Good Men Project

Throw Beck Thursday: The Perils of Middle Aged Shoe Shopping

running shoes

All I wanted was shoes, not wearable traffic cones.

beckWhen it comes to buying clothes I couldn’t be more predictably male. I own five of the same shirt, for example, because it fits and it covers up my gorilla body. That’s all a shirt really needs to do. For 35 years from the waist down I’ve worn Levi’s.

With shoes I’m a bit more flexible, but not much. I own a pair of Doc Martens that are older than my kids, and there’s always room in my closet for a pair of Chucks. I even own a pair of sandals, but my go-to footwear for the last two decades has been Saucony running shoes. The choice was a practical one: Sauconys fit ridiculous duck feet like mine. (Gorilla body, duck feet. Getting hot, ladies?) Besides, I was running a lot of miles back then and I wanted to be ready whenever the opportunity arose. Sporting a pair of running shoes made even more sense after my kids came along. Don’t believe me? Place a toddler fifty feet from a flaming disco ball made of steak knives and turn your head. NFL scouts will line up to congratulate you on your sprinting speed.

I wear shoes until they look like props from Castaway and then I wear them another month, just to get my money’s worth. Countless trends come and go between my visits to the shoe store. I missed inflatable shoes, springy shoes, shape your butt shoes, and—really?—barefoot shoes. I’ve never worn a Croc, a Jordan, a cowboy boot, or those ugly dress shoes with the long, pointy toes that orange guys in skinny jeans and Affliction tees seem to prefer. Nope, I just run in, grab a pair of Sauconys, and get out. I am the Delta Force of shoe shopping.

The shoe gods conspired against me today. Apparently the current trend is running shoes designed by colorblind circus clowns: garish, visually overcomplicated, day-glo atrocities, and by that I mean the shoes, not the clowns. Okay, maybe the clowns, too, but the point is that I tried to talk myself into a pair of neon Sauconys, I really did. They won’t look so bad on. They’ll stop glowing when they get dirty. A guy with five of the same shirt and a stack of Levi’s isn’t big on change.

But standing there with a pair of lace-up cartoons in my hands, I had a little moment of self-reflection. My days of keeping up with toddlers are long over, and as my gut suggests so are my running days. I’m now one of those old dudes who walks around the neighborhood, talking to cats and waving at gardeners. I don’t need a pair of fluorescent orange Aggro Shredder Hurricane model kicks to do that.

So I put back the wearable popsicles and grabbed a fresh pair of canvas Converse All-Stars – cheap, simple, and comfortable. Maybe I should’ve bought five pairs. After all, there’s always room for Chucks.

photo Timothy Takemoto/Flickr

originally posted at The Good Men Project

Categories: Good Men Project

1 reply »

  1. I have a pair of brown sandals that I received as a birthday gift I’m guessing twenty-five years ago. I wear them a lot when it’s warm outside. They’re not much to look at anymore, but…they fit like a glove, or rather a pair of. I still pull out the ol’ tan Dingos from time to time. I don’t wear them much because they’re tighter than they used to be. They’re much older than the sandals. For the rare and very formal events I wear a pair of black dress shoes I’ve had for at least twenty years. I also have a pair of brown Nike hiking shoes I wore most of my countless trips to Kennedy Space Center.

    When I was 28 I started jogging. Serious jogging. Well, serious to me anyway. Up until about my 43rd year or so it was rare that I didn’t put in three miles a day, six days a week. Besides a pair of black Nike cross-trainers, for most of those miles I wore a pair of white Reeboks, white with red and silver trim. I have to say those were very good shoes. It’s hard to believe they lasted that long, but they did. In fact, I still wear them…to mow the lawn. When I was young, I had pairs of white Converses and Pumas. As far as I can recall, they and the pair of Reeboks are the only white shoes I ever bought.

    I like black. I have a black car, a black coat, black shirts, black jeans, even a black cowboy hat. And if I’m not wearing the aforementioned sandals I’m wearing black shoes. Always will. I’ve bought Nike, New Balance, Avia, just to name a few. As long as they’re solid black, feel good and not too expensive, then that’s for me. And when it comes to choosing which socks to wear? No problem there. They’re all black too.


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