BE•REN•MAN

Sole Searching

Posted in Fashion by Chris on February 2, 2010
I apologize to both of my loyal readers for the lack of updates- the holiday season combined with a total loss of ambition drove me to a stagnant state.  All the posts that I had hidden away in my cache of material is no longer relevant nor interesting enough to go through and post, so today I start anew with fresh new material. Actually, I come to you today with an adventure…The background story comes first.
The Jordan XI is considered as the holy grail of sneakers. Nike’s retro release of the original colorway in 2001 drew crowds to retailer’s doors in a similar way that you’d find Black Friday shoppers lined up on the day after Thanksgiving.  Kids of all ages (I use the term ‘kids’ loosely) lined up to pick up the shoe that MJ won his 4th championship in.  December 13, 2009 was marked for AJXI redux, the return of the Space Jams. As the reference to Space Jam may infer, the Space Jam Jordans were the sneakers that Michael Jordan wore in the movie in which he starred. The all black mesh upper, with black patent leather, paired with a white midsole, and clear outsole Jordans were never released as a retro shoe until 12.23.09.
Being a moderate sneaker enthusiast, I knew I had to get my hands on a pair. I called Eastbay ahead of time to find out when the shoe would go on sale. I figured I had it made, I mean, how hard would it be to get my hands on a basketball shoe?  As midnight approached on Dec 12th, I hastily picked up my office telephone (I was at work trying to scoop some Jordans, don’t ask me why) and dialed the toll-free hotline 30 minutes before the shoe went on sale. Busy. I redialed. Busy again.  I dialed about 35 times in a 5 minute span, and all 35 times I heard the sound of rejection. Concurrently, I tried the online route.  Username- check. Password- denied. Dammit, I always forget it. Take 2. Username- check. Password- check– great success. As I logged in- BOOM- weekly server maintenance.  On the night the Space Jams come out?!  What the?…  In a fervor of panic I dropped everything and bursted out of my office- I realized there was a Foot Locker 10 minutes away, and there had to be a line forming. I hopped in my whip, and hit the gas and steered myself to the local mall. Minutes later, I arrived. I looked at the clock- beautiful, it was still before midnight. I pulled a powerslide, while simultaneously pulling the key out of the ignition and jumping out of the car. As I rolled to a stop, the car slid between the white lines. Nice! One obstacle down. Today was my day.  I was confident that the Space Jams would be in my arms soon. I sprinted to the gateway that was enslaving my J’s and was ready to claw my hands to the bone pry open the doors. I gave the handle a slight tug to see what kind of witchcraft machinery I was up against, and as I looked down I came to the realization that the steel door surrendered like the French military in every major war. So now I knew two things resonated throughout the universe: You don’t mess with Texas and You can’t mess with my AJ destiny.  As the door shut behind me, I glared at it, degraded it, and continued on my journey of sneaker enlightenment.
I decided to take the inconspicuous approach and strolled in so that I wouldn’t draw attention to myself, since being in a mall at midnight didn’t quite feel “legal”.  Shortly thereafter, I found a small line formed in front of the Finish Line.  18 kids made it into the store ahead of me.  WTF?! Where did these little bastards get the money? So at midnight, I got in line, number 19 for  size 10 AJXI’s. As I got myself settled into a nook in between Finish Line and the adjacent American Eagle Outfitters and found myself surrounded by peddlers, trying to cash in on the
Jordan craze.  Some dude tried to push homemade Jordan T-shirts with the slogan “Sole Searching” written on them, with the outsole of the shoe pressed on below the text. As he offered me the Tee, I laughed- who would want such a nerdy shirt? And that slogan? Awful. Actually it wasn’t all bad, since I am using it as the title to today’s blog post. Oh well. All was good, and I was a mere 6 hours from owning my personal pair of Space Jams. An hour passed, and my new friends and I were getting acquainted with one another. We traded unsubstantiated rumors of how many pairs were in stock. Played “Who’s that guy that played for the Celtic’s that had that comfortable Adidas shoe?” (The answer is Antoine Walker). And speculated what it would feel like to finally get our grubby hands on the shoes. As dawn crawled closer, mall rent-a-cops came swooping down. The badge and the pepper spray enabled their egos to grow and boil over to a point where they demanded that our pow wow be relocated out in the 15 degree outdoors. We resisted. They demanded we leave. We stood strong. They threatened to call the cops. We left. Damn it. It was 3:00 and here I was shoeless and soon to be shelterless. I’m sure my mom was proud, I had officially become a vagabond.
