Obviously this was a very successful, long-running campaign, because in defense of the person who bought me the shirt I'm pretty sure I was actually 8 or 9 when they gave it to me. Doesn't that make it so much better?
Anyway, I can't remember the exact conversation, but I imagine it went something like this:
Person: "I got you something that I think you're going to love!"
Me: "A Barbie? Is it a Barbie?"
Person: "Nope. Something better."
Me (now hyperventaling): "Oh my gosh, is it a Barbie dreamhouse? Please tell me it's a Barbie dreamhouse!"
Cut to me sitting on the floor in my "I'm Judy. Fly Me." t-shirt playing with my brother's GI Joe dolls and an old, cardboard box colored to look like a house.
Needless to say that any time I wore the "Fly Me" shirt outside the confines of my house I received a lot of attention.
Strange men would smile at me. I would smile in return. Then with the yarn from my pigtails flapping behind me, I would go on my merry way, completely oblivious to my recent brush with perversion.
This blissful ignorance continued until one day when I was walking down a hallway (where, I can't remember) and a man who I didn't know saw my shirt, paused, looked straight into my little, naive, almond-shaped eyes and said "I'll fly you." Just like that. I. Will. Fly. You.
Though I didn't quite understand what he meant when he said those words, I knew there was something very sinister about them. If Sunday school taught me nothing else, it taught me that sometimes an apple was more than an apple, and my third-grade instinct was telling me this guy's apple was rotten to the core.
Anyway, I can't say if I ran. Or cried. Or if I walked off pretending not to care, the yarn from my pigtails flapping behind me. All I know is that I never, ever wore that shirt again.
Fast forward to today. Now I'm no Freud or anything, but I believe that incident has shaped me in some significant ways.
First, it toughened me up instantly, which was a good thing given that there'd be more creepy-guy lascivious encounters to come. (Hello, future blog posts!) Secondly, I could be wrong, but I somehow think my abject fear of flying probably ties back to that very moment. Finally, and this is the weirdest thing, every time I go to a thrift store I look through the racks hoping to find my old shirt. I just feel as if it is out there somewhere, literally with my name on it.
I know this is not rational. I know it's most likely a product of my wanting something tangible from my childhood that represented my innocence before it was tarnished. In other words, that shirt will forever remain my Rosebud.