Three matters of monumental unimportance.

I have discovered strange white lines on several of my shirts, and have not yet determined their origin. The lines are about an inch long and slightly faded. There are usually two of them, roughly parallel, though sometimes there’s just one. They appear in the same location on each affected shirt: where the right-side love handle would be on someone not as totally ripped as I am. These white lines are especially bothersome because my shirts are generally black, navy blue, navy black, blackish blue, and gray.

I am embarrassed to admit that I can not figure out why these shirts are marked in almost exactly the same way. I don’t think it’s anything laundry-related. If it were something in the washing or drying process, the marks would not be in the same place on each shirt. It’s not the drawers the shirts are in; the drawers are black and gray.

The belt buckle in my car would be a good guess because of the location of the marks, but the buckle is beige and red. So that’s out. Perhaps it’s from the belt itself—I’ll have to check.

It isn’t my desk; I normally lean forward and left on my desk, not forward and right. It isn’t from taking the keys out of my pocket. I haven’t painted anything recently, and certainly not often enough to mark that many shirts. I don’t have white markers or chalk. My jackets don’t leave those marks.

I am baffled. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Yesterday I bought a copy of Everything’s Eventual, a collection of short stories by Stephen King. I flipped around to read the shorter of the short stories first, one of which was about a woman’s very keen and disturbing sense of déjà vuWhoopty do. That particular story was unimpressive.

I got to a story about the Dillinger Gang’s brief visit to Aurora, Illinois. This tale was much more interesting, partly because it took place not too far from here, and partly because it involved gangsters, see? But it was getting late, so I was having greater difficulty focusing on the story. “Reading” was slowly turning into “making brief eye contact with a whole bunch of squiggly symbols without understanding.”

So, I bookmarked the page with a receipt, put the book down and went to get a glass of… water. Drank it down, dropped some Visine in my eyes, and went back to the book.

I found my place, read a few more pages, and found that the deeper I got into the story, the more familiar it seemed. I didn’t know why; I’m not that familiar with John Dillinger’s history aside from knowing that a certain rumor about him had been exaggerated to great length. But I read on, and was increasingly certain that I had already read this text.

Being me, I did not, at first, consider that I might have botched the seemingly simple process of using a bookmark. Instead I thought, “Isn’t it awfully clever of Mr. King to re-use the same text in a short story about déjà vuHar har har.”

Then I remembered that this wasn’t the déjà vu story, it was the gangster story, see? I’d already read that one, and he handled it far more skillfully than simply reprinting the same material.

…Had I screwed up the bookmark?

Well, if I had you sure as hell wouldn’t be reading about it. I flipped through the pages, back and forth, and eventually my mind cleared up enough to discern the dark secret of this tome:

Turns out that it was misprinted. I don’t remember the exact page numbers, but after a particular page, let’s say 136, came reprints of pages 107 through 130. After that, it skipped to page 171. Everything from 137 to 170 was missing, replaced by those twenty-some pages of reprints.

All was right with the world. Stephen King hadn’t used some hack technique, I wasn’t experiencing déjà vu, and I still knew how to use a bookmark correctly. I went back to the bookstore today, explained the problem and exchanged the book, so tomorrow I’ll probably find out that that particular misprinted copy was worth several thousand dollars to some collector.

I can’t remember the third right now.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2006 at 11:31 PM.

2 Responses to “Three Matters of Monumental Unimportance.”

  1. scrappy Says:
    February 17th, 2006 at 3:49 PM

as to the shirt mystery… sometimes when I apply deodorant (white solid, not clear gel) and pull a shirt on shortly after, the undried deodorant will leave a white line where a fold in the shirt was exposed. If your routine inolves this similar order of events, and if you pull shirts on with the same precision as me… then, maybe it is the deodorant you are seeing that has somewhat bleached out the cloth. Maybe.

  1. Vincent Viscariello Says:
    February 19th, 2006 at 3:35 AM

I’m pretty precise with the putting-on of my shirts; I bought a machine that does it for me. Obviously it needs recalibration.