It's wardrobe rotation time. Sweaters are put away, light clothes come out. An excellent occasion to set aside things for donation. "Did you wear that sweater last winter?" "No. But I might!" "No, you won't. You hate the color, it's so small it looks like a condom pulled over a liter bottle of soda, and you're allergic to the fabric. OUT."

I conducted a pitiless purge of my T-shirts, and I'm here to tell you it can be done. It must be done. You have to be ruthless. You must be utterly devoid of ruth. You must be willing to walk up to a finely calibrated Ruth-Possession Detector and spread your arms wide: "You may interrogate my molecular structure down to the quantum level, lads, and you'll naught find a bit of desire to hold onto that T-shirt from 1983."

I'm being disingenuous, because I know the T-shirt from 1983, with the Minnesota Daily logo, is not actually in rotation, but it has been archived to a drawer in another room — I think. It's possible my wife threw it out long ago. It's the Schrodinger's Cat of T-shirts.

So what's to go this year? Well, obviously nothing Daughter gave me. Set those aside. And not the faded black T-shirt with the Red Owl logo — that's my State Fair shirt. This 1970s retro pre-faded soft-drink logo shirt — that's my tubing-down-the-Hudson River shirt. Odd designation, because I never have, and never will.

Various dingy, frayed white T-shirts — these would be good for outdoor chores, like digging up a stump. There surely will be stump removal this summer. One of the arborvitae will be just arbor and not vitae, standing like a corpse kept erect with a coat rack jammed through the back of its shirt, and I will have to excavate the roots. This will, of course, require a change of shirts, thus putting off the job for at least 10 minutes.

"What took so long?"

"Well, you'd be surprised at how the work T-shirts have their own hierarchy. There are a few that could be decontextualized as 'around the house' shirts, with a little bleach. I'd misfiled one shirt as a work shirt, when it actually was something I could imagine wearing to the beach next time we take a trip. That left me with two, and one has a sentimental attachment to 2007, when I remember getting it during a difficult time at work. So I sat on the floor for a while until I could get myself together."

"You're not wearing a shirt at all."

"It was hard to choose."

Let's see, a brightly colored shirt from a British arts festival where I gave a presentation. That goes in the keep pile. One of these days someone will note the design and comment on it, and I'll say, "Yes, popped 'round to Suffolk to give a show, as one does." This never happens, so I have to prime the pump a little. In the elevator I'll sigh heavily and tug the printed portion and say, "Is it just me, or does the printing on the T-shirts they give you for appearing at a British art festival feel heavier than usual?"

There's usually silence for a few floors and then a quick "Can't say" as the elevator doors open and everyone leaves.

In the end, I filled the bag with seven T-shirts, two sweaters, three pairs of pre-diet pants and a cap I bought on a Caribbean trip 24 years ago. Of course, if there's a snowstorm, I have to go to Goodwill and buy everything back. • 612-673-7858 • Twitter: @Lileks •