Over the weekend I was out for a walk in my casual garb. As I was stopped on a corner, waiting to cross the street at a light, a young, highly barbered guy next to me gave me the once-over and said, with a nod of apparent approval, that my shoes were “old school.”
Is “old school” in fact a compliment, or is it just a polite way of saying that something is old-fashioned, which is never a good thing in always moving, always changing, always in the “now” America? I took it as a positive comment, however it might have been intended, and as the light changed I strode forward with a warm surge of pleasure that someone in the 25-and-under generation had voluntarily acknowledged my existence and made an arguably favorable comment about my appearance. Normally, I’m one of those guys that the young bucks pass without so much as a glance — just as I undoubtedly walked past guys in their 50s, without really paying any attention to them, when I was a college student.
So my sneakers are “old school,” and I guess I am, too. So “old school,” incidentally, that I call them “sneakers” or “tennis shoes,” both terms that seem to have gone the way of “23 skidoo.” (Nowadays, I think you are supposed to refer to your “athletic footwear” by its brand, as in “I got a new pair of Nikes yesterday.”) I’ll continue to use outdated terminology like “once-over,” make mystifying references to characters on popular TV shows of the ’60s and ’70s, and try to wear that “old school” badge with pride.