When I was a little boy, I didn't really care what shoes I had. If they fit, and didn’t hurt, I was good to go.
I even remember once, when we lived in Vidalia, Louisiana, that I needed some new tennis shoes, and my mother handed me a five dollar bill, and I rode my bike to West Brothers and bought myself a pair of shoes. I was probably 11 or so. This would have been around 1973-1974. I was fine with that.
Then in 1975, we moved from Vidalia (population, oh, about 4,000 souls) to the monstrous, ginormous, incredibly massive city of Monroe, Louisiana (population, oh, about 50,000 souls).
I started eighth grade there at Robert E. Lee Junior High School, and by then I had advanced to my first pair of Converse All-Star (Chuck Taylor) purple low tops. Not fancy, but I loved those things.
Throughout that whole year, I still didn't much care about having the "right" clothes, much less shoes. I bathed every day, and wore decent stuff from Jacques Penn-ay, so I was cruising along.
But next year when I started at Neville High School, for some strange reason, Sainted Mother let me buy my first pair of Nike's. I was in love. With a shoe.
Even then I wasn't trying to fit in. In fact, most of my classmates were all about the Addidas, but something about that white leather pair of Nike's spoke to me.
So, even though I was still a fashion reject because I never sported designer jeans which had become popular, nobody messed with me about stuff like that; I guess that the Nike's were socially acceptable enough. (Plus, being bigger than them helps lower the risk of ridicule.)
Life went on, high school kept creeping along, and then sometime in the tenth grade, whatever pair of Nike's I had at the time, had a serious enough blow out to demand new shoes, and quickly.
One problem, ye olde pocket book of Sainted Mother's was almost bare, and so we ventured off to Monkey Ward to see what could be had on the cheap.
By then, although by no means a clothing snob, I had become attached to Nike's, and dare I say it, dreading having to show up at school wearing a brand new pair of Trax from Kmart, or something that would bring down the ridicule of my friends.
They even had a weird name for lame, off-brand, or ugly shoes. They would call them "pies". Don't ask me why.
Now the word pie could be easily added to to reflect anything from the looks to the smell of a ridiculed pair of shoes and the owner of those shoes. Ex. Smelly AND ugly shoes could might be called "tuna pies." I know, it's stupid, but then so were we at 15. There's no plumbing the depths of the weirdness in the minds of a 15 year old.
Back to the store. I had at least avoided the massive humiliation of having to show up with a pair of Trax from Kmart, my compadres at school could spot a pair of those a good mile away. There was no hiding a pair of Trax. But thankfully they didn't sell them at Montgomery Ward.
Then the problem of Sainted Mother's lack of funds arose, and the only thing I could get, that I though I might be able to slip by my friends was a pair of Converse All-Star fakes, with the unfortunate brand name of "SKIPS."
So I go to school the next day, and all is well, for a while. We were in Phys Ed and had to change into our gym shorts and t-shirts. No more long legged jeans to help hide my Skips.
We were avoiding having to participate in volleyball as much as possible and a bunch of us were sitting on the high school gym's bleachers, as the volleyball nets were set up inside.
By this time, I had completely forgotten about my shoes, when one of my friends, Mike K., sitting a level below me on the bleachers happens to glance down at my shoes.
"Aw, man! Check out Big John's new pies! AW MAN! THEY'RE SKIPS!" and everyone fell about in laughter.
Skips were one level above Trax on the acceptable shoe scale, and my almost-Converse shoes had avoided being laughed at for precisely 4 periods. Half a school day.
The next few months were long, as I wore the Skips, and until I earned enough mowing money to buy my next pair of Nike's.
The ridicule eventually died away, and I was invisible again, just like I liked it.
I can't forget the ridicule of the Skips. I didn't mind the ridicule part, it wasn't what they said that bothered me, it was the ATTENTION. Good or bad, I didn't want attention, and I still don't.
And I'm still a Nike guy, even after all these years. I've tried converting to other