The invasive contagious white sneakers first appeared somewhere on rue de Monceau in the fall. Walking the little girl home from school, I noticed a pack of older girls from the collège glide past, all of them looking like they should be in high school and wearing those puffy white shoes.
They almost always came with a set of skinny jeans, usually black. As the year went on, baggy blue jeans came too. I would see them in the bars in the eastern part of the city; in a MacDo line late at night; on the trains. Quickly, like they’d been sprinkled with some kind of fairy dust, all of Paris was teeming with white sneakers.
And the stereotype is that all people wear there is black.
Long coats, a cropped turtleneck sweater, eyebrows waxes and painted into place. Those skinny jeans. Blacks socks. The sneakers. People’s stripes were chosen to match who they wanted to be; the attitudes they held like umbrellas as they brushed past each other on the street. I would see girls who could be models, made up and poised, wearing not only the sneakers but ones that had Velcro instead of laces.
The second-oldest sister got a pair of them for Christmas. I thought they had been monogrammed with her nickname, but that was just the brand. A unique-looking name was just a stand-in for the uniform of the masses. Who knew a white shoe could transcend rich and poor, the eastern and western city dwellers, and even those outside it?
The little girl got a pair in the spring. Pink ones with those Velcro fasteners. It made more sense for her. She became a little carbon copy of her sister, and the girls running around in the park. We would come home and I would take her discarded sneakers into the laundry room and wipe them up with an old cloth, scouring the dirt away so they’d stay white and new.
A little boy at her school had the sneakers and they got the same treatment. What still separates the rich and the poor is getting your sneakers cleaned at night by someone who does not wear them.
Then the babysitters started wearing them. I met my friends on the weekends and saw the gleaming new sneakers on one of them, not as nicely outfitted as the Parisians but still looking enough like one. I found myself at a store getting a generic pair of sneakers, black, cheap but not cheap. I strolled around feeling like one of them but probably was not even close.
The eldest sister never got a pair. She wore running shoes or another brand, always colorful. The trend didn’t disturb her.
I wore running shoes every morning when I jogged around Parc Monceau, before walking the little girl home, before wiping off her sneakers. They were blue and got crusted in brown dust but I didn’t wipe them off.
Now I wear them at the register and running food out to tables. Fried fish and ice cream stains taking over the blue, and no longer a trace of dust. There’s a few holes but nobody here minds. The country of fast-casual has yet to feel the craze of the white sneakers.
I poured beer and longed for the little streets and umbrellas. The long coats, the silly question of tight jeans or not.
So I caved. Hard.
I bought a pair. I ordered them all the way from France. Because being away brings an urge for authentic. They came the other day; too small. Returns are the responsibility of the buyer. Nous ne sommes pas responsables.
So I ordered another pair. From the real brand. From the Source Itself that doesn’t even ship overseas.
Then I tried to return the first pair and learned that I could almost buy another pair of sneakers for the price of sending them back.
So now, outside the land of the contagious sneakers, I have two pairs. And a pair of blue ones that took me so many places but now ensure seafood gets brought to the right people.
Do any of these things fit me?
Do any of these things make me fit?
Do any of these things make me
I guess what I mean to say is: If you’re a size 8.5 and want a pair of white sneakers, contact me.
Photos: The old routine
My life is not quite as interesting as it was last year — it’s a lot more routine. But sometimes I break it and get out a bit. Here’s a few snapshots from the last few months of some cool stuff I’ve seen.