7th Grade Gym Class & My Pro Wings
I wasn't much for fashion back in mid 80's. I was born in 72, so by the time the 7th grade rolled around, parachute pants and leg warmers were in full swing. I had just made the transition from grade school to junior high (6th grade was still grade school back then in the Midwest), and almost overnight, I had to start worrying about the clothes on my back and the shoes on my feet. It would seem that, and pardon the purposeful alliteration, that puberty promotes posturing. It turned out, that although my shoes fit my feet, they didn’t fit the bill.
Financially, things had changed significantly for my family over the previous year. My dad, the primary breadwinner of the family, left his high-stress career to become self-employed, which never really panned out; so extra money to appease the fashion Nazis was scarce. Couple that with the fact that my parents were never ones to splurge on shoes, and you can see why my brand new Pro-Wings high-tops from K-Mart didn’t make a big splash in gym class. For those of you who don’t know what Pro-Wings are, you can think of them like the Ford Pinto of shoes (compared to a pair of Cadillac shoes like the Nike Air Jordans). Just like a Pinto, they would get from point A to point B okay, but without any style.
Needless to say, we did not own a Cadillac. We were more like an old, used AMC Eagle type of family. In gym, we all had to wear khaki shorts and white t-shirts with our names written on them in black marker. Because cruelty must find a way, shoes quickly became the target, especially in the ethnically diverse school I attended. So after about a solid week of being made fun of in gym for having un-cool shoes, I began devising a plan on how I could convince my parents that my new Pro-Wings were not going to work out, even though they worked very well as Pintos.
I began making mental notes about the shoes on the feet of my fellow gym-mates that eluded ridicule: BK’s, Converse, Adidas, Nike, Avia, Airwalk, Reeboks, and …Puma. What I found was that Puma, a favorite brand of soccer players, was priced about the same as the Pro Wings. And, since I was also a Soccer player, I knew I could convince my parents that I needed some new soccer shoes. I would just be ready to play soccer…all the time. And man they were uncomfortable compared to those Pro Wings. However, literally overnight, nobody ever made fun of my shoes again. I dodged that 7th grade bullet, only to find the barrel pointed at me for another reason just days later: my new parachute pants. I will save that story for another blog post.