Guide to Moral Living in Examples: T-shirts

Dan didn't realize that his shirts changed the world. Not at first.

He hadn't set out to change the world with the message on his t-shirt. All he'd meant to do was buy a boatload of new clothes with the inheritance from his crazy, late uncle Mort. One of the shirts that he'd purchased featured a cartoon bat hovering over the phrase "20 million kids are eaten by bats every second." Normally he'd worn button-down shirts with bland slacks. Uncle Mort's death came to Dan as a warning that his time on earth would end as well, and he may as well dress how he wanted.

Unfortunately for children around the world, everything on Dan's shirts came true.

Dan, not being a kid nor a father nor even coming into contact with many children, didn't notice at first.

The next day, Dan was reading the job listings in a local paper. He'd been fired the previous day: not for wearing a colorful t-shirt, per se, but for his reaction to being told that he couldn't be himself. With some careful negotiation he'd managed to avoid a lawsuit by paying for a haircut to get the gum out of his boss' hair and to replace the broken plate glass windows.

The headline of the city newspaper read "ALL CHILDREN EATEN BY BATS WORLD ENDING."

"What the fuck?" he said aloud. A man at the next table was crying into his coffee.

"They came so fast," the man muttered.

"What came so fast?" Dan asked him.

The man looked through Dan with red-rimmed eyes. "The bats. They ate my Billy. Just like that," he snapped his fingers.

Dan felt numb, then a unicorn wandered past the coffeeshop window on the sidewalk.

"And these unicorns aren't making me feel any better," the man said. "I found one dancing on my car this morning. The windshield needs to be replaced."

Dan squinted, shook his head, squinted again. The unicorn was banging its horn on the garbage can, trying to stick its head in. After a minute it succeeded and pulled out a half-eaten hamburger. Glops of mustard and ketchup oozed out of the sides of its mouth while it chewed with a bored look on its face.

As smoothly as can be expected, Dan stood up and went into the bathroom and splashed cold water on his face.

"I'm just stressed, is all. That wasn't really a unicorn. Unicorns aren't real," Dan said, staring at his t-shirt. It read "Unicorns love hamburgers," and featured a happy unicorn snacking on a hamburger.

Dan went home.

"That can't be," he said, pacing back and forth in his living room and biting his nails. "It's too stupid."

Dan changed t-shirts and told himself it was because the other t-shirt was itchy. The new one read "Mermaids are terrible drivers."

He stepped out of his apartment building. He had to immediately jump back in the door as a car careened into the building. A mermaid stared at him over the deflating airbag, clamshell bikini and everything.

"How did you work the pedals?!" Dan yelled. The mermaid shrugged. He ripped the shirt from his back and threw it to the mermaid, and ran upstairs. Most of the screen printers weren't answering their phones, with depressing voicemail messages about children or unicorn-related injuries, but he finally found one that was open and would print him a shirt that afternoon.

Later that afternoon, he stepped into the street with a t-shirt that said "Everything is as it was two days ago."

He picked up a newspaper and it said nothing about bat attacks. Dan breathed a sigh of relief. He gave all of the money from his Uncle Mort to the shirt printer to make upbeat t-shirts.

The Moral: Believe me, there would be TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES if I wasn't allowed to wear this shirt.

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