Charles In Charge

My first pair was purple.

I purchased my first pair of Converse All Stars for twenty bucks at Connelly’s Discount Clothes in Wayne, Pennsylvania. I was fifteen-years-old, and had recently formed my first band, Neoteric Youth.

The fact that my father had played three years of high school basketball in the exact same archless, black canvas sneakers — allbeit black ones — had no bearing in my decision to purchase ’em.

In fact, I’m not sure what motivated the purchase. The skaters were wearin’ Vans. The burners were wearin’ Nikes. And the hip-hoppers (fledgling as they were in 1986) were wearin’ Adidas.

As a fifteen-years-old sophomore in a high school full of sameness (“I wanna’ be different just like my friends”), high-top purple Chucks made me feel unique, and maybe just a little bit rockin’.

I’ve blown through a dozen or so pair since then: baby blue, navy, black. Anything but red or white. And though the brand has jumped the shark more than once — remember those extra-tall ones that folded down? or the red, white and blue ones? or gold lame? (wait, those were cool.) — twenty years later, my black Chucks reflect the same values.

Today, beneath a pair of frayed jeans, a gray t-shirt, and a navy blue sport coat, my Chucks gave me a shred of swagger that my whitewashed corporate office would otherwise have neutered. They’re perfect, torn and tattered in all the right places to reveal a hint of funky, mismatched argyles.

Of course, I’ve spotted MTVN’s CEO, Judy McGrath, wearing the same black, low-tops beneath her smart, blue business suit. They’re as regular as Buster Browns these days.

Still, they may be pervasive, and they may not be much, but they’re just right, and just enough to get me through.

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