Don’t & Delight: Coughing and Chatty T-shirts

Here’s a little thing I’ve been writing.

It’s called Don’t and Delight.

One cautionary tale and one cheery one, rolled up into one post …

Let’s do this! Let’s start with the ‘worst’ first and end on a high note.

Don’t – Coughing in the supermarket

You are not allowed to cough in the supermarket anymore.

And honestly? It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing if you are NOT me. If you ARE me it’s a bad thing.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t make a habit of coughing the supermarket. Nu-uh.

Except these days I do. I can’t seem to help it.

There are two particular places I cough when I’m wandering the aisles trying to convince myself that tissues ARE the best choice for my nether regions.

The first place is in the freezer aisle. (I cough into my elbow.)

The second place is in the cleaning aisle. (I cough into my other elbow.)

I can’t seem to stop doing it. It’s like I see frozen peas or a packet of Chux and all bets are off. I cough.

At first I thought it was just my own weirdness. I mean, I am a fairly cough-y type.

But then yesterday I was OFF THE CHAIN. I started coughing and coughing at the end of the aisle with the chips and the milk.

I was coughing so excellently that people did angry eyes and veered away from me, pirouetting their trollies as though on Dancing With the Stars.

I do not blame them one bit.

I snatched a bottle of water from the shelf with my gloved hand as a man swerved past me running his back along the confectionary section in a bid to stay as far from me as possible.

At this point I was trying to look un-sick as I coughed into my shopping list (because I’d used up both elbows). I drank half the water and instantly stopped coughing. But not before I had cleared the aisle.

I then finished my shopping with my mouth firmly closed, sneaking little sips of air in through my nose so as not upset anyone.

When I got home, I thought about all this and I wondered if maybe they are using new super-powered disinfecting products and that’s what’s making me cough.

Perhaps part of the COVID-19 store cleaning process is to slosh virus-killing potions on everything?

Perhaps the remnants of that slosh get breathed in by everyone?

Perhaps I  am …. allergic to the supermarket now?

Could it possibly be true?

(Or maybe I am just a cough-y person. That could be it too.)


PS: I did pay for the water.

Delight – My mum’s chatty t-shirts

When I was growing up, my mum used to wear very chatty t-shirts.

It was the late ’70s and the early ’80s and chatty t-shirts were a total thing. It wasn’t like now where t-shirts had every gosh darned idea ever known to woman printed on them. Back then if you had something on your t-shirt it really meant something.

One of my mum’s t-shirts said – I am a virgin. This is a very old t-shirt.

And then there was this map of Tasmania one which I do not remember but I know it exists because there is a photo. It’s likely that the caption on this one was equally sassy because it was important to be a bit free-love-ish back in the day.

Apparently part of throwing off the shackles of the patriarchy involved expressing your sassiness on as many t-shirts as possible. It was the beginning of the sex positive movement and my mum was a sort of sassy suffragette, it would appear.

She had other chatty things too. It wasn’t all about the t-shirts.

She had chatty hair, for instance. Sometimes in a sort of curved under bowl cut and everyone wanted to tell her she looked like Ita Buttrose. Sometimes it was in a white lady afro and she used a special comb to tidy it and I needed to talk to her about that comb and the comb itself spoke a chatty twang if you plucked it just so.

Mum also had chatty pants. Not in a sowing-your-wild-oats way, but more in an interesting way. A bit like – ‘Oh those are the flare-iest in the history of flares!’ or ‘Is that a woven, bejwelled, vinyl waist-band on your jeans?’ or ‘Shiny green lyrcra is my favourite too and you look very slippery and wonderful!”

(Several years after the chatty shiny lycra we watched a movie called So Fine starring Dudley Moore and I was glad that my mum had not been quite that expressive.)

Mum even had chatty shoes. Wooden clogs that started talking long before she had arrived in a room or vocal Dr Scholl’s that promised not only a clacky entrance but a health-promoting one too.

All that said, it’s her chatty shirts I love the most and I have been unwittingly following in her footsteps and collecting my own talkative tees.

I don’t need Google because my wife knows everything, my favourite explains.

This is what awesome looks like, another says.

Dad. The man, the myth, the legend, one reads.

Those burpees were fun said no one ever, the one I am wearing now points out.

Truth be told, I’m kinda wishing I had my mum’s huge Tassie t-shirt to add to my collection … but perhaps it’s a little too advanced for beginner tee me.


Kindness Counts t-shirt via Polished Print Co on Etsy

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  1. Pip my Dad should have married your mum! He is 80 this year and still wears his chatty Tshirts from 1982 when we lived in Pittsburgh….probably many older too.

  2. Oh my gosh, I know what you mean about the coughing! I am a very cough-y person too….always seem to have a dry throat. The last time I was in the grocery store I had to rush around, in a social distance fashion, because I feared that I would begin to cough. A friend of mine, who happens to be of Chinese heritage, has allergies and at this time of the year she is always sneezing. She finds herself taking more than the usual dose of anti-histamine because as she fears people’s reaction to her “public sneezing”. Strange times!

  3. I love your writing style Pip!!

  4. Love your mum’s style Pip! Is that you in the swimmers? It is a lovely shot. I think the harder we try to stop coughing the worse it actually is…and then you worry about it which makes it even worse. My husband always sneezes when I open anything minty like tic tacs , chewing gum etc. And now my son who is 10 does the same thing. Its a bit weird and at times slightly irritating. Have a lovely Easter x

  5. I remember those t-shirts, my mother and auntie (twins) both rocked them for a few years. My Mum got all grown up but my auntie kept wearing them for years longer. My mother had one with a big gorilla face and the word “Kwityabellyachin” underneath, Took me a while to translate that one. Oh such memories. I inherited the t-shirt gene but in a different way. Most of my t-shirts have animal faces on them. Nuff said.

  6. I’m a cougher in the cleaning aisle so I feel for you, also lots of perfumes and deodorants make me sneeze. I can see how scary it must be for others when something sets us off in these high anxiety times.
    As for the t-shirts your mum’s collection sounds awesome. Gotta love a bit of sass. I remember a lady in the small town I grew up in always had the hugest beehive hairdo even years after beehives were well out of fashion. I always wondered how she slept? How long did it take her to create it each morning and what did she look like with her hair down? She was always well put together I wonder if even her family saw her without her hair and face done?
    Cheers Kate.

  7. My mum had a T-shirt that said “This is no ordinary housewife you’re dealing with.”

    I’d love to have that now ??

  8. I used to love a chatty t-shirt- I had the classic ‘Choose Life’ but also, a pale blue with sparkly vinyl ‘Girls just want to have fun’ . My sister had the same but in red. We loved those t-shirts and wore them to death. That’s made me think…..I need a new one!

  9. Hi Pip,
    Here’s my “chatty t.shirt” story.
    In 1974 (or thereabouts) my Mum bought me a t.shirt that had a big red lipsticked open mouth ( similar to the Sticky Fingers one) in the middle. It was green. That was ok – it was the chatty part, 9 year old me couldn’t cope with, because superimposed on that huge mouth in great big letters, were the words “KISS ME”!!! I was a funny kid, who took things literally, because for that whole Summer when I was made (my Mum’s doing – five kids in our family, no such thing as not wearing perfectly good clothes!) to wear it I was sure, 100%, really truly sure, that someone was going to take my chatty tee at “its” word and KISS ME!!! No one ever did (of course!), but the anxiety sheer panic and dread I felt when I wore it was very real – I’m actually re-living those feelings as I type this. Ha-ha!

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