Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

The Perfect Shirt

Posted on | June 27, 2017 | No Comments

Sometimes you want people to know who you are right away.

You consider telling them everything.

Instantly just to get it over with. As though your life was a movie and you were very eager to spoil it.

What if there was a shirt that could help?

What if you could tell people exactly who you are before you said a word?

Then if they spoke to you there would be no misunderstanding.

The ice would break immediately and you could swim in the sea of friendship.

I’m sitting at a coffee shop called Field Trip. I’m writing. There are remains of a cinammon bun I’ve recently consumed. Mostly finished ice Americano.

Field Trip have a lot of tables and delicious pastry items to try. There is an outside patio where people are congregrating like fools on this blazing hot Saturday.  All in all this is a very exciting Mike Kimber. He’s trying things. He’s at new places.

Look at me go!

Then I see him.

Wearing the perfect shirt.

My eyes widen.

You can’t help but notice his majesty.

He looks a little like Rob Ford.

A bigger guy but bald with an open and friendly face. His shirt is yellow. With writing on it. That at first is confusing as I can’t read all of it. I see the word homosexuality on it. And his rather large gut. He has no butt. But also a gut. Interesting.

I notice him hovering over two 50 something year old men. One of them has a hat. Both have white beards. Their eyes look kind. Like they just met him and are willing to hear him out.

All I see is the word homosexuality and I make fairly typical assumptions.

I assume he is about to start lecturing them about their sexuality.

I wonder what I should do.

My first task is finishing reading the shirt. But he keeps twisting and the harsh glare of the sun hits me in the eyes forcing me to blink.

I notice the word not their organs and Falun Gong.Falun Gong is a cult in China.

My eyes again go back to the word homosexuality. I see the word sin.

Ok, he is definitely going to cause trouble.

I look back at the two men he’s talking to.

They seem to be fairly relaxed. Leaning in. Enjoying whatever he is saying.

I must be missing something.

I squint my eyes and determine that his shirt declares that Homosexuality is not a sin. It’s about two people loving eachother. Not what they do with their organs.

Hmmm.

And there is mention of the Falun Gong. I wonder how these two concepts connect.

I mean being homosexual sort of has something to do with sharing organs. And the Chinese government has been accused of taking the organs of practioners of Falun Gong. So maybe he’s making two important but very different statements in one T-shirt.

I do a little further research on my phone.

According to Wikipedia, the Falun Gong, like many Western religions, have a belief system that is profoundly homophobic.

This is a quote from the son of two practioners. According to him he was taught that, “Homosexuality is not the standard of being human, the priority of Gods will be to eliminate homosexuals and that gays are demonic in nature.”

I reread the sentence. Yes I completely disagree with that sentence.

So the guy who looks like Ford is both anti-organ harvesting, anti-homophobia and remarkably well informed on something I knew nothing about. Which he put on a shirt. Because there is no way anyone mass produced this shirt.

I watch him continue his conversation. Smiling. Being a great guy.

The two gentleman I thought he was accosting actually appear to be becoming his friends.

I can see why.

Their shirts are standard button up shirts. The colour patterns are uninteresting. I don’t know who they are and I’m not curious. In fact they are only interesting to me because they are talking to this man with the perfect T-shirt.

I wonder if they would have talked to him if he wasn’t wearing the shirt. If at some point in his life he wore normal shirts and no one noticed him.

If he had been a corporate drone for years and everyday he wore the same suit and replied the same way when he was asked about his day and at some point decided he was going to be honest. On the weekends.

If maybe he found a little print shop and he went in.

Just for a lark.

Asked what they’d put on a shirt and they told him anything he wanted.

“Really? Anything I want?”

“Yes. Anything.”

I wonder if a smile came to his face just then. If he had to suppress an anxious chuckle. Then he told them exactly what he wanted. Because he’d met someone and they’d told him about a cult in China who had their organs stolen and also hated gay people. If he’d been so moved by this story he’d paid just under forty dollars for this T-shirt. A shirt that would say exactly how fucked up the world was and that he cared for people anyway.

There shouldn’t be organ harvesting.

Their shouldn’t be homophobia.

There should be this shirt.

I wonder if he goes around to coffee shops and makes shirts about the people he meets. Maybe the two white mid 50s white men tell him a story. About their son who they adopted who is working overseas helping children who have diabetes but don’t have access to medication. Then they got into a little discussion about the Syrian conflict. A few days later the T-shirt man enters a new cafe. With a new eye catching shirt.

“Stop diabetes overseas. Assad is a warcrime. Let’s stop spilling blood and start raising blood sugar.”

He sits down. People wonder what sort of person makes shirts like these. And he breaks the ice. The shirt immediately gets him past that awkward hello and he explains the situation reasonably. With humour and grace he explains how he met two wonderful gay men who’s son is a doctor and specializes in helping diabetics in war torn nation. The conversation deepens.

He makes a new friend. He hears a new story.

He goes back to the print shop.

He gets a new shirt made.

He goes into work on Monday in his suit.

Quietly keeping his secrets to himself. Providing his bosses with the answers they need. Eating lunch alone.

Listening to conversations across the break room.

Thinking about the world.

Thinking about the next time he dons a perfect shirt, goes into the world and makes a friend.

He goes home. Before bed he opens up his closet.

He sees dozens of shirts.

With dozens of complicated issues broken down into their component parts.

He sees the world. In all it’s glory.

 

 

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  • About

    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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