My love affair with Chuck

My best friend and I were discussing shoes today. Not like girly shoes, high heels and “oh, those are SOOO cute!” kind of shoes. Just shoes. I mentioned how badly I need to get my feet in a pair of real shoes. My doctor warned me a few weeks ago that my flat feet could potentially cause alot of pain in my near future and I need to slip into some comfortable shoes with good arch support.

Chuck Taylors are NOT known for their good arch support. But Jessie and I agreed that we love our Chucks. I am a flip flops and Chinese slippers kinda girl. Tennis shoes, sneakers, boots – ugh! No!!! Those are like a straightjackets to our precious little puppies. But I desperately need a real pair of shoes. Ever since I walked the craggy path up to Chimney Rock in my Converse sneakers, I have fallen in love with walking craggy paths to other incredibly beautiful natural wonders. It looks like my 20-year relationship with Chucks might be coming to an end. But not quite yet. Soon, though. I think I’d like to reflect:

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This is the pair that started it all. I really thought I was something special by slapping a few pairs of different colored socks over my french-rolled jeans and shouldering a boombox down the road to Rhondra’s house. There, in her bedroom, we’d practice our dance moves to New Edition and The Jets, then I’d go home and paint a face on my knee, a la Debbie Gibson’s “Out of the Blue” album cover. Styled with my 4-inch bangs and shredded jeans (and my awesomely sexy plastic rose pink eyeglasses), Kris Peterson asked me to go out with him. I said no. My years as a heartbreaker were just beginning.

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Pink was so immature and rural Upper Michigan. I had graduated to blue and burgundy by the time I entered high school in the gang-infested Washington, DC suburb known as Prince Georges’ County, Maryland. That burgundy pair you see up there – those babies helped me escape a gang of thugs hellbent on beating the shirt out of a white person. Because, you see, I was personally responsible for handing the whacking sticks to the LAPD and clubbing Rodney King to a bloody pulp. It was that afternoon, on the second floor near my history class, that I learned how fast a white girl could run. And to never, I repeat – NEVER!! – proclaim your loyalty to any one particular color. I’m sure this is why the grunge movement made such an impact on my fashion choices. Gang members are easily confused by plaid.

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An honest-to-goodness staple in any teenager’s closet. The beloved black Chucks. I’ve had this pair since my last year of high school (black was neutral, you see, and I was pretty much ignored by gang members at this point). My friend, Brendan, always had a pair of black Chucks on his big ol’ feet. Even when he graduated from Crossland High School in 1992, two years before I would walk across the stage for my own diploma, Brendan’s black Chucks poked out from underneath his graduation gown. He defied the “dress shoes” policy and we all loved him even more. Brendan passed away in 1996, at about this time of year. I don’t have it in me to get rid of my black Chucks just yet.

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Aaaah…my navy pair of Chucks. I love them but they look awkward because this particular shade of blue conflicts with any other shade of blue denim. I still have them in my closet, taking up space and quietly promising that one day they will either match with something or I’ll just grow so old that I won’t give a shit about matching anything. Except maybe one shoe with another. We’ll see.

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It’s a shame I couldn’t find a photograph of my first “real” pair of shoes. It’s been around 10 years that I’ve had this pair of suede One Stars, light brown – bone, is what Converse calls it – and they match with everything. And they’re suede! I remember opening this box on a long-ago Christmas morning and thinking, “Wow, this is probably the most expensive pair of shoes I own!” I was right, they weren’t cheap. But they’re beautiful and still have the original laces. But because I’m a flip flops and Chinese slippers kinda girl, they haven’t been worn out. Just worn. They’ve been loved.

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This is my most recently acquired pair – aren’t they cute!?!? Chocolate brown suede, plaid in the star and stripe. Just adorable. They were a gift from a friend, a friend I had shared nearly everything with since we met in 1990, a friend I no longer have. I won’t exactly blame the shoes but they had a part in the overall demise of our relationship. Do I love these shoes? YES! Would I happily give them back in return for my friend’s trust and respect again? Yes. Yes. Yes. I miss you, Doug.

So, folks, there you have it. I know other people have a story of their own and you are welcome to share yours in the comments.

converse Pictures, Images and Photos

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About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
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2 Responses to My love affair with Chuck

  1. Geekzilla says:

    I never found Chucks to be comfortable. In fact, I found them to be downright painful. Too painful to be stylish at the end of the day. It was as bad as walking barefoot – if not worse. There was the sense of, “Oh, I'm wearing shoes so everything will be okay,” but at some point, you have to give up style for comfort.And as much as I like Doc Marten's, even they don't prove to be walking shoes. Stylish, yes/maybe, but comfort… no.I like me some size 10 Nike sneakers. Stylish, no. But comfort, yes. I can walk endlessly in them.(Yeah, I still owe you Asheville.)

  2. Laura Lee says:

    I've inherited my mom's penchant for having the right shoe (and purse) for each occasion. Without it being gaudy. Just functional. This has led to lots of shoe generations… cuz if I can't wear them for more than a couple hours without taking them off my pounding, swollen feet… I just can't be SEXAY at the end of the day!!!

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