Ritual, no matter what scientists say, is deeply woven into the fabric of human psyches. It may be either the warp or the weft, but it’s downright basic. I was reminded of this on my hurried and slow trip to San Diego yesterday. I always wear the same shirt when I fly to this conference. This isn’t superstition, but rather it’s a case of sticking with something that works. I don’t often wear turtlenecks, and one reason is that they seldom fit well. More years ago than I care to admit (I’m wearing the shirt in the photo below, which was taken at Nashotah House nearly two decades in the past) I found a navy blue turtleneck from Land’s End (this is not a sponsored post, although it probably should be) that works perfectly. Even today it fits snugly around the neck after hours of wear. Maybe ten years back I bought a black turtleneck from the same company and after pulling it over my head, it gaps something awful. I tend only to wear it around the house. The original still does the job.
I was ready to drive myself to the airport yesterday and I grabbed a quick lunch at home. Part of said lunch involved opening a ketchup bottle probably nearly as old as the shirt I was wearing. (I’m sure you can see where this is going.) I ended up looking like a murderer, which is not something you want to try to explain to a TSA agent. I quick threw said ritual shirt into the washer and the drier buzzed at the same time as my phone did for when I had to leave for my two-hour-ahead check-in. This remarkable shirt was dry and ready to serve. Maybe you can see now why I’m so ritualistic about clothes. I also opt-out of those Star Trek scanners at the airport. This means I get lots of governmental pat-downs. It feels more authentic when you have actual hands running down your body—at least it’s honest.
The TSA agent commented that you don’t see many turtlenecks these days. I explained that it’s good for flying because I’m always cold on planes. As this stranger’s hands were rubbing down my chest, I was wondering how many times this shirt has been felt up by the US government. It has no pockets to pick, and besides, at airport screenings everything is stowed in my carry-on, including wallet. At midnight San Diego time, I checked into my hotel. East coast time said I’d been awake 24 hours because who can really sleep on a plane? Once my patted-down body reaches 3 a.m., Eastern Time, it wakes up. In these circumstances it’s good to know I can rely on that shirt in my drawer. That’s what rituals are all about.