Sneakers as Status Symbols
I’m in the market for new sneakers--not because the ones I have are worn out but because they’re dirty. And nobody wears dirty sneakers in my world. Do they in yours? (On whom do you see old or dirty sneakers? What does that tell you?)
Sneakers used to be…well, just shoes. Today kicks are so closely associated with hip-hop that there are at least 20 hip-hops songs associated with sneakers. (I only thought of Nelly’s “Air Force Ones” and Run DMC’s “My Adidas”.) Now sneakers are status symbols for a vast variety of the population—not only hip-hop performers and those who love that music. Once reserved for sports, sneakers are standard for casual wear and are paired by many in otherwise formal attire. But they’re all so clean! Many of them are gleaming white, in whole or in part. Matching every outfit of their owners. I don’t have several pairs, but I always own one pair for gym-going. Lately, I’ve been thinking that my gym footwear is just not up to par. And why is this the case?
The story of the somewhat grimy looking sneakers goes back a couple months. As I left the bank, I heard an odd noise from the front of my car. Fast-forward three days and my mechanic declared that the car should be towed. Since my husband and I sometimes carpool to work, transportation to work is not problem. My worry, however, was getting to the gym without a car.
Surely, this would be easy since I know lots of people at the gym and had been a member for about 15 months. As I thought about this, I realized that I only had the telephone number of one person there. I only needed one willing soul, so I called Suzie. She was willing to pick me up but would not be working out that next day. Well, I thought, it’s not that far away. It takes me about five minutes to drive there. Maybe I would walk. I remembered that there aren’t sidewalks everywhere in my city so thought about exactly where I would walk. Satisfied that I would probably not be run over, I decided to do it.
The next morning I thought about all the people I chat with at the gym and sighed in disbelief that I had no way of contacting any more than two of them; how is that for the anonymous and alienating nature of city life?
During the holidays I had gone to two social events that one of the instructors had organized for gym members. This reminded me that I had her number but I balked at calling her. I thought about the miles I walked as a high school student living in Antigua and decided that for someone interested in staying in shape, walking to the gym actually made sense. It is a great form of exercise, after all.
So I bundled up and headed outside, pleased that I didn’t let the absent car stop me from sticking to my exercise schedule. I had no idea before going out, but there was a slight drizzle. No problem. I headed back indoors for some rain gear. That’s when I remembered I store my pink camouflage hooded slicker in the car. And that my rain hat lives there too. Undaunted, I pulled up the hood of my winter jacket and went back out.
By the time I walked to the major road—that is, the short part of the walk, I was second-guessing this great idea. My sneakers were feeling a bit moist. And as I turned onto the main road, there was a patch with no sidewalk so I had to walk in the damp grass. When I finally made it to the gym I was thrilled and triumphant but stunned at how long it took me to get there. It was three quarters of an hour since I left home and I was yet to begin my official workout. Figuring that an hour and half walk (total time for both directions) was enough cardio, I did some weights and felt proud of myself. I then headed back home in the continuing drizzle. My sneakers have never been the same.
My sneakers picked up mud, grass and dirt during my trek. Back when sneakers looked like the ones pictured at left and were merely shoes, and when we walked more, neither would be odd. (Unless you’re an outdoor runner—in which case you probably don’t run in grass, pebbles and other debris.) But today sneakers are expensive status symbols that are pampered; at one extreme is a sneakerhead who has more than 2,000 lovingly displayed in a San Diego warehouse. My one-time road weary shoes are a give away at my uncool status in a gym filled with people wearing sneakers that look like they have just been unboxed; I’m giving in to peer pressure and buying a new pair soon.