When I saw the Doctor Who T-shirt on display at my favorite comic book store, I knew I had to have it. This might sound more like something a teenage fan girl would say than a 60-year-old librarian. But I’ve always been a little quirky. And I’m a Doctor Who fan. Big time.
Doctor Who is a BBC TV show that first went on the air in 1963 and recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The show holds the world record for the longest-running televised science-fiction series, with 813 episodes so far.
The Doctor is a Time Lord who travels through time and space, saving the universe and having adventures. Why do I love the show? It’s just like library work!
No, I’m kidding. It’s about as far from library work as you can get, which is probably why it’s so much fun. After an afternoon spent wrangling with library patrons about paying overdue fines, it’s a pleasant relief to watch somebody else battling alien monsters and saving the universe.
The T-shirt I coveted riffed on the cover of Abbey Road, but instead of John, Paul, George, and Ringo crossing the street, it’s four popular Doctor Who villains — a Dalek, a Cyberman, a Silent, and a Weeping Angel.
At this point, fellow Whovians reading this are thinking, “Fantastic!” (and the rest of you are probably scratching your heads).
“I want one!“ I said to Mark. “But I haven’t worn a fan shirt like that in years.” (True to librarial stereotype, I’m usually clad in Eileen Fisher.)
“Try it on,” suggested Mark, who is always happy to watch Doctor Who with me, although he’s more of a Star Trek fan himself.
The shirt fit me perfectly.
Choosing a dress code
Years ago, I left the practice of law to work at my local public library. There were many good reasons for this choice, one of which was the dress code. I happily went from power suits and heels to casual clothes and comfy shoes.
You can’t possibly come to work at a major law firm in a Doctor Who T-shirt. But in a public library? No problem.
As a teenager in the ’70s, I often wore T-shirts celebrating things that were close to my heart. “Stop the War.” “Frodo Lives.” “A Woman without a Man Is Like a Fish without a Bicycle.” But when I grew up, went to law school, and began practicing law, I got out of the T-shirt habit.
It was time, I decided, to jump back in.
Finding fellow fans
The first time I came to work wearing my new Doctor Who T-shirt, I gained instant approval from our teenaged pages. “Great shirt!” I was told.
As for the patrons? Most didn’t notice. A few asked me to explain my shirt to them. But my fellow Whovians? We bonded instantly and began talking Who. “Who’s your favorite Doctor?” “How do you feel about Clara?” “Don’t you just love it when they reverse the polarity?”
Once I realized how much fun it was to wear T-shirts to work, I dug my old favorites out of the back of the closet and wore them, too. And I’ve begun to acquire new ones. I feel as if I’ve reconnected with my teenaged self. And tuned into something that is very My Generation. What could be more quintessential Boomer garb than jeans and a cool T-shirt?
I’ve even discovered T-shirts about library work. “Choose Books,” “Reading Is My Superpower,” “What Happens in the Library Stays in the Library.” But the Doctor Who T that triggered my T-shirt renaissance is still my favorite. I wear it so often that it’s like a second skin. I’ll forget that I have it on until I pass a teenage boy on the street and he calls out “Cool shirt!”
If I were single and looking for Mr. Right, I’d never leave the house without a cool T-shirt. It gives folks an easy way to connect with me. One look and you’ve got a good excuse to start a conversation.
“But you’re 60 years old! A librarian!” you might protest. “Where‘s your sense of dignity?”
When I abandoned lawyering for library work, I chose fun over dignity. I embraced a work world where I can dance around like a goofball singing to babies and toddlers at story time instead of striding, suit-clad, into court.
Whenever I put on my Doctor Who T-shirt, I make that choice all over again.