The Columbus Dispatch
March 7, 2013
“What are you doing? You can’t wear it!” I said very quickly. Lisa’s face did not hide her feelings – it was clearly just a shirt to her. With a puzzled frown, she took it off. I gently returned it to its place. The shirt in question was not just any shirt though. It was the first shirt I ever bought at Dare Devil’s Pizzeria in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. The peach-colored t-shirt had been my favorite since the moment I bought it twenty years ago. The graphics were great, and I could feel the summer sun on my back whenever I wore it.
We were on our first trip to the Outer Banks in 1992. One evening Lisa’s parents agreed to watch the kids while we went out. We walked to Dare Devil’s Pizzeria. The name is derived fromits location on Virginia Dare Trail in Kill Devil Hills. The pizza was hot, the beer was cold, and the music was just what you would hope for. We had a wonderful time, so I bought the shirt. At first, I wore it every week. It got a nice, soft broken-in feel. Eventually, it shrank a bit and was getting too thin to be in my regular t-shirt rotation. So I wore it only when I ran in 5Ks. When I stopped running in races, I stopped wearing it. But even though I no longer wore it, my feelings for it were not diminished. It had earned a place of honor in my closet, next to my dad’s 1960s bowling shirt. Just knowing it was in the back of my closet gave me a sense of contentment.
We have returned to the Outer Banks many times. We always visit Dare Devil’s and I always buy another shirt. I have twelve different Dare Devil’s shirts, but none compare to the first one. One year I was picking out a shirt and I joked with the bartender that what I really wanted was the shirt hanging on the wall. It was my shirt, encased in acrylic! He laughed and told me it was not for sale. After I purchased a new shirt, another guy from behind the counter came over and said he overheard me talking about the shirt on the wall. I explained that I bought that very shirt on my first visit to the Outer Banks, and that I buy a new shirt every time we return. I told him that because of the good times it reminded me of, and the great graphics, it was my all-time favorite t-shirt. He grinned – they are very friendly down there. Then he explained that he too had fond memories of that shirt. He designed it himself during the first year he owned Dare Devil’s. He had me pick out another shirt, on the house. I was doubly pleased – I had a free shirt and a great story.
While Lisa will never fully understand my affection for that shirt, she now respects it. She moved the shirt to a drawer to reduce the stretching and hanger dents. She also told me that I could have all my Dare Devil’s t-shirts made into a quilt. Just think – my vacation t-shirts could keep us warm all winter!