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[Short Story] “You Know You’ve Made It”

2017 June 24
by Mike Vial

After finishing my set at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, I said hello to friends by the corner of the stage.

Garret Potter, also a new dad–and the best, damn poet in Ann Arbor–came up to me and gave me a big hug.

“Garret, I saw your post on Facebook. Did you find a ride to the airport last week?” I asked.

“Oh, I drove myself.” he said. “I realized I’m an adult now, and I can just pay for parking!”

We laughed. Adulthood creeps up on you in the weirdest ways.

Then he said, “I finally got one your shirts.”

I had no shirts for sale at the merch tent. I sold my last shirt earlier in the year. I must have looked bewildered.

“You bought my shirt? Where?”

“The thrift store!”

“Wait, what?”

“Yeah! It was like brand new. Fits perfectly.”

“That’s hilarious!”

“Is that weird that one of your shirts was at the Ann Arbor thrift store?”

I considered how there are only 100 Mike Vial shirts. 50 are gray, and 50 are green.

They were great shirts, if I do say so myself. Really soft. Screen-printed locally by VGKids. My logo had a ship burning off in the distance. I sold them for $10. It took me three years to finally get rid of the last batch of smalls…

My dad owns two of them. (He insisted he keep two shirts for the grandkids.) My mom owns one and wears it to my gigs. My wife has one shirt. She wears it when she’s low on laundry.

So that leaves 96 Mike Vial shirts out in the wild. One made its way to the thrift store.

“It’s weird,” I said. “But Sherman Alexie’s father told him, ‘I knew you made it when I saw your book for sale at the Good Will!’ I feel like I’ve made it.”

Garret smiled. “I wish I would have worn it today.”

We said goodbye as the next musical act was starting her first song. Garret walked back to where his family and friends were sitting. He began to chase his toddler around the green.

Later that day, I sold two CDs at the festival. I’m almost sold out of those, too, but maybe you will find one of them at the local thrift store.



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