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A “wifebeater” is type of shirt. I guess the name comes from the fact that it seems to be the unofficial uniform of the less fashion enlightened. And anyone who has ever seen a domestic violence call on COPS can tell you, the guy being hauled away from the house is nearly always wearing one.

It is kind of a tank top, kind of a sleeveless T-shirt with big ass armholes. Best part, it is the bare minimum of shirtage allowed before the restaurant owner can enforce the “no shirt, no shoes, no service” rule.

The extended armholes allow for maximum exposure to the flesh underneath. In this way the wearer can get the ultimate mileage from his favorite tats by letting you know straight off that he loves his mama, the Lord, Dokken and Ratt. He might even show his softer more introspective side with roses and daggers. Extra fashion points if there is a tattoo blood drop coming from either the dagger or the rose. The important part is, the gut is available for belly rubs, which the wearer is all too happy to manage himself, though I bet he would let you do it for him if you were so inclined. Hair may sprout from the shoulders and biceps, or you might catch a sweeping side view of his manboobs. The gut in the wifebeater shirt will be larger depending on the age of the wearer, perhaps hairy and pallid.

The other side of the wifebeater wearing camp is young, hopped up on Mountain Dew and most certainly sporting a mullet, smoking Kools, heading back to the trailer in his dusty old sports car, where his pregnant teenage girlfriend waits in cutoff jeans, black bra and white tank top. Or not. Maybe he is really a lawyer or a doctor and here we are, making all kinds of assumptions about his lifestyle based on his tattoos, mullet and shirt-which-looks-much-like-an-apron. And maybe that 40oz of Bud Lite is for his mama.

A fun game on a hot summer day: go to a dumpy beach, the kind where the regular people go. Find a biker picnic and set up. Watch as the wifebeater tan frolics in the surf, those tanned arms and underarm circles in stark contrast to his pale white skin, looking like he finally has a shirt with no logo. Score extra points if he is balding and usually wears a hat but has taken it off to show you his fishbelly white forehead. Warning: Severe penalty and loss of teeth if anyone catches on to you. Even though these delightful visuals are available to everyone, you do not want to call attention to your own amusement. These people are serious; they do not dress themselves every morning just to make us laugh.

This shirt can also be referred to as a singlet, and is often worn by men and boys alike, as perfectly normal undershirts. As an undershirt, I say rock on.

As an outer shirt, not so much.

Unless of course you are a hot Australian surfer, and if you are, thank you for being mostly naked even when you are not hanging ten.

Wifebeater

Yeah,I'm a comfortable tee shirt
no confines to keep my wearers arms
from swinging his hairy knuckled ham hands
at the back or belly of his common law wife

My favorite place to hide though
Is under a button down Oxford,
Under that Brooks Brothers suit
I can hide,
hide there and no one,
No one, suspects I'm there
You won't find us on the dole
or at the O.T.B.
We're at work,
For a Fortune 500 company
No one looks for me here.

After all, how could my wearer beat his spouse
if he's busy hosting a weekend at the Vineyard?
You'll more likely hear him dumping buckets full of
verbal abuse and humiliation on her.
But when the guests have gone,
and the caterer has left,
Then I get to breathe,
When the sweater and the Oxford come off.


I dreamt of you last night.
The night he chased you down,
And threw you to the ground.
It breaks me to see you scared.
To see him angry.
To see you both.

Apart.

Him, not wanting you to leave.
You, not wanting him there.
So tonight I'll listen to sad songs.

He ends up in our guest room.
Hurting and ashamed.
Just across the hall from me.
And still you filled my dreams.
I can only wonder if you feel the same.
Alone in your house.

As I cradle and comfort my pillow.
Wishing it was you.
And now the world knows.
That I'm a sucker
For a woman in trouble.

Wifebeater is a slang term in the UK and Australia for Stella Artois beer.

It appears that the term may have originated as a reference to A Streetcar Named Desire (thanks to dutchess and WaldemarExkul for pointing this out).

No doubt this says something about the stereotypical person who drinks large quantities of Stella - they tend to become somewhat aggressive and violent. Rumour has it that Stella has more chemical additives than other beers, which could have something to do with this. This would also explain the terrible hangovers experienced after consuming too much (affectionately known as Stella Head).

Other nicknames for Stella are fight-juice and fighting-fluid.

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