Old School

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  I’ll continue to use outdated terminology like “once-over,” make mystifying references to characters on popular TV shows of the ’60s and ’70s, and try to wear that “old school” badge with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.

Dissing The Sneads

During our recent vacation, Kish and Russell had high times making fun of these tennis shoes.  Kish said they looked like golf shoes and called them the Sammy Sneads every time I put them on.  Russell, on the other hand, shook his head and sadly advised that shoes made by Skechers are per se uncool.

IMG_4800I bought the shoes at Kohl’s.  They were on the bargain shelf and cost a small fraction of the other gym shoes.  I didn’t know whether they are socially acceptable or not, because I pay no attention to shoe fashion.  I didn’t care whether popular people wear shoes with square toes, round toes, or pointed toes, or whether stripes on the sides are “in” or “out.”

What I did know is that I rebel at the notion of paying more than $100 for a pair of gym shoes that I wear around the neighborhood.  The prices of such shoes seem ridiculous for mass-produced rubber, plastic, and cloth creations.  Obviously, people are paying for brands and status symbols.

I could care less about that.  I admit I’m a cheapskate.  I’ll go for low cost and functionality over “branding” any time.  I’m not a runner.  I don’t play competitive sports.  I’m not trying to make a fashion statement when I go for a walk.

Give me durable shoes that fit and leave money in my wallet, and I’ll wear them happily — “Sneads” or not.