I've put this off for too long

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

I’ve put this off for too long. It’s time to come clean. I don’t know if I chose to be this way, or if it’s a natural outgrowth of who I am. It hasn’t always been comfortable, and I’ve tried to fight it.
Some already know, but most of my family members are in the dark. I don’t think I deliberately tried to keep secrets, but, who knows all the forces that motivate a man?
Friends, I’m done fighting and the time for hiding is over, so here it goes: I am a Hawaiian shirt-wearing American.
For whatever reason, I’m oddly drawn to floral prints on light, breathable fabric. (Let’s amend that to “manly floral prints.”)
This goes back to high school, when Mama Ree, aka Marie Morris, went to Hawaii with the Tupelo Pilot Club.
My cousin – Jimmy Morris then, Jim Morris now – requested a specific type of floral print shirt that was popular at his school. Rather than buttoning up the front, he wanted a pullover, like a funky, multi-colored polo shirt, but made from the same thin fabric as regular Hawaiian shirts.
I asked for a hula girl in a grass skirt, so it’s not surprising I got a shirt similar to Jimmy’s. At first, it seemed too brightly colored for me with its many blues, reds and greens swirling around, as though someone stuffed a florist’s shop into a blender and hit “purampée.”
But I gave it a try and wore it to school. At lunch, I asked the head football coach what he thought of my shirt.
“It really brings out your eyes,” he said.
I practically ooze sarcasm these days, but I was new to its ways then. The girls of Grissom High School must’ve wondered why that skinny kid in the goofy shirt kept staring at them with his twinkling brown eyes.
One day, a pen broke in the pocket and poured ink all over my first Hawaiian shirt. Truth be told, you probably wouldn’t have noticed the damage because the blue ink very nearly blended in. But I knew the stain for what it was, and retired the shirt.
I took a break from Hawaiian shirts for several years, until, inexplicably, my wife started buying them for me. I wore them here and there, but was always self-conscious. Then something tragic happened a little more than nine years ago. A Mighty Daily Journal copy editor named Tony Launius died in a car accident. Those were hard times for us.
Tony was an exceptionally good human being, as well as a proud Hawaiian shirt-wearing American. He had a huge collection of shirts, which were given to co-workers. One still hangs in my closet.
Since then, I’ve become more comfortable with my fashion choice. Besides, it’s hard to argue against lightweight shirts in the middle of Mississippi heat and humidity.
I’m a Hawaiian shirt-wearing American and proud of it.
Whew! A crushing weight’s been lifted, friends. Right about now, I feel I should be drinking something tasty and potent out of a carved-out coconut.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.

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