Paul Blart and the rest of the mall cops told us that the mall would re-open at 6 so our pow-wow disbanded and filed out the doors. At 5:00 I got antsy and returned to the mall. Lines now formed on the opposite ends of the mall, and no one seemed to have an idea on which door was to open first. At 5:15 dozens more, myself included, gathered at the doors. At 5:17 a semi truck arrived with food to stock the food court with  and at 5:20 people began to run. What the hell?! From a distance I’m sure we all looked like criminals, having sprinted off from the mall doors and all. Apparently someone had found a way in, and that someone didn’t tell me. Didn’t John Doe know that me and the AJXI’s were on a date with destiny? So at this point I logically did what anyone else would do in my position: I booked it. I scrambled frantically and ran to the first door I could find. I pulled. It pulled back. Dammit, locked. I ran down some more. Tried another. Nope. And another. Rejected again. Before I knew it everyone disappeared… Wait, everyone disappeared?!?! What was I missing? I ran down a couple more doors and attempted to kick them down, no dice.  I had run halfway around the mall and still no luck.  I decided to back peddle and ran back to where I started and found nobody. I looked over my shoulder and noticed the semi truck was still there. I peered in and saw a glimmering ray of hope: the crash doors were open to the loading dock. No one was around. There wasn’t a “Do Not Enter” sign, so I said, “F-it, I’m going in.” I ran through the doors and navigated myself back to Finish Line to find a line longer than the one I was previously in. OMG. This was downright ridiculous, but I was not ready to give up. I had come so far. I was not going to be denied. A Foot Locker was a couple stores down from Finish Line, so I decided to set up shop at a new store front to form a new line. I moved over to Foot Locker as the 5th person in line.
It took some time to get re-acclimated to my new line-mates. These new guys weren’t the stand-up fellows that had established the line at the Finish Line but they would suffice. 5:45 approached and something had caught my attention- was it the midnight musk of my neighbor’s unshowered armpit? Was it the grease dripping down my other neighbor’s forehead? I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but something in the air didn’t feel quite right. As I looked up into the lights, which in my delirium resembled a blazing desert sun, I saw what appeared to be vultures circling on the floor above us. As reality set in my vision became more lucid. Our scavengers were the same rent-a-cops that kicked us out 4 hours earlier. What the hell? I thought these guys let everyone in. Why else did I spend the past 20 minutes trying to find the door that everyone ran in from? It damn sure wasn’t to work on my cardiovascular endurance.
It’s 5:55 and we were being chewed out by the mall cops, but we stayed around and tried to explain ourselves. The big homies from before specifically told us that the mall would re-open at 6, and although it wasn’t quite 6am, it was damn near it. Reason had seemed to work until a meaty uneducated dude came running up to the enforcers of our mall safety and security.  The dude (let’s call him “Dude” for the sake of simplicity) with his derriere completely hanging out of his jeans and his 2 size too small t-shirt, began yelling and pointing at mall security. Before the situation could escalate any further, the mall cops called the “I’ll arrest you” cops; and in the hierarchy of cops, those who can actually arrest you rank higher than those who cannot. We were dead in the water.
The cops had arrived at 6:10am, 10 minutes later than the Finish Line had initially promised that it would open. Finish Line was nowhere near open and every officer outside of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence was laying down the law. The police now demanded that everyone leave the premises. To make matters worse, they wouldn’t even allow us the luxury of shelter- we were to line up in the parking lot, 100 feet away from mall doors. Dude tried to reason with the popo in his inarticulate, threatening, and simple manner with no success. Shocking. However Dude was of some value. He had brought along a group of girls who were able to succeed where Dude had failed. The girls used their words and spandex pants to persuade the popo to let us wait directly outside of the doors, where walls sheltered its inhabitants from the elements. 15 minutes later and the mall manager had arrived. He parted the crowd like Moses and made a b-line for the cops. They huddled up and within a few moments broke up. An officer from the group approached the crowd outside the doors to tell us that the manager would not re-open the mall doors until 10, regardless of what the Finish Line had told its patrons. No one cheered. Some left, while others jocked for position within the line as drivers often do in Nascar races, restrictor plates and all.
