Walking with Ellen and Shaq

As Bob and I strolled along the beach with our feet in the water, it seemed like every other shirt on the beach was trying to tell us something. I was especially entertained by a nine-year-old who wore a shirt that said: “Take More Risks.”

Seriously, kid, who are you to tell me what to do!

We were just chatting while taking a nice stroll down the beach, but we kept passing t-shirts that begged to be read.

“Save Water. Drink Wine”

“I Pooped Today”


We talked about what our clothing was like when we were kids back in the 60s. We didn’t think about making literal statements on our clothes. The clothes were the statement (and they didn’t say much).

Pretty much it was like this: You have clothes. Be happy.

At least that’s the sentiment suggested by our parents.

This gave way to a conversation about designers and branding, which is something I haven’t really cared about in my clothing. I simply want clothes that aren’t too expensive and make me look smarter, thinner, tanner, more approachable, slightly aloof, sophisticated, down-to-earth, and can be purchased at Costco. That’s it.

I do like words though. And if these kinds of shirts were around when I was a kid, you can be sure I would have begged my parents for them, been upset that they wouldn’t buy them for me, and then moped about it until either they or I couldn’t stand it anymore and I was forced to get over it.

Since Bob has become a grandfather, he has become particularly good at conveying an I-walked-30-miles-to-school-in-the-snow-uphill-both-ways” posit, so he elaborated about his childhood, which according to him was mostly spent outside fending for himself like an animal until his parents turned on the porch light and he and his sisters were allowed to return home. Clothing was required but nobody cared what it looked like.

I looked at his clothes and mine as we walked along and said, “Our clothes aren’t saying anything.”

But then I looked closer. While t-shirts yell things at you, our clothes were much more subdued. We took inventory. Bob was wearing:

  • Adidas ballcap
  • Adidas beach shirt
  • Nike swimsuit with a small swoosh
  • O’Neill flip-flops

I really teased him about being a walking, whispering advertisement. Then he turned on me.

My flip-flops were Sanuk. That was all the advertising we could find without looking at the inside tag of my swimsuit. We are very competitive, so we looked at this like golf. The person with less name brands would be the winner.

“What about your glasses?” he asked in frustration. (It looked like I was going to win this round in a cruel and unfair way.)

“You got me there,” I said. “They’re Ellen Degeneres.”

I was winning – 4 to 2, but I felt bad. I was not wearing a hat or a swimsuit cover-up, so the playing field wasn’t even. I thought I should declare it a tie, but then I realized something. “Hey. You’re wearing glasses, too.”

Bob looked at me defeated. “They’re Shaquille O’Neal.”

“Shaquille O’Neal! Shaq has a line of eye glasses? That guy’s into everything, and he just gave me the win.”

I’m still not sure why I find it so funny that Shaq has a line of glasses, but it cracked me up. So, we finished our walk – Bob in his Shaq’s and me in my Ellen’s. Two walking, whispering billboards.


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  1. Rob Swanson

     /  August 8, 2019

    I’m fairly convinced that God gives men wives so someone will make sure his clothes don’t have holes. You can commonly hear in my household, “You can’t wear that, it has a hole in it.” ” it’s my favorite shirt. ” “With a hole in it. Wear something else.” And we won’t even talk about crotchless jockey shorts.

    • Bob and I have favorite clothing that we just don’t want to part with. We are more tolerant of each other’s weird choices than we used to be, but only if we are at home. I agree with the decision not to talk about crotchless jockey shorts. This seems like the wrong type of blog for that!

  2. See, I would win. I’m generic all the way!

  3. Kim Sutter

     /  August 8, 2019

    Hilarious! When I was a kid in the 70s all my clothes said about me was: I wear earth shoes and polyester shirts and bell bottoms. Yikes! If I was lucky enough to get a hand-me-down box of clothes from my cousins, I wore corduroy pants, which was so cool! As a kid in the 80s you weren’t cool at all unless you wore Nike tennis shoes, Jordache jeans with heavily embroidered back pockets, and an Izod shirt with the alligator logo and your collar turned
    up. Nowadays my clothes say: for heavens sake, cover up those fifty-two year old belly rolls! Double yikes!

  4. I have Ellen Degeneres eyeglasses, too! They sell them at Costco.

  5. Art Manning

     /  August 10, 2019

    Sounds pretty cool advertising for these companies and such. How much do they pay for these services?

  6. Former NBA star Shaquille O Neal was certainly a winner on the basketball court during his sports career, but now his success comes in the form of savvy investments. On Monday, O Neal sat down with Ellen DeGeneres on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and revealed the serendipitous story behind one of his best investments: Google — pre-IPO.


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