I can’t believe you are choosing those, Ben said to Jake.
We were shoe shopping. Jake, classic in so many ways, picked bright red high tops.
Cool, I said. Chuck Taylor’s.
The sales woman, all of maybe 18 said, they have come back. Big seller now.
Mom, they are high tops, Ben corrected.
Chuck Taylor’s, I said.
Mom, Converse high tops.
I dragged him over to the sample shoe as the salesperson was in the back searching for Jake’s size. I pulled him close and pointed out the label.
Oh, Ben said quietly.
Several of the parents around eyed me and smiled. We have all, clearly, been at the end of our children’s ire about something. When we get to be so clearly right? It’s like a moment of nirvana. We all soaked it up.
Jake grinned as we laced up the shoes.
I love them, Mom, he said.
Very cool, the salesperson nodded.
Jake did the obligatory run, jump and twirl through the store.
Zachary picked out an average pair of running shoes. Functional, not fancy. Black and gray.
It was Ben’s turn. We have to go to the adult part of the store for him. The boy has big feet.
Pumas, he said at first. No, Vans… no…
And he turned to the display of Chuck Taylor’s.
I want Chucks.
I witnessed fashion lingo being born. I had only referred to them as Chuck Taylor's.
What color? I asked.
He went through each pair and held them to his jeans. Green, black, navy blue, and red.
Red, he said. Red is a statement.
Yes, it is, I agreed. Meanwhile, Zachary and Jake were taking each other down between the racks of shirts on display in the store.
There was no running or jumping to see if these shoes were okay. Straight to the mirror. Careful posing.
Well? I asked, not meaning to be impatient but… I feared the shoe racks on the back wall were not capable of holding two young boys dangling from them.
You’ll have the same colored shoes as your little brother…
Once you walk out the door, that’s it…
I know. It’s a statement. I like them.
I hope tomorrow when he goes to school, excited with his bright red shoes, that his friends ooo and ahh over them. I hope it is a beginning of many fashion choices that will be embraced- a little girl can choose sparkly shoes and be patted on the head for such prowess. A boy? Gets teased and humiliated for being “girly.”
I often think misogyny is about deeply rooted homophobia. But don’t get me started.
Ben has an amazing sense of color, fabric and patterns. His bright red Chucks are the bomb.
Even if he didn’t know what they were called.