Let’s wrap this silliness up, shall we? Well, let’s bring it current anyway.
Schell, Stacy and I told Jane that we would be unable to attend her wedding celebration. I know, pretty crappy, huh? Jane was heartbroken, but understood that our schedules were busy. She handled this with her usual amount of grace and just left us copious drunken guilt-laden voicemails.
We hired a bag lady. That’s right, we went online and found a lady willing to pose as a bag lady and crash Jane’s wedding reception. She usually performs as a clown but she was willing to take on the role, and I’m here to tell ya, she looked GOOD. She looked crazy. Crazy and dirty. She was perfect. We secretly flew into Denver the day before Jane’s reception and stayed in a hotel without her knowledge. I was so cold hearted that I even called her from a local restaurant pretending to be home and told her how much I wanted to be there for her big day. She had no idea I was ten minutes from her house. Awesome.
The next day we met up with the bag lady beforehand and gave her the red shirt. She stuffed it into a dirty bag that she was dragging around with her. She wandered into Jane’s outdoor BBQ reception and almost got into a fight with Jane’s husband as he tried to usher her away from guests. He was about to call the cops when she broke into song and started pulling things out of her dirty sack.
Jane spotted the shirt immediately and began to shriek and jump up and down. At that point, the three of us emerged from hiding behind a truck and walked up behind Jane. Jane was laughing and snorting and telling the crowd the story of the red shirt.
I will never forget Jane’s face when she turned to see the three of us standing there. We screamed and hugged and jumped up and down, teary eyed and elated. We had finally “gotten” Jane with the damn shirt. Finally! I am the victor! Well, with a whole lot of help.
The next year Jane visited Stacy on the West coast. Stacy nervously shot me a few emails during her visit. She was positive that Jane was going to plant the shirt somewhere in her house. She should have known that would be entirely too pedestrian for Jane. Jane let Stacy sweat it out and Stacy tore through her home for days afterward looking for the shirt upon Jane’s departure. It was nowhere to be found.
Smartly, Jane let her sweat. Turns out Jane returned home and gave the shirt to one of her friends who was visiting California the following week. At the time Stacy owned and operated a baby store in Northern California. This minion of Jane’s simply waltzed into the store, popped the shirt on a hanger and took it up to the counter and asked Stacy if it had a price tag. Jane had gone so far as to show this woman pictures of Stacy so as not to screw up the gag. Stacy screamed.
Fast forward to a year later. Stacy never admits that she is now the owner of the shirt. We’re vacationing on Bald Head Island. At the time, I was dating Rocketman. At the end of our vacation, Stacy handed me a teeny tiny ornately wrapped package and a card. She instructed me to take it home to Rocketman. She was very mysterious and assured me that it was something special for our love life. Right, Stacy. I still can’t believe I fell for that nonsense. Rocketman and I ended up not working out and I came home one day to find the package on my front porch.
The package was ripped open just enough that I could see it was the red shirt. Stacy and Rocketman had worked on a possible plan for the future but as we had broken up, he simply returned it. Damn. I had it again. This was 2007. I had the shirt in my sole possession for three years. In those three years Stacy had a baby. In March of last year, the DB’s traveled to Cancun for a week of sun and fun and tequila. I decided to just flat out ask Jane for advice, as my intended target was Stacy since she had targeted me. Jane and I decided that we should buy a cuddly stuffed animal as a baby gift and consequently replace some of its stuffing with the red shirt. Stacy would take the gift home and we would subsequently send her an email revealing the true identity. We got a black and white little dog and did exactly that. The price tag was still dangling from its ear. The cuddly dog was like a Columbian mule. Perfect.
However, upon arriving in Cancun I started getting nervous. Stacy is freakin’ smart.
Although, I’m unsure if Stacy even knew that Rocketman had returned the shirt. It matters not because I just knew that she would immediately suspect trickery upon receiving the little dog. Schell was on the balcony looking out at the ocean and I snuck out to join her. I expressed to her my nervousness. Schell listened and simply said, “you’re right. Stacy will totally know. I’d say you tell her what’s going on and then you two stick it to Jane”. BRILLIANT.
I discreetly mentioned to Stacy that I was going to give her a fake “present” for her daughter and inside it was the shirt. From there we would figure out how to get it to Jane. She agreed immediately. When all four of us were in the room I went to my suitcase and nonchalantly grabbed the dog. I tossed it over to her and said that I had just picked this up at the airport for her new daughter. “Aww, thanks”, she said and she put it inside her suitcase. I glanced over at Jane and she was glowing with glee.
Stacy kept it for the entirety of our trip. She and I were departing for the airport before Jane and Schell. Stacy stopped by the concierge on the way out and left the shirt with the hotel in a dry cleaning box with the words “AS IF” scrawled in marker on the top of the box. She left the box with a Hispanic gentleman and gave him Jane’s room number. She instructed him to wait a few hours and then deliver it to the room. Unfortunately his English was a little spotty and as Stacy was hailing a cab, Jane was opening the box. Jane took off on foot to the front of the hotel. She jumped over lawn chairs and skidded through the pool area into the lobby. Stacy had just opened her cab door and was getting inside. Serendipity would have it that the window of the cab was open. Jane raced across the circular loop to the cab lane. As Stacy’s cab was pulling out Jane took a one in a million shot and threw the box directly in the open window.
The cab sped off and with it, the shirt and a surprised and disgruntled Stacy.
Not to be outdone, Stacy gave her cab driver an unknown amount of pesos and he dutifully returned the box and the shirt to Jane’s room hours later. Nice try, Jane.
Fast forward to our recent Napa trip. I arrived in San Francisco and spotted my driver immediately. Not because he had a sign bearing my name, but because HE WAS WEARING THE DAMN RED SHIRT. Stacy and Jane had ganged up on me and Jane had sent the shirt to Stacy prior to my arrival. The driver ran behind me all the way to baggage claim, yelling “you can’t refuse it! you can’t refuse it”! Dude, don’t I know.
Stacy screwed up though. She got the shirt to me waaaaay too early in our trip. Three days after my departure Stacy went to her early morning spin class. Imagine her surprise when her large athletic African American trainer arrived to the session wearing the shirt around his neck like a cape. When my driver heard the entire story he offered to lend a hand in returning it to Stacy. Thanks, Jeremy!
So there you have it. It took four posts and many phone calls to retrace the 20 year route of the infamous red shirt. I love hearing your comments about similar traditions! So as of this day and hour, Stacy is holding the hot potato. I can’t wait to see where it goes next. This silly shirt has traveled more than the average American, I’d bet.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Schell can never, ever be the recipient of the shirt but she can aid in its transference. Schell is one of my three best friends in the world and I love her completely with all my heart but sometimes she has a hard time finding her ass with both of her hands. And she knows it. We’ve all discussed and agreed that we simply can’t risk Schell leaving the shirt on a bus somewhere or perhaps accidentally baking it into a meatloaf.