Stepping into the past in a pair of Cons

Looking for new sneakers yesterday, and I was transported back to the 1960s. I tried on a pair of black Converse high-tops, the kind I spent a large part of my youth in. Back then, in New York City where I grew up, they were not a fashion statement. They were just a sneaker. The biggest decision we had for many years was black or white, high or low. (I remember my last pair, red low Cons that I actually ran track with during my freshman year at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx in 1971-72. (I think, by sophomore year, my friend David and I travelled somewhere deep into lower Manhattan’s east side, long before it was trendy, to find a pair Asics Tigers, my first real running shoe and much better for running than those Cons).

Funny thing is, yesterday, I didn’t buy them. I felt it looked…wrong…for a guy my age, like an aging punk rocker. It was an odd feeling. It was as if I was seeing myself as others would see me, a feeling that thankfully happens LESS as you age than more — or at least has for me.

Of course, when I opened one box and saw those Velcro-strapped walking shoes that look like armor for your feet on mall walkers, I almost ran back down the aisle to embrace my youth, looks be damned.

I didn’t. I left the store, when home in my Docksiders, with laces, but I can slip them on and off.