The last time I bought Converse All-Stars I was eleven. My age barely bigger than my shoe size. Black high tops, that's all I really remembered. Over two decades later, I was in a Foot Locker, looking for some new kickers, and these oddly verdant blue All-Stars sat at the center of adult sneakers that looked desperately childish. Sneakers that looked like they were made of teething rings and mobile parts. Bright orange and pink coily disasters of sneakers.
I needed new sneakers because, like everything else in my life in 2011, my sneakers were falling apart. Frayed heels. Permanent knots in the laces.
Still, I wandered around Downtown Crossing in my comfortably ruined sneakers searching for something better suited to my feet than the Converse All Stars. Six stores later, I returned to Foot Locker to buy the Chucks. The very nice lady in the referee costume informed me that you want to buy All-Stars a size smaller than your usual size, because they run big.
This is not, precisely true. The reason Converse All-Stars run a size too large is because the soles are made of onion skin and sneezes. You buy them in your normal size, and then buy support pads to put in the bottom. Otherwise, your feet constantly feel like you're walking on syringes and seashells. Like you're walking in the junkyard where Tooth Fairies dispose of the useless baby teeth they collect.
By the time I arrived at Zuzu's house, one of the many places I'd been crashing since the last time the world ended, the backs of my ankles were practically worn through to the bone.
Two weeks, and an assortment of cushiony foot pads later, I went to visit my father. I decided to test my foot endurance by walking a mile and a half round trip in the shoes with the pads, and then without the pads, and then barefoot. After nearly five miles, I came to the conclusion that I would be better off wearing two pairs of socks than these fashion accessories that Americans have been conned into believing are shoes. If only eleven year old me had written a blog about these when I was younger, I wouldn't have spent the first half of July limping like I'd just gone river dancing with Jeff Gilooly.
Last night, I put on my starting to conform to my feet All-Stars, and headed to Gayme Night. Gayme Night being an assemblage of queer friends who meet bi-weekly (which definitely calls their real sexuality into question) to drink and play board and card games.
This was to be my first night at Gayme Night, having been invited by a recent poet transplant to Boston. The night itself was a blast. Four definitely gay guys, one definitely bi girl, and a couple who may or may not be gay or bi, but one was definitely a man, and the other a woman, but it was their house, and their party. If they were, indeed, straight, they were at least the sort of people who surrounded themselves with gay people without making it a point to surround themselves with gay people. At no point did either of them fawn over our sarcasm, refer to any of us as precious, or attempt to put any of us in their purse for the next time they go shoe shopping.
After four beers, and two rum and Cokes, I noticed that the other guy who wasn't coupled had been complimenting my Apples To Apples skills more than can be considered polite or accurate. Especially as he ended up winning the game, with five exciting adjective cards like Graceful, Charming, Worldly, Intense, and Nerdy, while I came in dead last, winning only one round. The adjective that I won was Busty.
As the game neared its inevitable conclusion, the future game winner began to casually mention how he loves hairy guys, while alternating between looking at my arms, typing things on to his phone, and then showing his phone to the gay guy sitting next to him. I couldn't decide whether he was hitting on me, or whether he just had five drinks. Partially because I, myself, had had five drinks. And partially because less than a month before, a guy had fallen asleep in my arms after an amazing date, and amazing sex, and told me he thought we were perfect for each other. Then he gave me a morning blowjob, sent me an e-mail about what a great time he had, and stopped returning my calls and texts.
So, instead of flirting or Stereotype Forbid, actually saying "Hey, I think you're smart, and attractive, and funny, and I would like to spend a long time pressing various parts of our bodies together.", I shook his hand, and left.
While we were playing, I was fielding texts from an old high school friend who needed some relationship advice. And, as soon as I was out the door, I decided to listen to her predicament, so I could forget about mine.
It was nearing midnight. I had the choice between a ten minute or so walk to the nearest T, or thirty minutes or so back to the place I was staying in Cambridge. I decided to walk all the way, and invested myself in the phone call.
According to my phone, the call lasted one hour and three minutes. At which point, I looked up and had absolutely no idea where I was. I saw a street sign that said Broadway, and figured, I (like many very gay scripts) used to live just off Broadway a few years ago, and I could easily get from any point on Broadway to get back to Cambridge by taking a right and walking to either Mass Ave or Somerville Ave, depending on whether I was on Broadway in Cambridge or Broadway in Somerville. But while all of my surroundings looked sort of familiar, none of them looked actually familiar. Oh sure, there was a laundromat. Hey, there's a liquor store. A chain pizza place I ordered from that had locations in Cambridge, Somerville, and a few other places that didn't help me determine my location.
