If you want to know what a geek is passionate about, look at their chest. Chances are good that whatever their passion is, it will be emblazoned across the front of their shirt in some form or other. With the possible exception of hipsters -- and there's a fair amount of crossover between the two -- no subcultural group is more dedicated to displaying the things they love in T-shirt form than geeks.
Name something that geeks are passionate about, and chances are good it is available on a T-shirt. Add that to the fact that geeks, even more so than most of mainstream America, are dedicated to casual wear and comfort, and the primacy of the T-shirt should come as no surprise. Combining form and function in one soft, cotton (or poly-cotton blend) embrace, the geek T-shirt is a damn near perfect garment.
Some will argue that the geek's love of the T-shirt is simply more evidence that we are overgrown children, refusing to grow up and accept adult wardrobes. Those people can choke on their stupid fucking polo shirts and button-down short-sleeve business casual bullshit. Wearing that stuff simply announces, "Hey, I work in an office and thus am obligated to dress this way." I'm not sure how this capitulation to corporate culture is supposed to be an improvement on the average geek's vintage Star Wars shirt, which at least says, "I like what I like and I'm not afraid to tell the world about it."
For me, that means zombie shirts. I have a fair number of non-zombie shirts, including everything from a Magic: The Gathering guild T-shirt (Izzet for life!) to an officially licensed Denver Broncos shirt, but by and large if you run into me out and about, I'll be sporting a zombie shirt of one sort or another. I have zombie shirts tied to specific films, like this kick-ass shirt that riffs on Return of the Living Dead:
I even have my very own custom-designed shirt to pimp my zombie website:
My favorite shirts, however, are the ones that mash up zombies with other sorts of popular culture, like zombie Care Bears.
Or zombie Soviet propaganda.
And even Zombie Denver Broncos.
It's these shirts that offer the outside world a glimpse into my psyche, a hint of what kind of person I am. If you see me standing behind you at the coffee shop in one of these, you can look at it and get a decent sense of me without me saying a word. You'll know what I like and maybe a little bit about what I am like -- what I find funny, or clever, or cool. If you're uptight, this might stop you from wanting to talk to me -- which is probably a blessing for both of us. If you're not, it might give you an excuse to talk to me, which is even better.
It's not unusual for me to get comments, or even compliments, on my wardrobe wherever I go. Whether it's an incredulous "Is that a zombie Salvador Dali?" or a knowing "Nice Breaking Bad shirt, dude," I welcome it. I don't even mind the occasional touch of ridicule, because I am confident in my geekiness and I give exactly zero fucks whether any random stranger I might run into thinks I am cool or not. It's worth it for the chance to meet people who share a love for the things I love, even if our friendship lasts only as long as it takes us to wait in line at the Walgreens or until one of our significant others shows up to reclaim us from the games section of Target.
Plus, it sure beats wearing a generic, light-blue, button-down Oxford that announces, "I work in an office somewhere, and my primary goal in dressing myself is to blend seamlessly into the background and look at home at an Applebee's happy hour."
Thanks anyway, but I'll stick with my zombie shirts.
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Find me on Twitter, where I tweet about geeky stuff and waste an inordinate amount of time: @casciato.