Spaghetti Shirts

We celebrated Audrey’s birthday a few days ago, and she requested spaghetti for dinner. So that morning, when getting dressed, I made sure to wear a “spaghetti shirt.” When I mentioned this to Tara, she looked at me blankly.

“A spaghetti shirt?”
“That’s right. It’s a shirt that is at least partially red. That way, if you spill spaghetti sauce on it, nobody will ever know.”
“Hmm. I’m planning on wearing white. Maybe that isn’t such a good idea?”
“Oh, dear. You never wear white when eating spaghetti.”
“I thought that was after Labor Day.”
“Oh, no. It’s perfectly acceptable to eat spaghetti after Labor Day.”

By now I was getting bogged down in details, but my point had been made. Not only should one dress to impress, but it’s equally important that you dress to ingest. In other words, color-coordinate your clothing to match what you’ll be dining on that day. Doesn’t everybody do this?

This woman has the right idea! (Courtesy of
This woman has the right idea! (Courtesy of

For as long as I remember, my parents have worn spaghetti shirts when eating pasta. We first started going to The Old Spaghetti Factory while living in Hawaii in the early 1980s, and that became a favorite dining spot, because it was cheap to feed a family of four, and the cuisine was always dependably good. And usually when we went, one or both of my parents would be wearing a red shirt. In fact, whenever they dressed in crimson, I didn’t have to ask what was for dinner. I’d come home from school, walk through the door, find my mom wearing a red shirt, and I’d be all, “Yes! Spaghetti!!”

I guess the lesson is out of sight, out of mind. The stain might be there, but if you can’t see it, does it really exist?

Sorry to get all philosophical on you. Deep thoughts for a Thursday morning.

Truth is, I always wondered why we didn’t wear similarly color-coordinated shirts to go along with other meals. Green shirts whenever pesto was served, blue shirts for blueberry pie, that sort of thing. I’ll bet a clothing company could make a fortune if they came out with a food-inspired fashion line.

At the very least, this is the perfect plot for a Seinfeld episode involving Kramer and a get-rich-quick scheme.

Personal Space? Never Heard of the Concept…

Tara and I had to stop by the mall earlier this week, and we decided to grab a quick dinner in the food court since it was late and we had errands to run. So we ordered up some Taco Time and sat down at a table to eat. A minute later an old guy with a German shepherd approached us and asked if the seat next to Tara was taken. She said no, so he proceeded to sit down…in the seat right next to Tara. At our table. I’d assumed he was referring to the empty table next to ours. I don’t think the guy was blind, even though he had what appeared to be a guide dog with him in a shopping mall. He wasn’t wearing dark glasses and appeared to be navigating the mall just fine. I don’t know, maybe he was lonely. It just seemed a little odd that he would plop himself down right next to us. Going to an upscale restaurant with communal dining is one thing, but not a table in a food court. Oh well, it didn’t really bother us – it was just an odd sort of thing that doesn’t happen very often.

Off With His Head! 

While at the mall, we stopped into Bath & Body Works because Tara was looking for some lotions. Pretty feminine place, right? We were surprised to find a guy working there. He had a great sense of humor, too. “Did he drag you in here?” he said to Tara when we first walked in, and that warranted a laugh. Then he tried to sell me a hand sanitizer with a “manly” scent. “I wish we had more stuff for dudes!” he said wistfully. I almost suggested he walk down three stores and fill out an application at Spencer’s. Plenty of stuff for dudes there.

It all reminded me of my days working retail. During college, that was my bread and butter. Well, except when I actually ate bread and butter. (Wearing a white shirt, of course). I worked a series of jobs in shopping malls. A tropical fish store. A luggage store. Brookstone. The Sharper Image. I despised retail, especially during the holidays, but I have to admit there were certain perks to working in a mall. I could satisfy my Orange Julius craving any old time, buy a diamond ring on a whim, and ogle those sexy Hot Dog On A Stick girls to my heart’s content. Plus, I managed to have fun. My favorite pastime? Standing in front of the store and shouting out loud to the passing crowd, “Hey, Mike!” Or John. Or Miguel. (This was San Jose, after all). Inevitably, some guy would always stop dead in his tracks and try to figure out who was calling his name. Yeah, there was a Mike/John/Miguel in every crowd. And the people I worked with. Man, I could write a book. There was the high school teacher who sold pot out of little black film canisters (remember those)? The Australian chick who had a fondness for (cliche alert!) vegemite sandwiches. God, they smelled awful. The Fatal Attraction-obsessed girl who tried very hard to seduce me away from my fiance. Fortunately, I never took the bait. Eddie and Earl, the eccentric duo who built a real working guillotine when business was slow, and liked to shoot dart tips at the rest of us through straws. You know, for fun.

