The Shirt That You Wore

He was distracted by the fact that all she wore was his coat and a glimpse of yellow beads. He hadn’t noticed when she had put on the necklace. The coat was huge on her, and the sight was like finding a photograph of one woman in a frame that had always held a picture of another. Every second that it clung to her, it was exchanging auras of scent and heat and memory.

Ofelia knew. It was not totally true, but the charge could be made that once she had detected his grief she had suspected his loss, and once she had observed the tenderness with which he treated his coat and discovered the faint history of perfume on its sleeve, from that moment on she was determined to wear the coat herself.

—Martin Cruz Smith, Havana Bay

So over in Italy there has developed something of a Stink over a television ad for the Renault Twingo, which seems to be a sort of car. The ad, and the Stink, involve two women who meet at a party, and then repair to a bedroom for fun and frolic.

Apparently televised lesbians are more than Italian media can bear, because the ad has been yanked. This in a country that has several times elected as its prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, a professional lecher of a particularly embarrassing kind, and seated in parliament Ilona Staller, an adult film star who appeared in hardcore porn while in office, and was noted for giving political speeches with one or more breasts exposed.

But no. Berlusconi’s media empire refused to air the Twingo ad, and other Italian outlets followed suit. The spot may be seen by Italian viewers now only via Sky, as the racist retrovert Rupert Murdoch has never been averse to lesbians, or to anything else—except, in his various news divisions, facts, truth, and sanity—so long as they might bring in a little coin.

I have seen this ad, which is offered in its entirety beyond the “furthur,” and I have to admit that I too am outraged. But not because it features lesbians. Oh no. What I don’t like is that it pretends to be about love, but is actually about theft.

Here she be:

Note what went on there. The blonde drives up in her Twingo, enters the party, exchanges heatseeking glances with the brunette, and the two women then retire to a bedroom. There the brunette doffs her top, and climbs into bed. The blonde blindfolds the brunette, then scoops up the latter’s discarded top, runs from the room with it, puts it on, and drives off in her Twingo. Leaving behind a very disappointed would-be lover.

This I do not like. At all. The blonde never wanted the woman. She only wanted her clothes.

One of the many nice things about being lovers is getting into one another’s clothes, before, during, and after. All part of the intimate exchange. A sharing of vulnerability, an expression of mutual possession.

Martin Cruz Smith again, this time from Wolves Eat Dogs:

“Smell is the essence, the attachment of free molecules of the thing itself. If we could really see each other, we would see clouds of loose molecules and atoms. We’re dripping with them. Every person you meet, you exchange some with. That’s why lovers reek of each other, because they’ve joined so completely that they’re virtually the same person.”

This ad sullies that. The blonde pretends love to accomplish theft. She walks off with her never-lover’s top, without erotically earning it.

The ad stained my mind. So I feel compelled to post a couple of real “shirt that you wore” songs, from Poi Dog Pondering and Marques Houston. These songs are sappy, yes. But they’re not about stealing.

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When I Worked

December 2010
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