Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Adidas Story

When I was in the ninth grade, I'd finally realized that the clothes on my back and the shoes on my feet were an important tool to show people what social group I thought I belonged in. During
my appearance-experimentation phase, I became friends with a kid my age that rode my bus, named Colin.

Colin was, for a freshman, a total stud. I, on the other hand, was not. With a nose far too large for my face, and an attitude that would have better suited someone half my age, I didn't exactly have women falling at my feet. Sure, the odd girl found my behavior charming, but they were few and far between. So I started to change and mature, using Colin as a sort of guide to do so. I'm not sure if he ever noticed, but I definitely idolized him, in the way friends do.

One week, Colin came to school with a brand new pair of black and white Adidas on.

Aside #1:
These were the shoes:
After seeing them on his feet, I wanted a pair for myself. Though initially cautious about buying a teenager a pair of all-white shoes, my mother finally agreed to take me out to get some of my own after a few days of begging and talking them up. I couldn't have been happier.

So naturally, we went to the shoe store one afternoon after school and bought a pair. I wore them home, and continued wearing them well into the evening. Before I went to bed that night, I even struggled to form a fitting outfit for my new shoes' debut, something I had never done before in my life.

The next day, I wore the fuck out of my new shoes. Compliments came in left and right, some from people I didn't know. Colin, instead of being weirded out, embraced our twin footwear and was amongst the complimentary.

The story should have ended there, but it didn't. You see, Colin didn't only ride my bus, he was also in my art class. The week I got my new shoes happened to be the same week that we were studying chalk pastels in said class. Normally this wouldn't have been a big deal, but Colin and I began talking about how plain our shoes were, and how cool it would be if we got different-colored laces for them.

Aside #2: Anyone that went to school between 1985 and 2005 knows that all kids fucking loved weird or colorful shoelaces, for some reason.

Then, unfortunately, we realized we had boxes of the perfect shoelace-coloring devices sitting on the table in front of us. With 15 minutes left in class, I quickly untied and removed my laces and put them on the table in front of us. Deciding to go with a multicolored effect rather than one single color, we each took one and went to work.

A few minutes later, we finished. Streaked with every color in the 24-pastel box, we both agreed that they looked awesome.

Aside #3: They looked awful. Seriously. Like someone had eaten Froot Loops, a rainbow, and a gay person before throwing up on them.

So I laced my shoes back up, and was on my way. Art class was during the latter half of the day, so I didn't have much longer before I went home. But in those few hours between coloring my shoelaces and going home, something terrible was happening to the tongues of my shoes.

You see, when Colin and I were discussing our coloring project, we reasoned that if it looked bad, I'd just go home and wash the laces. No harm, no foul. But the 14 year-old me didn't realize that the treated leather that they used for the outer sole of my shoes was porous, meaning that every single rogue, powdery molecule of the chalk pastels that we'd used had seeped deep into said pores, dying the material permanently. I tried everything to remove it: toothbrushes, soap, putting them in the laundry, and plenty of other things. But nothing worked. They were ruined forever.

I don't think I need to describe how angry my parents were. Let's just say that if "being sent to bed without dinner" was actually still considered a punishment, I would have been sent to bed without dinner. As it stood, I was grounded for a indeterminate amount of time, and had to pay my parents back for the money they'd spent on my shoes by doing tons of chores around the house.

For some reason, I thought this was the biggest travesty that the world had ever seen. So that night, I hatched a plan. Swiping a few sheets of printer paper from my stepdad's office, I decided to start a petition, rallying against my parents' decision to ground me.

Aside #4: There was a lot of Fox News on in my house at the time. Don't ask.

For the next three days, I gathered signatures from everyone I saw at school. Of course, I told them about the situation that had led me where I was, and every single peer sided with me unquestionably. After around signature #100, I started to get cocky, and began asking teachers to sign it. In my mind, getting a single autograph from a grown adult was worth dozens, if not hundreds of teenage signatures. But none of them would agree to sign it.

Aside #5: In retrospect, this was probably wise on their part, since my parents would have likely called and complained to someone important (because that's the type of people they were).

But finally, on the third and final day of my quest, my elderly female English teacher decided that she'd take the risk, and lend her name for my cause. Even better, she told me that she was going to write my parents a note on the subject, something that both surprised and flattered me.

After I got the pages back, I saw that her letter had taken up the entire bottom half of the last page, the top having already been filled with my classmates' multicolored handwriting. Impressed with myself, I read over what she had written. Then I read it again. And again. It went something like this:

To the parents of Tyler Walters:

I'm writing you this letter to tell you that your son has been distracting other students with this petition in every class for the last three days. His other teachers and I had a meeting yesterday, and decided that if this doesn't stop, we will have no choice other than to punish him for interfering with class.

Thank you for your time,

Aside #6: I'm paraphrasing, but as far as I can remember, this is almost exactly what it said.

I started panicking. They had held a meeting? About me? Seriously? I didn't know what to do. So I did what any stupid high schooler would do: I tore off the bottom half of the sheet containing my teacher's letter, and threw it away, not wanting to throw out the entire sheet and waste the other half-page of signatures I'd worked so hard to get.

Thinking I was off the hook, I took my finished petition home, with over 150 signatures spread across three-and-a-half pieces of paper. But the instant I crossed the threshold into my house, I could sense something was awry. There was a palpable tension in the air, one that had definitely not been there that morning before I'd left. Slowly walking into the kitchen, I found my mother sitting at the dinner table, reading a magazine. She looked up, and I could tell something was wrong.

Then the yelling started. The teacher that had written that note had called my house right after she'd written it, to ensure it was actually delivered. It wasn't, of course. But the teacher had gone ahead and told my mother exactly what it had said, and then some, claiming that I was a "nuisance," had "no respect for authority" (as evident by my petition, she explained), and was a "massive distraction to (myself) and others." It was absolutely devastating.

But that wasn't the worst part. After verbally annihilating me, my mother asked me for the three-and-a-half sheets of paper that had caused so much grief. After scanning it over, she asked me about some of the stranger names that were written down. I guess that I had been so caught up in collecting signatures, that I didn't notice that a decent portion were completely made-up by the assholes I apparently went to school with. Feeling like I'd lost some great battle, I sulked up to my room to begin what felt like a long-term prison sentence.

A few years later, when we sold them in a garage sale to people that had come by to pick through our junk, my mother was forced to sell them for a price considerably lower than the one marked on the tag, only because of the multicolored smudges. I couldn't help but smile a bit as the man that walked away with them told his wife that he was sure he could get them out with some "dish soap and elbow grease." He'd learn.

No comments:

Post a Comment