It all started with a Facebook message.
Ah, so romantic in a 2013 way, I suppose, but truth is I had met Jackson, of course that’s not his actual name, a couple years prior when we were both semi-happily dating other people. We had taught at the same school but at opposite ends of the building, and had only spoken once in the line for bagels at a faculty meeting.
“The students are cray but at least the bagels are decent,” I had said in my awkward attempt to strike up a conversation with the well-dressed, attractive guy who I had heard was teaching 7th grade History before starting law school. (Awww.) He smiled, poured me a cup of coffee and that was it. I was intrigued but we were both in relationships and well, love is blindness.
Fast forward two years, and we found ourselves unattached and looking for tickets to see The Lumineers while they’re playing at, shock, our favorite venue. I had put out a mass “Please someone give me tickets and I’ll love you forever,” thus the Facebook message from Jackson.
“I thought I had a couple tickets but they fell through. How about we just get together and not go listen to music?”
We didn’t waste any time, and the next night we were laughing at the perfect outdoor venue just down from his perfect condo he was in the process of settling into. He asked all about my new job in publishing, far from the world of teaching, and I found myself genuinely surprised at how well he listened and actually cared about the words that were coming out of my mouth. He looked like a frat boy but was well-read and hilarious, just irreverent enough, and told story after story that kept me laughing. He kissed me goodnight and asked to see me again that weekend.
A few dates and several get togethers later and he’d lured me back to his place to “help decide where to place the artwork.” There was no artwork but I did get the full tour, and I found myself wandering into his massive closet of which I instantly became totes jelly. I started to yell something snarky about his extensive sneaker collection when I saw them. An entire row dedicated to man tanks. Not just any man tanks, but a whole rainbow of colors and designs, including intricate floral prints and some that should only be worn by intoxicated girls at Bonnaroo.
I was dumbfounded. This normal, attractive future lawyer from Scottsdale, Arizona who I had only seen in button downs and classic tees had enough man tanks to clothe every teen girl South of the Mississippi.
“Yeah I guess you could say I’m a tank kind of guy,” he said when he found me standing in his closet, holding a tank that resembled one of my mom’s patriotic swimsuits from the 80’s.
I feigned a smile and he laughed about the “funny look on my face,” not realizing I was seriously weirded out. He kissed me and I honest to Pete had to tell myself to kiss him back.
So I guess the discovery and “this is who I am” conversation made Jackson feel super comfortable, because from that night forward he was in a man tank. Taking me to the airport: man tank. Listening to music in the park: man tank. At the house cooking dinner: man tank. It was like we were living at Venice Beach and all I wanted was to get him in a shirt that didn’t resemble my sundresses for a change.
So instead of having a weird conversation I did what any good girlfriend would do. I bought him a short-sleeved button up shirt that made him look like Ryan Gosling. I told him that about 37 times that night and I could tell he was loving it. I was proud of my smooth problem solving skills and he loved that I found him so irresistible. You can imagine my surprise when he changed into a tank with corresponding colors the minute we got back to his place.
I’m sorry what? I couldn’t not say anything any longer. Curiosity and the pure annoyance of it all got the best of me.
“What’s with the man tanks?” I blurted out a lot less organic and nice than I had planned in my head. He looked at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears or I had just professed empathy for Miley Cyrus.
“They’re called shirts and I don’t get why you hate them so much.”
“It’s just, I didn’t know the California thing was your style,” I said, backing away a little as I watched his face turn from confused to straight up anger. I had really upset him.
“Well if it’s not your style then maybe I’m not your guy.”
He drove me home that night in complete silence, and did not kiss me goodnight or walk me to the door. He made it clear that not only did he enjoy his man tanks but that he chose them above all else, including me.
Yep, you guessed it, we stopped hanging out as much after that, and while there were other issues that factored into our ultimate demise, I couldn’t help but blame his closet full of man tanks.
I still get a little heated when I pass an Urban Outfitters with a new guy who wears the rest of his shirt.