At my newspaper job, one of my coworkers told me a story about a guy who inquired about a fashion writing job at a magazine. All he sent the editor was a Converse Chuck sneaker, with his resume inside. He got the job, too. Because he was so fashion forward. Mmhm. And because he consciously decided to be memorable with a shoe. At the time, Converse sneaks were HUGE. Wait, they're still huge, aren't they? And not just for hipsters. After my successful summer internship and after that story, I looked at (and wore) my grey and pink Chuck poser shoes differently. And I haven't been to Payless for sneakers since.
When I had to say goodbye to these sneaks, it was the first time I had trouble parting with a pair of shoes. I thought I might turn into a materialistic "sneaker-lover." I gasped one day and worried that I was going to end up having 40 pairs of sneakers in my closet and no more money from my internship paychecks because of my newly discovered passion for chunks of leather and rubber. That didn't happen. It was one pair at a time.
After I parted with my Payless sneakers, I decided I would get the real thing. I ordered online (my first time ordering online!) a similar grey pair of Chucks. I got some sweet magenta and grey argyle shoelaces from Hot Topic (we won't talk about my Hot Topic phase), and I was off! You know what? I had so many good times in those sneakers. I wore them almost everyday at school, because they had become molded to my feet. They were fashionable. Girls wore them. Guys wore them. I wore them. I even wrote a ridiculous romantic comedy of a story for Intermediate Writing class about a dreamy guy who wore classic black Chuck Taylor sneakers.
"Originally from Montana, Jack had a Midwestern charm about him that somehow complimented his eccentric outfits. He glided down the street in his faded black Converse sneakers, a vision in his snap-button flowered shirt and orangle tweed trousers. His dusty brown hair curled upon his brow and one kindly dimple framed his smile as he waved to the women sitting outside the hair salon."
Please never ask me to share the rest of the story. And, I don't really think gliding men, who might be my soul mate, actually exist, whether they wear Chucks or not. I've stopped writing romantic comedies.
My (real) pair of grey Chucks, I thought, would have gotten along swimmingly with fictional Jack and his sneaks. So, those shoes and I went through a lot of soul-searching during my college years, especially when it came to mysterious guys with similar taste in shoes. It was no surprise that parting with them..the shoes, silly! was difficult once again. I said goodbye to them in the year 2008, after I had worn them for a couple of years. Here I am in Frankenmuth, Michigan, mini-golfing at a hotel on choir tour with my best buds Katie and Jenna. I never left school to go on tour without packing my favorite, and only, pair of sneakers. Oh, and this was also around the time I started wearing these fellas with corderoy pencil skirts. Ouch. You can never go wrong with your favorite pair of jeans and your favorite pair of sneaks.
Following my sophomore year adventures, I had a short-lived fling with some classic black ones with different colored shoelaces before I decided to try something different. I was inspired by my friend Johanna to try all-black cordoroy shoes. (I really like corduroy.) This began my rebellious phase of fashion experimentation, wearing all-black shoes with formal wear. "Dressing down," skirts and dresses. I've always been more of a casual kind of girl, and it's amazing how a pair of sneakers and a nice dress can make one a delusional combo of hip, rebellious, and edgy. Too bad I don't have a good photo of that time in my life. Probably for the best. Our time together, these all-black, corduroy Chucks and I is still a "to be continued" love/hate relationship. Because around the same time I was giving them a whirl, I discovered a different kind of shoe.
Boys' Skater shoes. And what better skater shoes than those from a skater? Target's new line of Shaun White Shoes. I was browsing the shoe section at Target when I spotted a rack of skater shoes with a big W on the top of the tongue. They. Were. So. Cool. But I walked right past them. A lady was nearby browsing the women's section, which was right next to the shiny Shaun Whites. If I picked up those sneakers, she may have given me the you're-too-young-to-have-a-son-to-buy-those-for-but-you're-too-old-to-wear-them stink eye. She probably wouldn't have done that, because I'm sure she was a nice lady. She picked out some really nice professional heels...what I should have been thinking about. I pretended to try on more mature women's shoes, like a pair of black heels and a cute pair of ballet flats. She finally left the aisle, and I bolted toward the grey, size five boys' Shaun Whites. I tried them on, keeping an eye out for onlookers, or people that stink with their eyes. They fit perfectly. And they were so roomy. Like they were made for me. I put them back, though, and told myself to head back to the black heels.
But, no! I couldn't. I racewalked back to them and snatched 'em up, hiding them under my new Target blouse. I couldn't hide them for long because I had to check out soon. I started making up a story of how I was going to give them to my hypothetical nephew for his birthday...in case the cashier asked. She didn't. And even if she did, I'm really terrible at lying about shoes.
From then on, it was me and my Shaun Whites. I wore them to painting class, where I got a dab of yellow acrylic paint on them. You can still see it. I wore them almost everyday at school. Did I mention how comfy they were? I've also dreamt of pulling a full-size skateboard out of my magical pocket and skating off with it. I couldn't do that (or have that fantasy) without my Shaun Whites on. One of the most memorable times together was...a Swagger Party. With my best friends. In the blacklit basement of my guy friends sort of off-campus house. What we call "the blue house." I participated in a swag contest with my Shaun Whites. We won. We swagged to "Chain Hang Low" by Jibbs. The best (and only) Swag Party I've been to in my life. We danced the night away. My friend Steph and I have this thing we say sometimes:
"Dancin' is best done with my Shaun Whites on." It's true.
After a tiny hole started forming on the inside of the left shoe, I decided I would wear them at camp. Again, I wore them everyday. We spent the whole summer together, my Shaun Whites and I. I dripped tye dye on them the first week of camp and spilled spaghetti sauce on them almost every Sunday during kitchen parties at Springs. They got wet in the summer rain. They're surprisingly water resistant. Paint, dirt, food, children's spit, sno cone juice, adventure canoeing mud, grass stains, horse poop, and good times stuck to those shoes. I hugged people in them. I got to meet campers in them. I had to say goodbye to campers in them. I cried in them. I laughed A LOT in them. After sweat, probably blood - not mine, and tears, I now have to say goodbye. They're also pretty gross. They're no longer the shiny grey they were when I first laid eyes on them. But it's sometimes hard to find a pair of sneakers with such good character.
I'm getting a similar pair of Shaun Whites. Blue ones this time. We're moving to Chicago together. I know we'll have a great time. We all know I'm not really going to grow up and get those black heels. I think I'll always have the heart of a wannabe skater kid. Don't worry, though. I'm not going to wear them to my Rolling Stone or Skateboard Mag job interview. I might just wear my chucks with my new black skirt. Or maybe I'll just send them a shoe.