The Working Man’s Peril of the Same Five Blue Button-Down Shirts

I place my five blue button-down shirts across my bed for today is a special day at work, and I need to get this right. I could wear Powder Blue, the one that says I’m fun and adventurous! But, I wore that one on Monday. I could wear Cobalt! It says I take charge, and I don’t back down. Yet I wore that one yesterday.

The one on my pillow is Sky Blue. It’s very comfortable. I can even lift my arms over my head when I’m wearing it. Alas, it’s very similar to one of John’s blue button-downs, and I don’t want another matching-presenters snafu again.

I could wear ole Persian Blue. It’s the same color as my eyes and my favorite pen at work. However, I’m fearful the conference room will get distracted by the coordination. With their heads full of desire, they will be unable to focus on my slides.

That leaves me with Robin’s Egg Blue. It’s my least favorite of the lot. I typically wear it on Fridays which is also the day I run out of any food prep I’ve done for the week. It has a mustard stain from Carl’s Jr. on the pocket, a ketchup stain from Burger King on the right sleeve, a line of chili sauce running down the left sleeve from Taco Bell, and what appears to be a new stain from last week. It must be from the Domino’s Personal Pan Pizza I had delivered to my desk. Upon smelling the shirt, I estimate I haven’t washed it since the chili stain.

Oh, what to do! Time is ticking, and I have only moments to decide.

I pick up Power Blue. Holding the hanger with my right hand, I place it on my chest and parade around my bedroom. It’s a sharp color, sure, but a pastel blue conveys youthfulness, no? That’s okay in some situations, like your sister’s baby shower, your brother’s baby shower, or your co-worker’s baby shower, but not today.

I repeat the promenade with the other shirts, trotting like a show pony in my briefs, stopping at the mirror before the judges.

To clear my head, I play Breaking Benjamin, alternative rock has always been my personal reprieve from the corporate fog. I sit cross-legged on my bed and close my eyes. I see myself walking through my day. I see myself, Paul, John, and Skeeter. I’m sitting at my desk, but what am I wearing? I turn my inner eye toward my heart and see, what is that? A purple button-down?

I jump up and shake it off. No! This cannot be. I would never wear a purple button-down. I don’t even own such a thing because I am a man;y man. The manliest of them all. Blue equals man equals manly equals straight. Anyone on the street could tell you that! Look at the manly man over there. You can tell he’s a manly man by the blue of his shirt. I bet he is as straight as an arrow too. No questions asked.

If I wore purple, people may not know that I am a straight manly man and would be quite confused or erupt into hysterics–nothing against gay men but consistency is key at Synergyx Global Inc. I run to the bathroom to splash water on my face.

“Pull yourself together, Steve.” I say to the man in the mirror. “Which blue button-down is it going to be?” The man stares back. He looks pained and intense.

Then he mutters with a voice that sounds like Stone Cold Steve Austin. “Colbat.”

By George! That’s the ticket! I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! I should wear Cobalt of course! It says I’m not here to mess around. No one can step on Steve. My presentation is full of the most important words your ears will ever hear. My data points are going to stimulate every nerve in your body. And I am a manly man, dammit!

With haste, I recede to my bedroom and pick up Cobalt, giving it the squishiest hug I could mutter. Then I lasso the hanger around my head, let it go, and watch it ricochet off a framed picture of my grandma. I compose myself, toss grandma in the trash, and gracefully put on the shirt. I look at myself in the mirror and wipe away a tear that slowly creeps down my face.

“Job well done, Steve,” I say to myself. I put on pants, grab my lunch and head out the door, beaming with pride, in the same shirt I wore yesterday.

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