Innocent times. Good times. It’s a wonder I emerged with my head still attached, though…

Quick Pix

One last thing. A few days ago, I posted a simple “gallery”-style blog entry. It was basically a photo of a food cart and just a few lines of text. I think I’ll do these “aside” types of posts more often. They’re an easy way to give a quick little snapshot into my daily life without making you wade through 1068 words of text. I think of them as Twitterized versions of blog posts. Or maybe I’m just being lazy…

18 thoughts on “Spaghetti Shirts

  1. Your take on the old guy with the german sheppard reminded me of the time your mother and I were dining al fresco at a German mountain resort. We were sitting at our table enjoying the fantastic view, when an older woman approached our table, and, without saying a word in German or English, plopped down an armful of dirty dishes on OUR table.


  2. When I went to Quebec City, I stopped in at an outdoor cafe (can you be “in” an outdoor cafe?) and asked what the wait was for a table. They confirmed there was only one of me, told me “no wait necessary” and promptly sat me with a couple. So I wonder if there’s a cultural norm at play? Here in the US, if a party of 2 sits at a table for 4 (aren’t most tables set up for 4, after all?), that’s still “their” table, and theirs alone. Elsewhere, maybe not so much; maybe it’s assumed that if you wanted to sit alone you’d be at a table for two?


    1. Exactly! The table Tara and I were at did have four chairs, but like you say, it was still our table. Suddenly having a stranger sitting there right next to or across from you pretty much kills the conversation. Maybe there IS a cultural divide?


      1. I never leave home without my tide to go stick. You should have seen the coffee chaos this weekend in the new truck. I lost my gripe on the cup and nothing was safe in the front seat. There is even a coffee stain on the ceiling. sigh!


  3. “Not only should one dress to impress, but it’s equally important that you dress to ingest.”

    ROTFL – You have written my favorite sentence of the day. I’m not a habitual follower yet, but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who thinks like this.


    1. Thank my parents. They are the ones who instilled these values in me in the first place.

      There’s an old Roxette song called “Dressed For Success.” I can see Weird Al doing a parody version dressed in a spaghetti shirt. (Or I could if this was 1989, anyway).


  4. “Doesn’t everybody do this?”

    No, I’ve never heard of that, Mark, but it’s a stellar idea! When I was a kid, I used to eat spaghetti the typical Italian way, by just tucking a napkin in my shirt collar. Then as I got older, I started using a soup spoon and fork to twirl the spaghetti with, which made eating spaghetti so much less messier. No spills, no splash!

    “There was the high school teacher who sold pot out of little black film canisters (remember those)? ”

    HA! Yes, I do!

    And I’m dying over the guy who came to your table and just sat down. That’s HILARIOUS!


    1. I’ve seen the spoon-and-fork method of eating pasta but never really attempted it myself. I doubt I’m coordinated enough to pull that off without needing not only a spaghetti shirt, but spaghetti PANTS, as well!


  5. So I first read this while at work this afternoon and literally laughed my butt off.

    I, at first, thought it was about spaghetti ‘strap’ shirts and the effect it must have had on you or Tara. I was pleasantly surprised to find it about ‘food’ colors and shirts and how brilliant your parents were (are!). I had never heard of this and I mean never! It makes total sense though and I’m surprised I had not heard of it before.

    Funny about the old man…but he was probably just lonely and no doubt you and Tara were laughing your butts off and he wanted to join in.

    As for manly scents….Scentsy is coming out with those. No joke! Some of them smell like:

    COLD PIZZA: True gourmands will recognize this combo of spicy tomato sauce, cheese, and basil. BURN RUBBER: The smell of new tires on your ride. DIVOT: As fresh as a chunk of newly-mowed fairway tossed in the air by your nine iron. SMOKEHOUSE: The aroma of the magical place where beef jerky comes from. SCENTSY COLA: Sugary soda, straight from the fountain. WOODSHOP: Just like 8th grade shop class.

    So there ya go!!


    1. Spaghetti straps are probably a different blog post altogether.

      I find it amusing that Scentsy would develop a “cold pizza” scent. Doesn’t cold pizza smell the same as hot pizza? How can one tell the difference? I do think the “smokehouse” scent sounds appealing. And maybe “woodshop.”


  6. Picture this: First date with now hubby, we’re eating, I slop some mayo on my shirt (brand new if I remember correctly & not white), get embarrassed, hubby laughs & tells me I’ll fit right into his family because it’s always a contest to see who will slop first at family dinners.


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