A few days ago I was driving along “the scenic route” to get home—windows up, tuned out to everything but the sound of some new Kelly Clarkson on the radio—when I saw a pair of shoes on a telephone wire. Normal enough, until I noticed the seven other pairs on the same wire, all different colors, different styles, yet all marked with the little star on the side that tells the world “I am Converse.” Well, the third pair down, black hi-tops with flames down the side, was more “I am Converse, hear me roar!” while the sixth pair, the pastel bubble-design, was more “I’m Converse, nice to meet you.” Nevertheless, they were all Converse.
Converse is remarkable because it’s not gender specific like the high-heel, location-specific like the flip-flop, or personality-specific like a tennis shoe. From my home-and-garden television mom (pink-and-white striped low tops) to my tattooed, drummer-in-a-rock-band uncle (black hi-tops with white skulls), Converse is worn by people from all walks of life (pun intended). What better than a Converse sneaker to show a rare unity and acceptance that runs the gamut of the population? If only everyone could lace up someone else’s “chucks” for a day, feel someone else’s life through their soles, and be able to see that there are plenty of ways to wear a pair of Converse, just like there are countless opinions on life, religion, and ethics.
I love to see connections made between people simply because one spots the iconic star on the side on the other’s shoe. I could almost imagine pair number four on that telephone wire, an original pair of red basketball chucks, on a six-foot tall man, bending over to hear a secret whispered from a little girl on the tiptoes of her sky-blue low-tops (number two). Converse doesn’t just represent diversity, but also the creativity and open-mindedness that go along with embracing diversity. Moreover, any wearer of Converse knows that “Thou shalt not insult thy neighbor’s converse.” Even if the “gothic” teenager in super-high dark purple converse (number five on the wire) doesn’t quite understand the taste of the “preppy” teenager in light pink low-tops with lavender stars (number one), there is still a brotherhood (or sisterhood) associated with wearing chucks. Besides, whether you wear your pair with a cute summer dress or a leather jacket with rhinestones, it’s up to you how you portray your Converse, your style, and you.
I believe in the unity, creativity, and open-mindedness that we often forget when encountering someone who does something in a way that we’re simply not used to. Converse is not just a shoe, it’s an icon. It ties even the most disparate people into a cultural knot, while also allowing for personal expression. As for me? I wear something like pair number 7 on the wire: a pair of plain navy blue low-tops with a little smiley face penciled in on the white of the toe.