



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