My whole life I’ve been particular about certain things, like footwear.
In elementary school I lived for Field Day, a yearly mini-Olympics at our school that, with a limited number of participants and lots of events that meant you were almost guaranteed a ribbon as long as you retained basic control of your limbs. Therefore I had a probably unrealistic sense of my own athletic accomplishment, and had a collection of colored ribbons in events ranging from long jump to 50-yard dash. To gain a competitive edge I was convinced I needed better shoes. Faster shoes.
Unarmed with any knowledge about running shoes, competition footwear, or surface/traction performance ratios, I became convinced I needed some sort of cleated shoe to sweep all the events at Field Day. So I had my poor mother drag me to store after store looking for…what exactly? Soccer and football cleats were too big, and I wouldn’t be able to wear them daily. You see, a big part of winning Field Day is daily psychological domination of your competition by wearing your racing shoes IN CLASS! I know we went to at least six stores. Sometimes my mom would suggest, “How about these honey, they look fast?”
“Umm…I’m not sure about that Velcro strap. Let’s keep looking.”
To her credit, she didn’t push me out of a moving car or tell me just to buy the damn shoes and get over it. Finally I found them: white soccer shoes with black blazes on the sides and artificial turf cleats, little rubber nubs the size of pencil erasers, set in an aggressive grid in the sole. Yes. My domination of Field Day was so close I could feel those satin ribbons in my little third-grader fist.
I don’t remember what happened on Field Day. I know I was fast, and skated across the playfield grass like Apollo himself. Some kid who did [ugh!] organized sports probably won. But those shoes were worth the search. Picky? No. Discerning? Absolutely.