As we all settled into our places in line, another officer came out. Apparently there was a change in heart, the mall manager agreed for everyone to line up indoors, outside of the store of their choice, as was originally done. This was only under condition that everyone remained non-disruptive as they re-entered. As the doors creaked open, the line morphed into a blob. Elbows were thrown to box people out from gaining entrance. Faces were pushed into the windows. Suddenly, everyone lost their damn minds and flooded the doorway. As I got through the doors, I did my best Usain Bolt impersonation and sprinted back to the Finish Line. My pants were falling down. I didn’t care. Air Jordans were on the line. I had figured only a handful of people made it through the doors before I. As the figurative and literal Finish Line came into my sights, I found a queue even longer than the previous two combined. I was again too late!!! I changed my course, performed a quick route recalculation, and navigated myself back into the Foot Locker line- drats! number 10. It was 10 minutes to 7am, and I further away from my Jordans than ever before.
The Finish Line opened its doors at 7 sharp, and as I stood across the way, I jealously stared at each person as they pranced out with their shiny new J’s. It was 7:15 and Foot Locker hadn’t opened yet. I began to wonder if my store selection was wise; it seemed like everyone that had lined up at Finish Line was getting a pair in their size. Finally at 7:30 the Foot Locker crew arrived. Someone yelped, “What sizes you got?!” as these ordinary Joes got paparazzi-grade attention. The store manager muttered, “1 of each size.” In my state of denial I asked myself what the hell that had meant. There’s no way there’s only one of each size. Who in their right mind would wait in a line for that?! My line-mates and I began whispering amongst ourselves to keep the shoe gods appeased. We listed off our shoe sizes. I heard 8. Then 9. I’m still good because I need a 10. Then I hear 10.  Eff– and it came from the front. Ultra Eff- but that’s OK, I can still wear a 10.5. Then I hear another 10. Dammit. I’m really screwed here. There’s no way I wasted my night waiting for Jordans and going home empty handed. I had lost sight of all logic.  I waited patiently in line for my turn. One in, one out. Another in, another out. Finally, I was next. Short of breath from a combination of excitement and exhaustion, I gasped “10, please.” It felt like hours passed before I heard a response. The kid working the door screamed towards the back, “Do we have a 10?” No, he didn’t. His buddy dashed my dreams. Pooped on it. Lit it on fire. Then trampled it. All done with the phrase:”No 10s”. Son of a… OK. I gathered my thoughts and asked what sizes were left. All that were left were 14s and a size 8. What in the?… With no more questions or Jordans on hand I left dejected. Moping by the Finish Line I witnessed more happy faces and came to the realization that I had indeed made the wrong choice by making a detour to Foot Locker.
I re-entered my car, put the key into the ignition, and bashed my forehead against the steering wheel. The impact invoked a moment of genius, as I realized there was a mall nearby my apartment that was sure to have no one standing by (since no one knew of its existence). I shifted my car into drive and sped home to the nearby mall. I had to make it there quick in case I was wrong. I parked my car and ran into the mall. Good news, the doors were open. I took the elevator down one floor to where both Champs Sports and Foot Locker resided and found a standing army of 2. Happy days were here again. I sat down to catch my breath and chit-chatted with my new best friends awaiting for the doors to open. We sat patiently, although no one knew what time the mall would open. The fact remained that no one else was waiting with us and that was good enough news for all of us. The clock struck 8:30 and a face approached the store. She smiled at us and said, “We didn’t get the Jordans.” We figured she was lying. Who would smile when bearing such devastating news? But she wasn’t joking.  That B. She went on to present more bad news as she revealed the the Foot Locker across the hall didn’t receive any either. But just as we did before, we were sure she was lying. So we waited. 30 minutes later and a figure from the distance bearing a referee’s uniform approached. Before we could even make out the facial characteristics of the gentleman from beyond he hollered, “We didn’t get the Jordans.” What a damning phrase. The air withdrew itself from beneath my sails and my inner child suffocated. I was dead inside. I lost 9 hours of my life and had nothing to show for it. Our small group disbanded and went our separate ways. Some continued on their journey but I went home. With this story. Awesome.
Since that dreary day, I often wonder what would have happened if I got my hands on the holy grail of all sneakers. I’ve convinced myself that I would have gone insane from the utter joy that I would have experienced. I try to take solace in having saved my sanity over shoes although from time to time, I pay a visit to what could have been by Googling “Space Jam” and scream uncontrollably, pretending that I’d gone completely insane because I had gotten my J’s.
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