My name is Middle-age butch, and I am addicted to sneakers

My first pair of Nikes looked like this.

My first pair of Nikes looked like this.

I got my first pair of Nikes when I was about 11 years old.  Ladies Roadrunners, light blue with darker blue swooshes.  My mom bought them for me from a sporting goods store in the Berkshire Mall.  I slipped them on, laced them up and raced around the perimeter of the store.  I insisted I could run faster, jump higher in these expensive running shoes.  Each time I looked down at my feet, I broke out in a big, silly grin that these days I reserve for Sofia Vergara and clips of Beyoncé in concert.

The Nikes came in a bright orange box with a map of the world on the front.  The map showed the shoes were made in Beaverton, Ore., and sold all over the world.

Beaverton, Oregon.  How special and exotic, my 11-year-old self said.

My 47-year-old lesbian self says he he he he he he.

I was hooked.  It was with that pair of Nikes that I became obsessed with athletic shoes.  Tennis shoes.  Sneakers.  Kicks.  Whatever you call them, I love them.

I came back for more Nikes.  My next pair were Nike Roadrunners, dark blue with complimentary light blue swooshes.  They were the Bizarro version of my first pair — the same thing just reversed.

I can’t remember all of my sneakers (that’s what we call them in the Philadelphia suburbs).  There have been so many:


Always a classic.

The high-top gray Chucks that I bought with money I made working at McDonald’s.

The three-quarter cut Reebok basketball shoes with the black and neon pink accents.  Note: These were the most expensive pair of sneakers I ever purchased.  I shelled out $125 for them in the 1990s using the money I made working register and stocking shelves at Drug Emporium.


These were my party shoes in 1985.  These were my dress-up shoes in 1985.

I wore a pair of white Asics wrestling shoes with black stripes my freshman year of college.

I told my mom everyone was wearing them.

No one was wearing them.

Except for me.

And the wrestling team.

There were others:

A pair of white Asics high-tops with red stripes.  They were a half-size too small, which meant my toes pushed into the end of these exquisite high-tops every time I wore them.  My toes are curling as I type this.  But, god, they were cool.


Everybody had a pair of these.

Reebok classic high-tops with velcro straps.

Bright white Nike tennis shoes (shoes meant to play tennis in) with light blue swooshes.

Black Nike sneakers with white swooshes like a referee would wear.

I don’t associate these shoes with specific memories.  Instead, they remind me of periods of my life.

Today, I can pretty much afford to buy whatever sneakers I want.  I usually buy them from the men’s clearance rack though.  I stockpile them and break out a new pair as needed.  I’m not so fussy anymore.  Sometimes I’ll splurge, but what really turns me on is a good bargain.

I look through the sports store catalogs in the Sunday paper as if they are porn magazines.


Enough said.

“Look at these,” I say to W.

“Sweet,” she responds.

She knows not to call them “cute.”

We’ve been over that.

My tastes have changed over the years.

I’m more fond of Adidas these days.  I wore a pair of gray suede Adidas Neo shoes for most of the summer.

I’ve learned that New Balance might not be the best looking shoes on the shelf, but they are sturdy and incredibly comfortable.  If I were a sneaker, I’d probably be a New Balance.

My feet have changed, too.  I can’t wear most Nikes these days unless I find a pair in a wide.

Sneakers bring out the kid in me.  That little boy/girl somewhere inside.  Every once in a while, I’ll catch myself grinning as I work my foot into a brand new pair of checkered Vans or striped Adidas or Nikes that look like those ones I wanted back in the day.  These are the shoes, I tell myself.  The ones that will make me run faster and jump higher.

* * *

What about you?  What was your all-time favorite pair of sneakers?  What do you rock these days?

16 responses to “My name is Middle-age butch, and I am addicted to sneakers

  1. I was born with what was then called clubbed feet so I didn’t get any of those runners (sneakers are called runners up here), I grew up having to wear cowboy boots (rigid ankle support) and once in a while I rocked the hush puppies (type of shoe) , I never actually had a pair of runners until I was 17 🙂

  2. New Balance, the Subaru of sneakers. However, because I am a sucker for all things from Patagonia, I have a few pairs of hiking/casual sneakerish from them as well.

  3. I love Converse. I even have an amazing pair of Wonder Woman Chucks that my gf bought for me 🙂

  4. Oh my gosh! Yes!! I remember the first pair I dish out a ton of money on. I was in the 9th grade and I had saved all summer (mowing lawns) to buy a pair of British Knights high tops. I was the coolest on the basketball team!!
    Like you, I’m more of a wide width sneaker because my many years in the Army and working construction have caused my feet to fall and widen.
    Btw. I too had a pair of the Reebok white high tops with the Velcro at the top. Who didn’t?!?!

  5. I’m noticing a theme here: Swooshes. 😉

    I spent the years between first and fifth grade growing – much too rapidly for my mother’s comfort – into my full adult height. (Yes, I’ve been 5’6″ since I was 11 years old.) So keeping me in tennis shoes (that’s what they were called where I lived, regardless of the fact that very few people actually played tennis in them) was nigh on impossible. I never had a chance to wear them out; I outgrew each pair too fast.

    The last pair of sneakers (I bow to your verbiage 😉 ) I owned were Reeboks – white with pink swooshes, Walk for the Cure shoes. They lasted me ten years. Last year I replaced them with a pair made by Saucony. If New Balance are the Subaru of sneakers, then Saucony are the Schwinns. 😛

    Normally I forgo footwear. I prefer to pad around in bare feet, or I wear flip flops when possible. But if I have a vice where shoes are concerned, it’s cowboy boots. 🙂

  6. I don’t mean to ruin your sneaker high, but have you ever listened to the Mackemore song “Wing$” It is the ultimate sneaker song ever, and you should go listen to it now.

  7. I won’t wear pink, but after that anything goes. A neat pair of whites will get my attention though. Must be a throwback to my squash playing days 🙂

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