A Small Cloud in the Sky

I was sixteen years old and all I wanted was a pair of Air Jordans. A few of the cool older guys at my high school had them and I used to covet those shoes. This is wintry New England where the dominant style was L.L. Bean. These older dudes used to wear them nonchalantly, untied. These were the Jordan 4s, all industrial mesh and splattered plastic. I wanted them so badly.

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Michael Jordan was unquestionably the most dominant athlete on the planet. Many rooms were adorned with the poster of him flying towards the foul line with an astonished crowd behind him. If these shoes carried even a hint of Jordan’s unfathomable swagger, then they were worth whatever they charged for them. How can you price attitude?

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The problem was neither my mother nor myself had enough money to afford any Air Jordans. I decided on a plan, I would need to convince my grandmother that the Air Jordans were strictly athletic equipment and I needed them to play sports well. When presented with the idea, my grandmother was suspicious. She thought that was a lot of money for sneakers. I persisted. I became an expert on ankle support and plastic compression. Still this was an uphill climb as I did not actually play basketball. I was hoping the limited indoor practices in both football and lacrosse would be reason enough. For good measure I also joined the club basketball team. After a campaign that lasted over a year, I finally got my Air Jordan 6s.

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My dreams had been realized! These shoes were so cool. These are the shoes Darth Vader would wear if he were in White Man Can’t Jump. I was happy but it had taken me so long to finally get these shoes that I feared ruining them too fast. I certainly couldn’t saunter through slush puddles with the laces untied. The black Durabuck of this version, while fearsome, was very scuffable.

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For the next ten years these Air Jordans were used exclusively for indoor lacrosse and football practice and the basketball court. They made appearances on courts from Boston to Puerto Rico and Los Angeles. One time, years later, my grandmother came to visit and one of her first questions was about the whereabouts of my Air Jordans, as I did not have them on at the time. I told her that I was going to wear them but earlier in the day I had seen a small cloud in the sky and I was afraid to wear them because it might rain.

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