By BOB FOULKES

I picked up  my favorite pink shirt in Palm Springs at a Saks Fifth off Fifth store. It was such a deal, I got two. It is a classic, well-tailored man’s dress shirt,  bright pink. No mistaking the colour.

I added them to the Hathaway dress shirt and a button-down collar model I already have.  In a silk shop in Lyon, France, I bought a striking pink tie with red/blue accents to go with them. I have received many compliments, mostly from women.

My prized pink shirt is a soft linen long-sleeved casual shirt I found in a little shop in Varengville, in Normandy. The linen becomes softer with each wash. I never iron it.It is a warm dusty rose color that is perfect for summer wear in Vancouver. In September, I put it away.

French rugby fashion: who you calling effeminate?

I didn’t realize what a complex social and political arena I enter when I put on my pink shirt. There is an obscure website called the Urban Dictionary that describes a “Pink Shirt” as: “ a male who overcompensates in an attempt to be cool. Most likely a fratboy or douchebag who has their (sic) collar popped. So named for their affinity to wear pink shirts to social events.”

The same Urban Dictionary has another definition for a Pink Shirt: “A shirt worn by men who are aiming to ‘get some’ because girls think it looks good. This is because pink shirts are completely feminine, therefore, homosexual. Pink shirts are supposedly manly … In fact, the chances of a young man becoming gay after wearing a pink shirt significantly raise by 37.4%.

Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal, winner of the 2012 Giro d’Italia, loved his winner’s pink shirt so much he got intimate with it.

That hits pretty hard, I didn’t think I was doing any of that. I didn’t think there was any message about my sexual preferences signaled by wearing a pink shirt and I strongly resent being called a fratboy.

On the flip side, since 1931 the winner of the stages of the Giro D’Italia has been awarded a pink jersey as a symbol of leadership, much as stage leaders of the Tour de France wear the yellow jersey. Men who ride bikes thousands of miles across country, up steep mountains and compete in the Tour d’Italia and other famous road races are no slouches. If they can race like madmen to win the right to wear a pink jersey, I am comforted.

Is the key to being rich and cool simply wearing the pink shirt like Peter Norton does?

I own a copy of one of those jerseys and I wear it proudly, both on practice rides and in major events. Ryder Hesjedal, our Canadian cycling hero, won the Tour d’Italia this year; if wearing pink is good enough for him, good enough for the Italians, then it is good enough for me.The British, not to be outdone in the style business, had it both ways. Thomas Pink, an 18th century London tailor, designed the hunting coat worn by Masters of Foxhounds, whippers-in, huntsmen and other hunt staff. The coat was made of scarlet cloth but was always referred to as PINK, after its originator. The French have also waded in on the manly pink issue. France Stade, a top French rugby team shocked the rugby world by wearing pink jerseys in a match in 2005. Unfortunately they lost, but like all Frenchmen, they lost with elan.

Peter Norton, the famous computer programmer of Norton anti-virus software fame, famously wore a pink shirt on the cover of a book he published on programming on early PC platforms in 1985. The book was forever immortalized as the pink shirt book. As we now know, every computer geek is both rich and cool, so I guess wearing a pink shirt makes me rich and cool looking too.

In Canada, there is a special day started in a rural Nova Scotia school to raise awareness about bullying. After a classmate wearing a pink shirt was bullied, students declared the last Wednesday in February as Anti-bullying day — Pink Shirt day — to make a solidarity statement against bullying. People across the country now wear Pink Shirts to show support.

Many men also wear pink in support of the women in their lives who have struggled with cancer. I admire those men; I know they have their heads and hearts in the right place.

Regardless of all these special meanings that might apply to anyone who wears a pink shirt, sometimes a shirt is just a shirt, even if it is pink.

But I’ll leave the last word on the subject to that arbiter of American values, Homer Simpson. In an episode aired in September 1991, Homer wears a pink shirt to work, not because he is making a statement but because Bart put a red hat in the laundry with Homer’s usual white shirts, turning them all pink. Homer has no choice. His co-workers make fun of him and Mr. Burns, his boss, suspects him of being a “free-thinking anarchist.” Homer is committed to a mental institution. The episode is called Stark Raving Dad.

Sometimes a pink shirt is just a shirt. Yes, I’m wearing a pink shirt. What’s it to ya?