So, a few weeks ago, I went onto the Converse website and built my own ankle-length Chuck Taylors. I had two pairs of CTs while growing up. But getting them was not easy task.
When I was a kid, my mother bought me "sensible shoes," which were usually Buster Browns or shoes that one might go to church in. Perfect for a growing boy. Orthopedic and all. My pediatrician (whom I am convinced had a few screws loose) thought that the reason I was so clumsy and could not run so well was because I needed sensible, orthopedic shoes. They were brown, with leather soles, and slipped everywhere. And just when I got the scuffed enough to have traction, my mother would have to buy a new pair because I outgrew them. I had big feet for my age: I was a size 9 by 6th grade, and they didn't stop until I reached a size 12 in my freshman year in high school. But once the school told my mother I had motor control issues and the shoes were a detriment rather than a benefit... THEN I got sneakers for the first time in my life.
I'd like to say my running improved, and I became some kind of track star, but while my running and traction improved a lot, my clumsiness stayed until I died, decades after I posted this entry (how's that for leaping around time warping verb tense?). But I must have been 8 or so when I got my first pair of black Chuck Taylors. My mother was suspicious, because they didn't look sensible. But the school did convince her these were a good idea. The soles came off before I outgrew them, which made my mother even further convinced these were a bad idea. She bought a second pair, a red pair, which I didn't like. I didn't want red shoes. The kids called them "clown shoes" because they were so big compared to other kid's; my size 8 dwarfed Vera Chu's size 4 (the smallest foot in the class, during some "how big is your foot" class exercise in grid measurement). But when those wore out, I finally convinced my mother to get me "running shoes," which were all the rage at the time. Pointed toes, stripes on the side... of course, my mother got the $1.99/pair from Dart Drug, not because she was cheap, but neither one of us knew about brand names at the time. And honestly, I don't remember anyone caring until 8th grade, when I personally wanted "Kangaroos" because they had hidden zippered pockets, and a pair of lace-up brown Doc Martens I got used from a surplus store because I thought they looked cool. The DMs were cool, but then the metal toes froze in the winter, and lacing them up was so time-consuming, I only wore them a short while. My mother never liked them, said they looked like "military stomping boots," and they "mysteriously disappeared" after I only had them a few months.
When I got shoved into the bright light of the real world a bit of a preemie at 18, my choice in shoes pretty much went to "acceptable for work" and "cheap." For many years, having one pair of slip-on dress shoes pretty much made my life easy, and I had a pair of beat up sneakers that I hardly wore and just fell apart. Around the same time I started having ankle support issues, I remembered back to those Doc Marten days of youth, and got "high tops," but again, cheapness was my rule. I once got "professional walking shoes" from Kenny, and paid a whopping $75 for them. They lasted 6 months. A $19.99 pair from Payless lasted longer than that, and when they wore out, I just got a new pair. So I did this for years. I considered expensive shoes a sham, and all through the 90s, when I saw a lot of urban youth shooting each other over $200 pairs of athletic shoes they didn't even need, practically speaking, I was disgusted with the whole thing.
When money got better, I was surprised to find Doc Martens were not only still around, but had steel-tips in a hiking-book style. I ordered a pair, and still have them several years later, although I haven't been wearing them as much recently. This is because of a fluke where I got a pair of real Nikes for $25 at a clearance warehouse as "a pair of cheap shoes" to take on a trip to the beach (huge hiking DM clod-hoppers are silly on vacation). I was surprised and delighted they were so comfy, and even more surprised when I started wearing them daily... and in 3 years, they are still working strong.
But do you see where I am going with this? I only got shoes because I needed them. I never got... "fun shoes."
That changed when I was reading someone mentioning in a blog that Converse had a "make your own shoe" site. And it had Chuck Taylors. Over the years, the Taylors were famous in the punk/goth scene, and I had kind of envied those with small feet who could still find old ones in thrift stores. I didn't know you could actually get NEW ones, and I played around with the interface, and found they has some pretty cool colors and styles to mix and match. They had the "remember the 80s" pastels, black, red, and even paisleys, flames, and zebra stripes. RED zebra stripes. I had to have a pair. I HAD to, I mean, how could I pass this kind of thing up? And for $60, they were cheaper than any shoes I have purchased in the last few years. Very classy, if you are into the goth/rocakbilly/new wave sort of thing. I even got "Punkie" monogrammed on them. I got a notice they will arrive Tuesday.
I won't wear them everyday, no. But to cons, yes. Most certainly. You'll see them at Shmoocon, I am sure, and Katsucon, Balticon, and if I get to go to Gencon in 2006, there as well.
My magic shoes.