It’s lunchtime again, my usual writing time, and I’m at a popular hamburger joint. I know many writers who are unable to work unless they are surrounded by complete quiet and solitude, but for me, I need to be in a bustling locale with lots of background music and sounds. I need the din to drown out my more crazy and disturbing thoughts, to allow me to focus on only the socially acceptable ones.

The busy diner is also a great place to people-watch, and to find subjects to write about. Today is no exception. As I stepped away from the order counter, I turned and noticed a teenage girl wearing a low-cut T-shirt emblazoned with the word “Unavailable.”

My first thought was, OK, a teenage girl, probably excited to be in her first boy-girl relationship. She wants the whole world to know she is in love. I know it isn’t real love, instead it is that young adult variety filled with arrogance, possessiveness, and ultimately, heartbreak. This girl has not yet been soured to relationships by the immaturity of a teen boy, or the shallowness and triviality of a teenage relationship. But that’s OK too, she’ll learn in due time.

Then a bigger question crossed my mind. What is the point of advertising one is unavailable? It’s not as if there is a line of guys in front of the girl at the hamburger joint waiting to take their turn to ask her out. The guys in this establishment are much more concerned with getting their lunch bacon double cheeseburger than they are asking a teenage girl out to the high-school dance. Most of the guys I see here would rather have a beer than a wife.

Then I thought, where exactly is this girl going where she needs to advertise that she is not open for date requests? Certainly not a bar, she’s too young, and the guys there who desire a woman more than a beer know that one date with an underage girl would end up as a fifteen year stint in the pokey. Where is it that teenage girls go to get picked up? I’d guess it would be the high-school dance, in which case, this girl would already be there with her new beau, dancing close. I’m certain her proclamation of “Unavailable” means she is proud of her new boyfriend, and he is more likely a steroidal football player than a puny chess player. A hulking great mass dancing cheek to cheek with the girl does not exactly bid welcome to hundred pound shrimps eager to try their hand at courting her.

My mind drifted further, and I wondered what is the point of advertising what one is “not”? I’m not actively seeking uncomfortable footwear, nor seeking employment in the carnival or circus industries, and in neither case do I need a T-shirt to proclaim my non-desires. I do wear T-shirts with printed words on them, mostly the touristy type advertising places I’ve visited. I’m not exactly certain why I have a need to display places I’ve traveled, other than I simply like the shirts. I’m also not willing to have any frank and open discussions about the purpose or meaning of the printed wording on my torso-covering garments. But I do not need a T-shirt to proclaim that either.

If she really wanted to advertise that she is unavailable, perhaps she should dress conservatively, maybe even a bit frumpy. She could wear a phony engagement ring on her third finger. She could don a nun’s habit and advertise she is not interested in any man. These attires would be more convincing than a tight, low cut T-shirt exposing a hefty majority of her cleavage, even when it has the word “Unavailable” on it.