Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why Chucks

I still have a backstock of Chucks in boxes (winter colors, or other styles I'm not ready to wear yet) but I keep wanting/needing to have more active pairs on my shoe racks. I had to break down and, instead of having them all prettily sole-down on the racks, turn them sideways, like they come in the box - sole to sole, one toe forward, the other toe back. I can still see the colors and maybe they will get less dusty this way. Each of my shelves can hold 5 pairs by using to the new setup - 4 turned sideways, with room left for another pair the original way, soles down. The colors have worked out in nice groupings - blues with red and purple, pink solids and prints, oranges and neutrals - of course doing the color groupings is one of my favorite things. My monthly household calendar, in addition to Clean A/C Filter and Dog Flea Meds, now has Dust Chucks. I have to admit I cradle the Chucks in my arms rather like babies as I gently wipe them with a towel.

And yes, I continue to freely admit it is an addiction, but there's more to it than that - in case anyone still wonders or cares, here is more detail on my Chuck Love.

Looking at the colored shoes on white backgrounds is great online shopping...the availability changes every day, almost like eBay or gambling. When I add an item to my Zappos cart the screen screams, "Only l left!" or "Only 2 left!" I admit it's more usually "Only 3 left!", which probably means they start out with 3 of every new style and size, so there's not really a run on my items. But I still fall for the sense of urgency. Sometimes it frustrates me that there's not a good way to eliminate the high-tops and punk designs (skulls, guitars, etc.) from my online searches, but in a way that makes it more fun, giving me more shoes to wade through in pursuit of something good, picturing different designs with my wardrobe..."Maybe the red & white tie-dies wouldn't actually look punk if I wear them with the right outfit" etc.
Because I have so many pairs to wear each one comes up only in infrequent rotation, and I can usually look at the shoes in my closet and remember where I wore them last - with what outfit and to see what people - little slices of my life made more colorful by Chucks.

Chucks have consistent sizing - they always fit with no surprises. This is so different from ordering clothes with a wide range of fit, or trying on items in a store and changing my mind at home when I get a new view of the fit (lack of fit) in my own mirror.

When Chucks arrive in their special Chucks box (brown & black, with eyelet holes punched in the box as if there is a turtle or hamster inside - presumably the holes are really to ventilate the canvas and rubber), they are already laced. There's a thin piece of tissue paper separating the shoes and occasionally each shoe has a small wad of paper inside but other than that, I can put them on immediately - no arduous lacing with alignment of long shoestrings, no break-in bending/stretching like you have to do with a real athletic pair.

It's a bit embarrassing to include but yes, Chucks give me a certain connection, however remote, with the world of sports. To state the obvious, I do not, and have never, played any sport...but Chucks are no longer worn for pro basketball, so the association is not as silly as it might be. And, because they are so simply engineered - the other end of a continuum from something as scientifically designed as a Nike - Chucks don't remind me that I don't exercise enough to need a real sports shoe (although I do wear New Balance or K-Swiss for my neighborhood walks, which would dirty my Chucks anyway).

Not to go too heavy on the medical drama here, but because of the nerve damage in my feet I don't walk well in thick soles. The increased ground contact I get with lightweight Chucks makes me feel almost like a dancer, or at least someone who walks with more spring.

There is another upside to the relative flimsiness of them - well-worn Chucks get dingy and they come apart (not that my zillion pairs would get enough rotation for this to happen anytime soon), but I kind of like the fact that they are temporary shoes, for play and for fun.

Chucks actually make it fun to get dressed - pairing colors and designs with outfits, even otherwise boring outfits. I'm able to look down at my cheerful Chucks while driving to my boring destination, i.e. the grocery store, and while I'm trudging down the aisles.

When I have to wear non-Chucks to the office, sometimes I leave a pair of Chucks in my car, with clean white socks, and I put them on for the drive home. Somehow they give me a boost, which is weird since in this weather they get warm while sitting in the car (even in a basement parking garage) and my feet don't work right when they're warm - but my office is freezing cold all day so putting on the slightly warm Chucks after 5 feels good.

Compliments received on Chucks are completely painless to accept, with no self-consciousness. Men seem to have a special fondness for Chucks, granting even my pastel star-studded pair a connection with the legacy of basketball, and a male compliment that has absolutely no reference to one's body is refreshing. Chuck compliments, which sometimes even come with squeals, are always sincere - nothing like the "Did you get a haircut?" type of comment received when people don't like your new style but just feel compelled to say something.

As previously mentioned online, my sainted brother wore Chucks, although he only had one or two pairs at a time (a newer pair, and a nastier pair) and only wore one color - the exact name of which, a legacy orange-gold, I haven't figured out yet. My sister-in-law has reminded me that Tim's friends acknowledged his habit by tying Chucks to the going-away car at their wedding.

I sometimes wore Keds as a child - there are photographs of me in a red pair - and while of course Keds are not the same as Chucks, they did have round toes and there is a certain nice nostalgia, especially when I wear my solid-red Chucks.

I think my father wore a predecessor of Chucks, some cheap 1930s version, in his childhood, when it got too cold to go barefoot. (Leather shoes were for rare occasions.) There's also a connection with the common canvas shoes worn in China and other Asian countries. Thus, family history Chucks? Global Chucks?

And OK, although I'm not usually snobby about brands, I like buying real Converse, which I do think are better made than the knockoffs, and cuter. (I have one pair of Target fakes, bought months before my addiction began, and they don't feel or look anything like the real thing.)

With Chucks, I'm matching my clothes from the shoes up - fewer concerns about skin color, hair color, age-appropriateness, or anything else. All kinds of colors are flattering on my feet! They are a truly blank canvas.

Although I'm usually a stickler for colors really matching, sometimes I allow off shades in clothes worn with Chucks - because except for long pants (and I wouldn't wear bright-colored pants anyway) the Chucks aren't adjacent to my outfit - my legs provide a separation so what's on my feet doesn't have to match exactly.

I had planned to write that my Chucks inspire me to accessorize more than I have in the past - even on slobby days where I'm only leaving the house to buy groceries or gas - but as of July, I am too hot to care about jewelry, even my beloved colored crystal bracelets. However, Chucks add Chuck-glamor to even a slobby outfit.

When I started wearing Chucks in the early spring, I needed double socks to keep them from sliding on my feet - but now that it's summer and I continue to swell from heat, wine and middle age, they fit great with just one pair of socks. I just slip them on and go - no fancy lacing, no special socks, no stiff heel to be broken in.

On days I work from home, I traditionally haven't worn shoes inside the house (I just let my white socks pick up floor dirt all day) but now I've started wearing Chucks on remote work days. This gives me an opportunity to put more mileage on the Chucks (wear more colors in a week), it gives me a psychological uplift (I smile down at my cute shoes), and having any type of shoe on somehow makes me feel more businesslike. There's something really silly about wearing shoes indoors though - it reminds me of a mother putting shoes on a baby that hasn't started walking yet. I think we follow the same principle: socks would be sufficient, but cute shoes are more fun.

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