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Taken to the cleaners: How one shirt led to a habit

The end is near. And I don’t mean 2018, with 90 days until 2019 rudely interrupts the dark days of December.

I fear the end of the world as we know it could be just over the horizon. Witness the crush of suicidal squirrels along the Everett Turnpike this fall. Also, your Boston Red Sox have won more games in a season than ever in their 118 years. Also unexpected: I am turning into a clothes horse. None of this makes sense. The end of my bank account could also be near if I don’t stop buying clothes.

I have my friend, Jim, owner of Daisy Cleaners in Salem to thank. Or to blame for my recent interest in sartorial splendor.

“Jim, I love your new Hawaiian shirt,” I recall telling him earlier this year.

“Got it on eBay for a song,” he said.” Been doing it for years. I must have a hundred Tommy Bahama shirts at home. I lose track.” At least, as a dry cleaning professional, Jim can always have nicely pressed Tommy shirts.

A few weeks later, he gifted me with a kitschy Tommy Bahama Hawaiian bowling shirt. That was all it took. I had to try it. Most new Tommy Bahama shirts are over a hundred bucks in stores, but eBay is filled with barely-worn or brand new legit Tommys for $10 to $40. Before long, mailing pouches began piling up on my porch from all over the country.

But why do I care about nice shirts at this point in my life? I don’t go to a job. I’m not looking for a hook up on Tinder or match.com. To her credit, Lady Baba has not gotten on my case for buying clothes through the Internet. Kind of surprising, since I often teased her about her online shopping, a habit that caused her collection of footwear to flood halfway across the bedroom from her closet.

“Hi honey. Should I call FEMA and tell them about your shoe-nami?”

I expect this any day from her: “Uh, Mike. Check the front porch. FEMA has just issued a tsu-Tommy warning.” Guess I had it coming.

I’ve also extended my shirt buying to searching for high end dress shoes online for pennies on the dollar. Stay tuned, FEMA. A new shoe-nami could be brewing in the condo.

There were several changes in my life that I didn’t see coming with retirement. I never foresaw a Tommy Bahama addiction. I never expected that after decades of getting up at 3:15 a.m., I’d still wake up before the birds. And when I do wake up, it takes me 10 seconds to figure out what day it is.

And with all this extra time, I can surf the Net for fancy clothes that I never cared about when I had no time and more money. Someone needs to conduct seminars on what to expect after 65.

And guess who makes a bundle from dry cleaning my Tommy shirt collection? Thanks, Jim.