trauma of pink shirt

Did you read, “The Trauma of the Pink Shirt” in this Sunday’s New York Times? Oh, God, you missed out. Basically, just as The Times has learned that young people text a lot, and that men wear shorts in the summer, they have also learned that sometimes men who wear pink shirts are considered effeminate. Or “pudendum boys.”

The writer ventured into the darkest heart of New Jersey wearing his favorite button down pink shirt. Then he, his wife, and their friend Shirley, stopped at a gas station and a fight ensued between two men who wanted the same parking spot. Here are some key lines:

Ever the conquering diplomatic hero, I decided to intervene. Channeling some bizarre amalgam of Basil Fawlty and Rodney King in his “Can we all get along” moment, I said: “Come on, gentlemen, let’s be reasonable. We can settle this amicably and all be on our way.”

This was really assertive back on Downton Abbey, but maybe does not work so well with two men in New Jersey fighting for a parking spot.

“Who are you looking at, pudendum boy? Why are you wearing a pudendum boy shirt, pudendum boy?” (I should point out that the sports-car guy did not choose the Latin term.)

I will only be calling people “pudendum boys” forever, now.

I was taken aback. I mean, this was a nice shirt, right? This was a $200 shirt. This was a Steven Alan shirt. Maybe it was the color of Pepto-Bismol. Maybe I looked a little like living diarrhea relief. But this was no pudendum boy shirt. (I live in Brooklyn. I keep it real.)

Remember that up until a few years ago, The New York Times barely even knew Brooklyn existed.

By virtue of the fact that I was wearing what we can call, for the sake of economy, a P.B.S., and, on the basis of the assumption, repeated once again (but still untrue), of my having had sex with my mother, he invited me repeatedly to perform fellatio on him. He emphasized the invitation with explicit hand gestures and by pointing to the area of his crotch. (I am not that slow. I got the point.) And so it went round and round for ages, like a three-stroke engine or the three persons of the trinity: P.B.S., incest, fellatio.I was impressed by this bravura display of American masculinity. But I was also bewildered by it. What exactly was he asking me to do to him?


I do not believe it was romantic in nature.


I never wore the shirt again.

It lies folded in a drawer. I’m looking at it right now. All I can think when I see it is “P.B.S.! P.B.S.! P.B.S.!” It’s as if the shirt is screaming obscenities at me in a Jersey accent. I close the drawer.

Oh, buddy! Please wear your pudendum boy shirt again! Don’t let those monsters in New Jersey take it away from you! Seriously, I’m sure it looks great.