Taking flight in a T-shirt

Oct 16, 2005

Thinking back, I can’t say I was a good dresser, though my mother certainly did her best to encourage me to iron my purple corduroy pants and pink-and-purple Oxford shirt before I stood with the rest of the choir in front of the congregation at St. Mary Church in DeKalb, Illinois. I like to think my mellifluous voice made up for the wrinkles in my shirt. And, my soccer buddies will recall the brown corduroy pants I wore while running the two-mile route at the end of our first freshman year practice. Then, too, my college classmates surely recall my unkempt hair and occasional FedEx envelope worn as headgear.

Fashionable or not, I’ve had my favorite clothes, pieces long gone but not forgotten: a T-shirt from a college visit to St. John U.S.V.I., showing the headlights of a Jeep (ubiquitous to the island) on the front, the taillights on the back; a blue JCU hat I wore until it fell apart; and a black-and-white checked overcoat Erin bought me.

Today, my most worn shirt—ergo, the most comforatable—is a VanAir T-shirt I bought at the offices of the Vanuatu domestic national airline in Port Vila, the capital, soon before I left the islands. The VanAir Twin Otter planes took me to Paama quite a few times; one trip, just a week after another of the planes had crashed into the ocean, was harrowing as we flew below the cloud cover, and I swear the pilot didn’t know where he was until the clouds broke and Paama appeared way to our right. Another pilot made up for the andrenalin of that flight when he transported a malarial Erin to the capital, landing the plane as if it were a feather, so light and perfect.

Anton Zuiker

© 2000 Zuiker Chronicles Publishing, LLC