I decide to take a right on a side street, because, regardless of which Broadway I'm on, taking a right will take me in the proper direction. Unless, of course, I took a wrong turn directly out of the house, and am in neither Cambridge nor Somerville.
It wasn't long before I saw a sign welcoming to Winchester.
I've lived in Boston for over ten years now. I had never even HEARD of Winchester, let alone been there on purpose. This was. This was bad. It was at this point that I noticed that my backpack, which was filled with formerly blank books, and my computer, and an assortment of other heavy books was starting to chafe my shoulders. And my shoes. My goddamned feet.
In front of me was a rotary. The most hellacious of all traffic inventions. A paved crop circle whose usage laws vary from state to state. The one useful thing about them is that most of them have to be marked very well with bright green signs directing you which exit to take. Such was not the case with this one.
The road I came from had a bank on one side of the street, and a restaurant with a very distinct retro font. I took a mental snapshot, checked my phone to see what time it was, wished I hadn't, and made my way toward what appeared to be either a small lake or a bay. The perfect place to look in the distance and see how far I was from the city.
I could not see the city in the distance. Thus, I figured, I was facing the wrong way. I was not taking into account that, technically, there is not just one wrong way to face, but a nearly an infinite amount of ways. In fact, there was really only one direction to look in that would be correct, so all I'd proved was that I was currently walking the wrong way. It did not tell me which other way was right. Still, I walked back to the rotary, and couldn't find Broadway. I saw the bank, and the restaurant with the odd font, but no Broadway. I looked all the way down in each direction until I saw another rotary.
Emily's house is in Arlington, not too far from two rotaries. Arlington, I guessed, was near Winchester. It's at this point that I realized that I had walked an hour and a half in the completely wrong direction. Still, now that I knew where I was, I could walk toward Mass Ave, and either catch a late bus or a cab back to the house. So I walked, and I walked, and I walked. None of the landmarks I was expecting were popping up. I figured maybe I'd gone the wrong way, so I walked back to Rotary #1. Bank, check. Weird font, check. I walked back to Rotary #2. Bank, check. Weird font, check. What the fuck? The names of the restaurants were different, but that was it. I walked back. I walked forth. I backed. I forthed. I...completely lost track of which rotary was #1, and which was #2.
A bus approached. I rushed toward one of the oddly shaped Bus Stop signs and waited to find out which bus line it is, and where it's headed. Thinking I could either hop on it, or else realize it's going in the wrong direction, cross the street, and wait for a bus going the other way.
Alas, it was the dreaded Out Of Service bus. The most popular line in the Boston area. In fact, it's the only line that runs between 1:30 AM and 5: AM. And it was, of course, well after 1:30. I looked up at the bus sign, it said Lechemere and Davis. I wasn't sure which one was closer to where I was currently standing (since I was no longer sure I was in Arlington, and not some sort of netherworld that had cropped up in the last few weeks), but I do know how to get to Cambridge from both those places, so I began walking. Well, to be exact, I began limping. Possibly lurching. Why Chuck Taylor decided to install a vegetable peeler on the inside heel of his sneakers, and why he designed an apple corer into the soles of his shoes is beyond me.
Around Fuck No O'Clock, I reached Davis Square, which is about a four minute walk from the house where I'd left Gayme Night behind, four previous hours ago. I grabbed a cab to Central Square. I got out at the CVS to buy some Hangover Prevention Juice, and then began to walk to the couch I'd been sleeping on off and on for the six months since I'd moved out of my terrible apartment.
I was about a block away when a date rape of Frat Rats stopped in the middle of the road, and pointed ever so slightly behind me. "WOLVERINE!!!!!"
"Look the fuck out, it's a WOLVERINE!!!!"
Central Square in Cambridge is known for many things: homeless people, rats, buses, urine, poetry, a wide variety of perfectly mediocre cuisine, expensive housing. It is not known for its dangerous animal population (the rats are nice enough). Still, I slowly turned and looked over my shou--
It was at that point that I realized, he wasn't pointing behind me, but, in fact, pointing to my shirt, a bright yellow t-shirt with a picture of...Wolverine on it.
Kimberly Hyphen-Surname was still awake when I let myself into her apartment. "You're home earlate." She said.
I gave her a not so brief rundown of my evening.
"So the lesson here is 'Always keep your eye on the present, instead of getting consumed by phone calls from your past?'"
There's no lesson here. Every road is traveled the appropriate amount. Perspectives, like grammar, be what they be.
I chugged a can of Watermelon Fruit Punch, took off my horrible shoes, and my wonderful shirt.
"Seven more days to the end of the world." Kimberly Hyphen-Surname said. Smiling.
Oh, right. Fuck.