I once found myself sitting at a bar talking to the late Sherman Darby. Sherman was B.B. King’s long-time road manager, a dapper-dressed man who always referred to his boss as Mr. King. I’d seen him in action and was impressed at his wide range of skills. We had crossed paths a few times through the years and had a mutual respect for each other. I liked his style and he liked mine.
On this particular evening, Mr. King (I go with the flow) had finished his show and Sherman was relaxing before leaving town for the next one. Our conversation was interrupted several times by crew members asking him about a rumored batch of T-shirts. Swag from the promoter. Like sharks smelling blood in the water, these guys were hunting free shirts.
Sherman patiently explained to each that, yes, shirts had been received, they were safely in his hotel room, and that the loot would be distributed shortly. He then turned to me and said in a world-weary voice, “Grown men asking for T-shirts. What the f#@& is up with that?” I completely lost it and laughed way too loud.
I’ve been thinking about that chat recently. We all, I suspect, want to think that things like T-shirts don’t matter. They are a byproduct of an outdated marketing strategy and we, thankfully, have outgrown all of that. We can throw out those cool Showco and Pine Knob Amphitheater shirts. Donate the Ludwig Drum and Jefferson Airplane duds to charity. We’ve moved on. Or have we?
The other day I was sitting outside at a coffee shop that I frequent, wondering why I was feeling out of sorts and invisible. My age? Not likely – around Palm Springs I am a spring chicken. Was it the fact that I was wearing a T-shirt that had nothing written on it? I had purposely worn that shirt thinking, “Aha, so this is what adults do,” and it made me feel like just another jerk sipping ice tea.
So while I was busy overthinking this I found a napkin and a pen and made of list of T-shirts that this grown man is going to ask for. The new Electra Guitar shirt looks great. Also Kacey Musgraves’ “Same Trailer Different Park” and some Team Kalitta Racing shirts. I wonder if Zamboni has T-Shirts?