The tale of the inconceivable T-shirt

I've never made much of a secret of my deep and abiding love for 1980s postmodern fairytale The Princess Bride. In fact I watched the version of the film that we taped off the television so many times as an impressionable teen that when I watch it now on DVD, I still anticipate the swell of theme music that indicates where the ad breaks go (we paused them out with the VCR but let's just say some of the transitions were a touch on the ragged side).

So when I read the story about a guy on a Qantas flight copping some grief about his Princess Bride T-shirt I was a teensy bit outraged.

Basically he was wearing a T-shirt bearing Inigo Montoya's oft repeated mantra of revenge "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Apparently some passengers on his flight took exception to this and complained, which prompted a member of the flight crew to ask if he could remove the offending garment. He was willing to comply but had nothing to change into. I really hope he responded to this request with "as you wish".

Now, in order for this sequence of events to occur a number of conditions must have existed.

First, there must be people in the world who haven't seen The Princess Bride. Even though it's now 25 years old. As much a fan as I am of the film, I have no problem accepting that this is the case. Heck, I've never seen Taxi Driver. Mind you, if you were to say "are YOU talking to ME?" in an aggressive New York accent I'd still get the reference. But yes, I get that not everyone in the world has seen this film.

I don't always understand other people's life choices. Like scrapbooking and stuff. But I try not to let it faze me.

But here's where things start to get more confusing.

Let's assume you're a nervous flyer. You've just seen someone board your plane wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a greeting, a foreign-sounding name (!), an accusation of murder towards the reader (You? The capitalist West? Infidels?), and the suggestion that death is imminent. Either this is a joke (and even if you haven't seen a particular movie, I find it hard to believe that anyone who is embedded enough within modern society to be boarding a plane doesn't know that T-shirts with jokey slogans on them is a thing) that you do not quite understand (Inigo explains it best), or this is an unhinged person who intends to commit an act of violence (and who isn't very good at hiding it).

In neither of these scenarios is "getting the person to change their T-shirt" a useful tactic. Because then you've just got a potentially crazed bomber on a plane... with no shirt on. I don't see how that's an improvement, just quietly.

As many times as I run through this scenario, I just can't see how this would work... unless it's a matter of people merely feeling discomfited. But this is one of the hazards of being in the presence of other humans. It means you have to look at their stupid Justin Bieber hair, or maybe they're wearing something paisley that makes you feel queasy. This is a question of sensibilities, and unfortunately the world does not owe you an existence in which you never have to be offended. Unless your name actually is Inigo Montoya and you really did lose your father to an act of violence, I can't see why one person's feeling of discomfort should override another person's fashion choice in this scenario.

But I once owned a T-shirt that said "Stab me, I'm a tourist" in red block letters, so my position isn't so surprising.

Far be it from me to just criticise without offering some kind of solution, however. So here's how we avoid similar unpleasantness in the future. Everyone who wears this particular T-shirt in the future, should carry a Post-it note with them upon which is written, in vivid marker, "my lunch". If anyone doesn't like your shirt, simply stick the Post-it over the last two words. Possible bonus: people actually do make you lunch.

The other solution is this. Just. Watch. The. Damn. Movie. This would definitely solve the problem. The Princess Bride not only has sports but also "fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles..." It has something for everyone. Watch it, and lo, you will be magically transported to a world where people saying "twue wuv" actually makes some kind of sense, and matrimony is referred to as "mawwige". Not to mention that this episode of an ESPN NFL show in which the sports* presenters drop more Princess Bride references than Count Rugen has fingers on his right hand will suddenly be rendered much, much more humorous**.

Do you think the people on this flight were overreacting or were they justified in asking flight crew to intervene? How many of your T-shirts potentially mark you as a terrorist?

It could have been worse. The T-shirt could have said "THERE WILL BE NO SURVIVOORRRSSS!"

* Did I mention it has sports?

** As will this post

» Follow me on Facebook and Twitter.