Matchstick Cats the webcomic by @NeaLireland - MatchstickCats.com IYH BLOG: Johnny Cash and the String Vest Issue | Matchstick Cats the webcomic
IYH BLOG: Johnny Cash and the String Vest Issue | Matchstick Cats the webcomic

IYH BLOG: Johnny Cash and the String Vest Issue

I must admit that after first watching the movie “Walk the Line”, based on the biography of Johnny Cash, a long-held bitterness about the world’s attitude to white vests was reawakened in me. For those who don’t know, this all started a number of years ago when I spent a Summer working as a sock model for an underwear manufacturer here on the east coast of Ireland .

You are probably not aware that there are two completely different ways of making string vests. The traditional method, of course, involves simply knitting the vest from a long roll of white string. This was perfectly adequate for many centuries, when the only cats were tigers and lions who lived far away in the jungle, and were of no particular threat to the average male whose string vest had a loose thread. When wild cats wanted some string to play with, then just had to go find themselves a sheep.

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Then of course, somebody invented the domestic cat. And everything unravelled. So the clothes designers came up with a new idea. Most modern string vests are made by punching a series of holes in a plain white t-shirt, until it becomes effectively a string vest, with the advantage of not being made from a ball of string. Now, these vests bear absolutely no relation to the awful string vests of the early twentieth century, yet apparently it is “uncool” to be seen wearing one.

However, if the aforementioned movie is to be believed, Johnny Cash’s career was going reasonably well until he ditched his cool white vests and started to dress entirely in black. A feeble attempt, of course, to turn himself into an artificial black cat, thereby attracting good luck. However, Cash apparently misunderstood the concept of “crossing your path”. Rather than traversing the carriageway directly from one side to the other, as any competent black cat will do, Cash decided to stop halfway across, then, in a pathetic attempt to outdo his feline heroes, he “Walked the Line”.

The result of course was Cash’s infamous arrest for jaywalking, followed by a spell in prison. And rightly so. But the point is, Johnny Cash has recently attracted a new generation of young fans, despite having been seen blatantly wearing a white vest on at least two occasions, as depicted in this authorised biographical movie. Not only that, there have been several films over the years in which vest-wearers have been depicted as tremendously cool and macho – Martin Sheen in “Wall Street”, for example, and that guy in “Rambo”.

And Bruce Willis in pretty much everything, except of course “The Sixth Sense”, in which he played a **** ***. (I’ve deleted a couple of potential “spoiler” words here in case you haven’t seen the film yet). Those guys don’t wear vests because if they did, you would be able to see their decomposing arms, and that would distract you from what they are saying. There’s nothing more irritating than having someone stare at your decomposing elbows when you’re trying to subtly explain a major plot point through a conversation with another character.

Anyway the point is, I’ve never managed to get the hang of these damn subtle differences between the real world and the word of make-believe. I mean, last night I dreamed that I was eating a cat. Yet, when I woke up, I was ravenously hungry. That’s ridiculous. There must have been at least a half pound of meat on that thing. But of course a dream interpreter will charge you a week’s wages to tell you that the cat whose meat you ate in the dream was made of “black matter”, like the stuff they’ve discovered in black holes in space so it just makes your stomach even less full than it was before you started the dream.

Then you pay another week’s wages to a nutritionist, who’ll tell you cats don’t contain enough vitamin “C”, and you’d better buy a bucket of these orange tablets or you’ll die. Well, I didn’t buy them, and I’m still here. Instead, I fed them to my neighbour’s black cat. My experience with the dream interpreter has led me to believe that a black cat is some sort of weird creature that’s made from anti-matter. If that’s the case, they probably spend their entire day getting hungrier and hungrier. Poor bastards. So anyway, I ate it.

(First published yonks ago on one of my old websites)

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