Bitter Bendsetter

My first track shoes.

The first pair I was stuck with.

There was the one time. So many years ago. I was on the track team in seventh grade and I needed some shoes. My mom took me to Payless to get a cheap pair. They were bright white and very uncomfortable. Everyone saw them. They couldn’t really miss them. I wore them for a few days and just couldn’t anymore. I couldn’t be the guy that only had five shirts and shoes that were so white they could have been part of this year’s Oscars. Everyone else’s were grey and blue and green. I couldn’t be the guy that was so preoccupied with the stupid white shoes that I couldn’t even concentrate on track. I begged my mom to let me get a new pair. Finally, not being a whiny brat paid off when I finally whined about something. Maybe there is something to being a squeaky wheel.

We went to the Foot Locker. I immediately saw the pair I wanted. They were not generic and white. There was a swoosh on the side. They were red. And best of all, below the soul of the foot, there was a cut out with a clear plastic window revealing a revolutionary idea. Air. In shoes. You could actually see within the shoe there was air. No other shoe had ever done such a thing. Other shoes probably hid toxic fumes or sludge or whatever, but these shoes, they were transparent before transparency was a thing. The air made you faster, it made you sleeker, and when you ran on them, it showed exactly how the air made you faster than anyone else.

So light they even floated in the air when not on your feet.

They even came with angelic voices singing when they floated in the air.

The best part? Even though they were an unheard of $75 at the time, my mother said she would buy them for me. Made me promise to do this and do that, and I promised who knows what. All I knew is that I would finally not be the guy that wore the crappy white shoes. I didn’t wear them to school the next day, no. I put them in my track bag. Then, when track finally came, I pulled those shoes endowed with the power of the Gods and Nike out of my bag. I laced them up, pushed down on the cushion of air, and was immediately mobbed by my fellow co-runners. “Whoa, where did you get those? How does it feel to run on air? What happens when you walk? What is the bubble made of? How did you become so much cooler than us overnight?”

The track coach even got a glance of them. “Cool shoes,” he said, before he yelled at everyone to get out there and start running laps. I stood up straighter than I ever had. I walked with the confidence of an action hero with explosions behind them. I was the most popular person in school. If it was 2016, people would have been Hashtagging the Instagram out of my feet, tweeting the Facebook out of the air in my soul(es) and I would have been the top trend of the entire day. #Walkingonair would have appeared with picture of me walking on the wings on angels as I approached the track. I was faster than I had ever been, more comfortable and the envy of the whole team and school. I was THE Big Man on Campus that day.

Walking into track.

Walking into track.

All night I dreamed of the hottest girls in school following behind me, hoping that they could just get a glimpse of me and my shoes. The next day, I brought my shoes, expecting a mob. All others would bow down, and ask the king more questions. “What can we do to be worthy of the window of air in our shoes? If we cut the side out of our shoes, can we be awesome like you?  Or will only having your shoes make us cool like you? Can the school newspaper get a picture with you and your shoes? How much easier is math now that you have those shoes?”

“Peasants be gone. I have school to attend. If you want to see the shoes, you will have to wait until after school. But bring your cameras, and maybe, just maybe you can get a glimpse…And by the way ladies, here’s my locker number.”

School finally ended. I got my crown and scepter and my cape and of course, my famous shoes and I entered the locker room, and braced myself for the cameras and the crowds and the roars of envy.

There was noise alright. “Whoa…cool shoes. They have air in them.”

“Yes, I know. Let me tell you all about them.”

“No, I mean Trent’s shoes. And they are BLUE.”

Trent's are royal blue.

Trent’s are royal blue.

And just like that, my first and last reign as the king of the trends was over.

Welcome back to peasantry, Bitter Ben.


Bitter Bensetter Ben


73 thoughts on “Bitter Bendsetter

  1. At least you had that one day of fame! I never had a single second 😦
    I also never had shoes with air in them, come to think of it… That’s probably where I went wrong.


  2. Hilarious!!! I remember wanting a pair of parachute pants so bad….funny because I got them in my Easter basket in 1985. Coolest Easter bunny ever 🐰

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My own 15 minutes of high school fame was more like 15 seconds… one of my pencil drawings won a prize in an art show. Of course, some high and mighty cheerleader had to spoil it, like, “Who cares about art, anyhow?” My first really “cool” shoes were a pair of powder blue Nike Cortez. They didn’t have air in the soles, but I swear my feet hovered above the ground whenever I wore them. These days, I’m into comfort… goodbye, Nike. Hello Birkenstock. I have a pair for every season. Lots of styles for guys too. I could see you in a pair of MAN-DALS, Ben!

    Liked by 1 person

    • As my wife always says about me, I’m so very predictable. I wear sandals pretty much all hours that I’m not working (that I leave the house). This includes winter. I have the kind you can slip on and they are the best. Other shoes can pretty much collect dust for all I care.


  4. 1st, i’m bitter (uv coars) azz i had a reel clever comment but 4-gawt while scootinizing prior kaw-mintz. and i’m bitter when i see a coupla guise in the locker room PUMPING UP their sk8’s !
    and, yess, yore reign wuzz short. i too have had reigns so short they didn’t even have time to begin.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ohhh Payless. I rocked many a pair of Payless shoes in my young days. I remember getting a pair of the fake Adidas ones. You know, the ones with two stripes instead of three? Yeah, I wasn’t the most popular kid in school. Lol.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Same! We didn’t have much growing up. My parents always made sure we had a roof over our head, full bellies, and clothes on our back/shoes on our feet. We just had to shop a little cheaper than most. I wasn’t wearing Versace or Yeezys. But when I got my first pair of Nikes I was on Cloud Nine!


  6. I went to Catholic school, where we had to wear uniforms. Our only status came from what shoes we wore. And I was one of the peasants, and the rich kids would diss me about my shoes. I got my first pair of Nikes in high school for PE, and they were stolen out of my locker. My mom got me the cheap payless-style shoes (although I’m sure mine came from Kmart). I know your pain, man.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Trends are definitely fleeting. They’re so fleeting, in fact, that when I received all the cool hand-me-down Hypercolor shirts, bright neon tees, and Nike Airs that were five sizes too large after my brother had yet another growth spurt, they were already soooo last season.

    Little wonder I used to envy those kids who were fortunate enough to be the only-child in their family. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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