Once, when I was 18, my mom insisted that I wear a sweater to a girl’s house. The sweater had a bad double-entendre on it.
In 2002, my older brother went to serve an LDS mission to Italy. He left his ’92 Honda Nighthawk 250 at our house. Our vehicular situation required me to learn how to ride, and I quickly fell in love with motorcycles.
My parents, being the safety ninnies that they were, wanted me to “be careful” on the bike, whatever that meant…well anyway, in those days I usually spent Saturday nights hanging out with my friend Rachael, who lived on the edge of town.
As I was gearing up to ride the bike out to her neighborhood, my parents complained that I was wearing dark clothing (cargo nylons, a hoodie, a backpack) and would not be immediately visible to motorists on the dark roads in Henderson.
I informed them that I wasn’t wearing dark clothing, but rather really cool-looking clothing which enhanced my aesthetic appeal, a key factor when I was going to Rachael’s house, because I liked to hit on her sister.
There was some back-and-forth, but my parents insisted that I wear a light-colored sweater for the ride. I didn’t have one. Dad dug one out of his drawer, a sun-worn old white sweatshirt that was older than I was. It had a logo on it. And a slogan. I read the slogan.
And I quickly realized something.
Flashback time: my parents owned a print shop when I was a baby. It was called “Graphic Insanity.” My dad probably thought it was cool and edgy to put a slogan on the sweater that…had more than one meaning. I remembered seeing the sweater when I was five or six, before I had the frame of reference to understand.
Flash forward to 2002, when I was 18, after spending my formative years in the Las Vegas valley, and suddenly I understood what “printers do it without wrinkling the sheets” meant.
In my own constructive way, I indicated to my mom that this was a problem. There may have been a subtle charge of hypocrisy leveled against her and my dad (e.g., “you filthy hypocrites”) when I put it all together. Nevertheless, they again insisted on the sweatshirt. For visibility, or whatever. Never mind that the motorcycle had, like, LIGHTS on it, and stuff.
At this point it’s worth mentioning that Rachael’s dad was a CSI agent, so my very conservative, very Mormon parents were basically ordering me to put on a shirt with a sex joke before riding a motorcycle to the house of a girl with a cop father.
Understandably, I put my original hoodie in my backpack, donned the dirty sex sweater, rode the motorcycle down the road, changed into the original hoodie, and went to Rachael’s house for the evening as planned.
It simply occurred to me that there were better ways to die, thus, I acted accordingly.
Besides, I had already used up my extra grace capital with Rachael’s dad earlier that year, when I knocked on his door at 1AM because my truck had died while I was trying to drop an old car in the desert near his house, and I needed to use his phone.
But that’s a story for another day.