I'm sure we've all had an outfit or two fall flat despite our grandest intentions. It's natural. It's inevitable. We all can look back and laugh, taking comfort in the fact that it was all part of the process. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take and all that bullshit. But man, don't some of those misses stay with you? It's our earliest defeats that test our fortitude, that solidify our characters. This, my friends, is the story of the first time I had an alphet really fucking brick.
[Scene: Trenton, Michigan, 1989.]
[Interior: Navarre's Shoes.]
Navarre's was a shoe store that specialized in children's footwear. YUP, MY PARENTS TOOK ME TO A SPECIALTY STORE TO GET KICKS OUT THE WOMB. NO WONDER THIS WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING. It was weird, my mom forced me to cop strugwear from T.J. Maxx, but let me ball out on shoes because, in her words, "Shoes that fit are important. You're growing." Obviously, I could give a shit about growing, but that meant I had pretty much free reign in the kicks department "as long as they fit." And my guy at Navarre's was the fucking connect. He hooked up sneakers with side zips, OD green Chucks, etc.—your boy was most definitely killing Claude O. Owen Elementary. PLATE THE NEW J'S. FIRST ONE ON THE SCENE.
It was summer time, and I needed new shoes. But, for whatever reason—I don't remember exactly, to be honest—I didn't need sneakers. I think my mom was trying to get me to stop buying hi-top Reeboks with the double Velcro straps. And guess what caught my eye? A pair of boat shoes. I tried them on, they fit properly and, shit, I was into these. They were the classic boat shoe: ruddy brown, 360 lacing, just screaming to be worn sockless, complaining about the scotch selection at the restaurant while the server is still within earshot. And I loved them. See, I happened to be very much into Miami Vice when I was little. Like, super into it. I seriously used to insist that people call me Tubbs, and my cousin would spike his hair all out and be Crocket. I even got into a little bit of trouble one time during indoor recess because we all decided to play Miami Vice and I brought toy guns to school and my boy Derek bagged up all this powdered sugar in ziplock bags and we had a "raid" in the hallway. Yes, we had to explain to our teachers why Derek was yelling, "Flush the shit! FLUSH THE COKE!" while clogging a toilet with a gallon sized ziplock bag full of powdered sugar. It was the kind of shit you could not possibly get away with in 2014. Anyways, in my head, a pair of pinrolled acidwash jeans with the boat shoes to match was v Miami Vice and, therefore, v la flame.
All my past accolades fell to the wayside. I was suddenly just some fucking nerd in a pair of boat shoes.
My mom copped and I wore the fucking things straight out the store. When was the last time you were so enthusiastic about anything? Can you imagine waltzing right on out the Free International Laboratory with your brand new FBTs on? I know, I was feeling myself. I even suggested we go over to my cool, older cousin's house immediately so I could flex. I know my alphet hubris was at an all-time high because when my mom tells this story, she can't emphasize enough how big of a jawnz-induced smile I had on my stupid face, sitting in the backseat on the way to meet my fate at my cousin's crib.
We get there and I basically 360 rodeo flipped into the abode, just waiting for my cousin to immediately ask his mom to take him to Navarre's asap to get the exact same pair of shoes right that instant or his head would fucking explode. Instead, that cocksucker took one look at them and said, dead ass, because I will never fucking forget, "BOAT SHOES ARE FOR NERDS. THEY'RE STUPID AND UGLY. CONVERSE ARE COOLER."
Fam, I was shook. I didn't know how to react. I'd never had my alphet bomb so hard before. I was the first one in my class to have the Genera Hypercolor shirt that changed color based on body temperature. I was the first to have the Cons with the dinosaur footprint treads back in the day. I had been to San Diego for summer vacation. But none of that mattered that fateful day. All my past accolades fell to the wayside. I was suddenly just some fucking nerd in a pair of boat shoes.
Honestly, I'm proud that I kept it together—that at the time I brushed it off and acted like I was above the influence. But I'm not even sure if I those boat shoes stayed on for the sad, quiet drive back to my house. I do know that I never wore them again. And that I have never worn boat shoes since. I WAS A BLOGGER DURING THE WORKWEAR ERA. DO YOU KNOW HOW FUCKING HARD IT WAS TO TRY AND EXPLAIN WHY I HADN'T BOUGHT A PAIR OF QUODDY'S? "Oh yeah, I know they're handmade and the sole can easily be replaced. I just can't wear boat shoes because it 1989 my older cousin told me they were stupid."
What have I learned since my first brush with pure, unadulterated failure? That no matter who you are, or what you are wearing, there will be always be someone who isn't impressed? That the opinions of others shan't define you? That personal style evolves out of trial and tribulation? LOL NAH.
Boat shoes are for nerds, and Converse are cooler.