When I was a kid, there were two types of gifts I loathed getting: books and clothes. Two things which, ironically, I can’t seem to get enough of now. But in 6th grade, I wasn’t that concerned about what I was wearing. And given the atrocities I was photographed in during my teenage years, I’d say I wasn’t that concerned in middle school either. Or maybe I was overly concerned. The line kinda blurs.
I considered my parents very fashionable in those days. Especially my father. Pastels, cowboy boots, fedoras, expensive leather shoulder bags. All at different times, mind you. Not all at once. He was trendy without being kitschy. The classics were always there. In a way, it gave me license to dress however I wanted, provided it fit the occasion. When it came to needs and wants, I was focused on video games, baseball cards and Star Wars figures. Never clothes.
But you always remember your first love…
I was a horrible basketball player. Just not that good at sports in general. Whatever sneakers I owned at the time were either generic Reeboks or Adidas. Still, I lusted after a pair of white Nike Series IV Air Jordan’s. The kind with grey accents dotted with little black speckles. The A-shaped straps that came up from the sides and attached to the laces through little honeycomb-like tabs. The jump man logo on the tongue and the NIKE AIR name emblazoned on the back heel in hard plastic that, letter by letter, was always the first thing to wear down and peel off.
Yeah, those. I needed those.
It was the spring of 1989. I was 12. My grades were mediocre. The shoes were $100. The math wasn’t working out in my favor. Still, I wore my parents down like a champ to get those shoes, and when I put them on, I felt like a complete bad ass. A non-basketball-playing, Men-At-Work-listening, Star-Wars-watching, stamp-collecting bad ass. The first time someone accidentally stepped on my shoe in the hallway at school, I flipped like Buggin’ Out in Do The Right Thing. At the end of the day, the tip of my thumb was brown from licking it and wiping off scuff marks.
Kayden, my step-son, seems to be following in the same footsteps as myself and his father. T-shirts, shorts, sneakers and sweatshirts. The occasional polo and button-down when the situations calls for it. He’s relatively unfazed by the current wave of en vogue accoutrements for middle school boys. (Read: saggy pants, foil-stamped shirts, flat brimmed baseball caps, girlfriends.) Skinny jeans, however, were just too powerful a force to overcome. He needed to have skinny jeans.
“Form fitting?” Totally. Skinny? No. That ship has sailed, and even if it hadn’t, I still wouldn’t pay a ticket to get on it.
Let it be known that my wife can — and on occasion does — wear skinny jeans. I, on the other hand, cannot. “Form fitting?” Totally. Skinny? No. That ship has sailed, and even if it hadn’t, I still wouldn’t pay a ticket to get on it. Not that I’d classify myself as a hater. It’s just not a look I’m particularly fond of on men or boys. Same goes for children’s clothing with either one or all of the following screen-printed on it: motorcycles, birds of prey, guitars, more than one skull. Fortunately none of these interest The Boy either, but The Jeans are another story. On the schoolyard, they are a shining beacon of coolness, just like my sneakers were for me. So far be it from me to deprive The Boy of something that’s going to make him feel like a total bad ass.
NOTE: At this point it’s probably worth mentioning that I somehow guilted my father into buying me a pair of Reebok Pumps a few years later, which probably still holds up today as the stupidest and most gimmicky footwear choice in history, barring dudes who wear Shape-Ups.
So we shot on down to the mall, tried on a few different styles, and came home with a pair of black Volcoms so tight I was sure he wouldn’t be able to fit into them after the first wash. But he did, and now they’ve become a staple in his wardrobe. We even bought a second pair just the other day so he can have something to wear when the first pair is in the laundry. That’s how much he loves those things, and I can see his attitude change when he has them on. They put a swagger in his step, which may or may not be due to the death grip they have on his thighs. Point is, they make him happy, and that makes me happy. I’m sure next year it’ll be something new; some other passing fancy that he’ll look back on in 20 years and laugh about. Just like I did with Cross Colours. Or Jimmy’z cargo pants with the velcro belt. Or Hypercolor shirts. Or maybe JAMS shorts. Or maybe I just need to stop judging anyone’s decisions on clothes ever.