“Oh shirt!” she exclaimed when she looked up at me from her smartphone as I walked into her office.
I looked down at my shirt. It was buttoned properly, tucked in neatly, and I couldn’t see any visible stains. “What about it?” I asked.
“Excuse me?” she said.
“My shirt,” I responded.
She looked puzzled. “What about your shirt?” she asked.
“That’s what I want to know,” I said.
“What on Earth are you talking about?”
I was getting pissed. “What am I talking about? I want to know what you’re talking about!”
“Let’s take a step back,” she suggested. “What are we talking about because I have no clue.”
I shook my head from side to side. “I walk into your office and as soon as you see me you say something about my shirt. I want to know what your problem is with my shirt.”
“I don’t have a problem with your goddam shirt,” she practically screamed. “What makes you think….”
She stopped before completing her sentence when her smartphone, which she had put down on her desk when I walked into her office, vibrated. She picked it up, looked at it and said, “Shirt, shirt, shirt!”
“There!” I said, pointing a finger at her. “You just said ‘shirt’ again, three times. So I ask you one more time, what’s wrong with my shirt?”
“Oh my God, Tom,” she said, “there’s nothing wrong with your shirt. I got a text from my son who was sent to the principal’s office at his middle school for getting into a fight with one of his classmates and now they want me to come in and meet with him and the principal. I don’t have time for that shirt.”
“What do you mean you don’t have time for that shirt? What shirt?”
A look of understanding graced her face and she actually started to smile. “My husband and I are trying hard to watch our language around our kids. So we substitute innocuous words for curse words, like ‘fudge’ for ‘fuck’ and, yes, ‘shirt’ for ‘shit.’ I guess it’s become second nature for me.”
“So you weren’t criticizing my shirt before?” I asked.
She rolled her eyes and, still smiling, said, “No, I wasn’t, so you can go fudge yourself.”
Written for the Tale Weaver prompt from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, where we are asked to write a response to the word “shirt.”