it was with great shame that i laced up my first pair of running shoes on the first day of the junior high track season. they were dingy grey asics, reflective, with red trim. they were ugly. the disappointing result of an afternoon spent in rochester's athletic shoe stores with a checkbook holder who saw no flaw in ugly.
here is a rationale that will have little to no impact on a 13 year old girl: c'mon christa. it's track practice, not a fashion show.
um, false? what, for a seventh grader, constitutes a fashion show, if not junior high track practice? boys, check. judgemental eighth grade girls, permed, glossed and swelled to resemble something that could not scientifically be just one year older? check.
that sounded a hell of a lot like a fashion show to me.
i spent the night before our first practice on the phone with an equally naive future trackster. my best friend princess linda -- more vain than even i, but only because she could afford to be. her dad worked for IBM. her shoes were ugly, too. baby blue and white. we were doomed. we probably wept. we probably wrote about it in our diaries.
funny that it didn't occur to me that not being able to find cute running shoes probably meant that in 1988, no such thing existed. so the only people who noticed my shoes at practice were the people i cornered and confided: seriously. look at my ugly shoes. and wearing them around the eighth-grade girls did nothing to trigger a snark attack. they all had ugly shoes, too. it was like it hadn't even occured to them to pick at this one raw area of a seventh-grader's psyche. as for the boys? they were too busy looking at the eighth grade girls' perms, gloss and swells.
it was as if junior high track practice wasn't even a fashion show.
a few weeks later, when i got special spikes for racing and long jumping, ugly had become the new super-cool. the uglier the shoe, the super-cooler they were. then, not only did they have to be ugly, they had to smell bad. like rotten onions left in the rain. when your backpack, your locker, your hair and your bedroom had absorbed the smell, you knew your track and field career was off the ground. by the time your toenails turned black and fell off, you were probably a state-caliber athlete. if you could belch a coherent word? valedictorian, if not just homecoming queen.
the ugly shoe theory obviously changed my life.
so, i've never owned a pair of pretty running shoes. well, once i had a pretty kicky pair of futuristic-looking nike's. blue and black, hidden laces, thin soles. comfortable as tube socks, but with less support.
these are my latest. i can't wait until the whole freakin' town smells like my feet.