Piaget and Foucault got into a Fight over a Blue Polo Shirt at the Local Goodwill Store

by Richard Osgood

More is less.
Less is more.
Who the hell cares?
People don't listen to us anyway.

Anonymous (and bitter about it).

Piaget was on a mission to find the perfect ensemble, to reaffirm the keenness of his eye, and to once again stand out from the crowd. He rifled through a rack of polyester pants and beige Chinos for a pair of knee-length, red-and-white checkered Bermuda shorts to compliment the blue polo shirt he found in a previous aisle, and to complete his outfit for the upcoming Reality Builders Annual Pig Roast and Anagram Marathon.

Foucault was in a nearby aisle browsing through a rack of Hawaiian shirts and assorted pullovers. His quest was for a black t-shirt, any black t-shirt, to add to his collection of black t-shirts. At the end of the aisle he stumbled upon what he believed was an abandoned shopping cart.  Draped over the retractable child seat was a blue polo shirt. He lifted the shirt from the cart and held it before him.

"You are blue, are you not?"  He said this to the shirt. "And as such, I am told you bring peace and tranquility to those who wear you, or those who paint their walls with your color."

The shirt did not answer. The silence infuriated him.

"Then why does your presence grip my very being with torment?  Why am I forced into a place of your making?  You do not bring me peace and tranquility, sir, rather feelings of great anger at being told by others that you are what they say you are and that I must listen to what they say and accept their word, for--"

Piaget appeared at the end of the aisle and noticed the strange man arguing with a blue polo shirt. His blue polo shirt.

"Hey," Piaget shouted, "get your hands off my shirt!"

Foucault peeked around the side of the shirt and smiled.

"I don't see your name on it," he said.

"It was in my cart," Piaget replied, "right there."

"Funny," said Foucault, "I don't see your name on the cart, either."

Piaget tucked the Bermuda shorts under his arm and ran toward the cart. Foucault, having unfinished business with the blue polo shirt, pushed the cart at the charging little man, turned and ran down the aisle. The cart struck Piaget in the abdomen and he doubled over in pain.

"Shit," he said, then, "Bastard!"  Piaget shoved the cart in the direction of the fleeing polo snatcher.

"Leave my mother out of this," said Foucault. He turned the corner as the cart reached the end of the aisle. Three generations of the same family, each of equal height as if they stopped growing at age fourteen, were sizing their children with shirts and trousers and dresses, holding up garments against disinterested shoulders. The rampaging cart struck the eldest woman in the back and she lurched headlong into a rack of linen suits.

Foucault turned down an aisle of assorted books and outdated encyclopedias. He halted at an impenetrable barrier of young mothers loading carts with half-priced children's books. "Shit," he said, "always running into dead ends."  He retreated from the aisle where a torpedo-like Piaget tackled him at the knees. They tumbled to the floor, and Piaget, with a pronounced expression of surprise, found himself on top.

"Get off me, you crazy bugger," said Foucault.

"Give me back my shirt!"


Piaget grabbed the collar and pulled. Foucault gripped a sleeve and turned his body into the floor. The two rolled down the main aisle and crashed into a display of frog-shaped candlestick holders. The store manager extracted the elderly woman from the rack of old suits as an audience formed a circle around the battling duo. Fabric surrendered under stress, blue ripping blue, and onlookers reacted to the audible failures of seam with motivational urgings, many choosing sides and rooting for one over the other.

"Get him, little man," said one.

"Poke him in the eye, black shirt," said another.

"Bite his nose off," said an apparently motherless boy.

"Knee him in the balls," said a young mother with a copy of "Goodnight Moon" under her arm.

Exhaustion overtook them, a stalemate of purpose, leaving the two in a maternal hug. They rose to their feet and faced one another, hands on knees, gasping for air.

"Here," said Foucault, holding out the shredded blue polo shirt, "on second thought, you can have it."

Piaget snatched the ragged remains and tossed it to the floor.

"It was part of an outfit," he said. "It has meaning only as part of an outfit."

"I hate to break it to you, buddy," Foucault replied, retrieving the dismembered polo shirt, "but it has more meaning now as the transgressive remains of its former self than it ever had as the possible compliment to an outfit."

"You're an idiot."

"Yeah?  Well, you don't have an outfit."

The manager grabbed each of them by the elbow and ushered them out the front door. Piaget and Foucault stood for a moment under the blue-and-white striped awning as dusk settled upon them. Piaget reached into the underside of his yellow polo shirt and pulled out the red-and-white checkered Bermuda shorts. Foucault smiled at this act of petty thievery. He lifted the front of his black t-shirt and pulled out another black t-shirt. Piaget grinned and held out the Bermuda shorts like an unfurled flag. Foucault lifted the black t-shirt until its hem was aligned with the waist of the shorts, and they contemplated the ensemble from different perspectives.

"Now that's an outfit even I would wear," said Foucault.

"As would I," said Piaget, "and with this our relevance is restored."

BIO: Richard Osgood lives in a city on a river where the north meets the south.  His virtual hangout is a place called The Flash Factory on American Zoetrope, which is the best Flash workshop on the Web.  Publication credits include Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Hobart, Dogzplot, Night Train, Mudluscious, Los Angeles Review, among others, which include two Pushcart Prize nominations.  He continues to mourn the deaths of Steve Marriott and Syd Barrett.