My life-long addiction to sneakers began innocently enough with Kangaroos. You remember Roos; those were the sneakers that had a pocket with a zipper on the side. My friends and I would all keep a dollar in there just in case you had to buy a slice or some lemonheads or something.
But the first sneaker that really made an impression on me was the Adidas Shelltoe. My older brother, who is ten years my senior, had a pair with the blue stripes. Those sneakers were about 50 bucks, which at the time was a whole lot of loot. They were so beautiful, a work of art in footwear form. My brother hardly wore his new expensive kicks with the fat shoelaces.
I remember one day my mother was in my brother’s room watching her novelas (Spanish language soap-operas) when I decided to make my move. While my mom was engrossed with her show, I took the opportunity to deface my brother sneakers with a magic marker. I still don’t know why I did it. Was it jealously because I couldn’t have those beautiful sneakers or revenge because my brother was a big bully? Well anyway, when the shit hit the fan I blamed my cousins instead of owning up to it. Let me tell you, my cousins got the beating of a lifetime. They still, to this day, remind me of the beat down they received at the hands of my uncle.
Once I hit Junior High, P.S. 143 in Washington Heights, I was a full-fledged sneaker addict. My mom knew how important sneakers were to me, so even though she couldn’t buy me new clothes all the time, she kept my sneaker game tight. Every few months my mom would buy me a new pair of kicks. I started to get recognition for my kicks and I was hooked. I remember, I was the first kid in school who had the blue Air Revolutions as well as the blue and orange Patrick Ewing kicks.
The Ewing’s eventually got stolen from my locker at the High Bridge Public pool – so I in turn, stole some other poor unfortunate soul’s sneakers so I wouldn’t have to walk home barefoot. The one sneaker from that era I wish I could get my hands on again is the special edition Run-DMC snakeskin Adidas shoe. They were so next level; I was the only cat in the whole hood to have those.
In 1988, my addiction took a turn for the worse. That was the year that the Air Jordan III came out. My life would never be the same again. Those were the most incredible kicks I had ever seen. Words could not describe how I felt the moment I saw those shoes. From that point on, Air Jordan’s would become my sneaker of choice. Jordan’s are the sneaker par excellence.
In almost every old picture I have of myself, I‘m wearing Jordan’s. I can still recall waiting in front of Foot Locker for it to open to get my fix on. You see, back in the day, if you didn’t get your Jordan’s on the release date, at the store and not online, you might not be able to get them at all. You know I wasn’t having that.
As I entered adulthood I was still a sneaker fiend, even more so, because I was able to pay for my habit. I have about 33 pairs of Jordan’s, still in the box, in my closet. I only wear them on special occasions. The thing for sneaker fiends is that we live for “The Nod”. “The Nod” is when someone on the street has to take a quick look at your sneakers because they can’t believe you have those kicks on brand new. It’s a subtle way of acknowledging your sneaker prowess. That’s what it’s all about, that is the source of our high. Now that I’m a grown ass man with a family, mad bills and a mortgage hanging over my head, I can no longer afford to keep buying Jordans. That’s okay though because I got my stash. My sneaker game is still tight.