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“Back to School Extravaganza!!” “Store-Wide Clearance Sale: Buy 2 Pairs of Shoes and Get the third pair Half –Off!”
Every inch of the walls inside the mall were plastered with a vast array of dazzling lights and colorful propaganda. It seemed as if I was going to suddenly be attacked by fearsome mannequins, who stood idly like a platoon of glaring soldiers, anticipating their command to strike. The congested food court had an aroma of boiling flesh, pungent enough to tickle the deepest hairs of my nostrils. With each step I took, I was met with an explosion of soul shivering sounds from the speakers, and flashy formed fonts that struck me at every glimpse of the banners. I was on a mission, and was forced to disregard all of the feeble advertising attempts that came my way. My objective was to finally acquire the legendary shoe that had eluded me many times before.
As I marched on through the halls, I was distracted by an intense glow. Before long, I found myself gradually progressing toward the mystifying light. There it was, basking in its splendid wonder on an unreachable pedestal, a modern day Holy Grail. My thoughts were abruptly interrupted.
“Welcome to Footaction. How may I help you?” I was instantly confronted by the typical, cheerful greeting I received upon entering any shoe establishment.
“Yes I am looking for one shoe in particular,” I responded. “I need some brand new, fresh white Air Forces, about an eleven and a half to twelve.”
“That is big, you know what they say about guys with big feet?... Yeah, they have big shoes! I’ll go see what we have available, and I’ll be right back,” she mumbled with a wide grin that grazed both corners of her bright red cheeks.
Then she was off on the challenging quest at hand. As she disappeared momentarily, I held on to what little hope I had left of attaining those shoes. For so long they had narrowly escaped my eager, extended grasp. I was tired of wandering on journeys from store to store, just to end up in the “Land of ‘D’s:” Disappointment, Disdain, Distress, and Despair, with many other familiar pessimistic pedestrians along the way. A pale, white cloud began to materialize over my head, as my thoughts ran rampant. I envisioned myself roaming around, floating into space, traveling with my newly attained white gems.
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"Size Does Matter." 123HelpMe.com. 16 Oct 2019
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All my life, from the very first second of my existence, I have been given various “shoes.” Locked somewhere in a box, which secured a collection of memorable objects over my life, are my very first blue baby booties. They became part of who I was. Little by little, bit by bit, the very instant my first pair of shoes were placed on my pale, wrinkled feet, they gradually manipulated and guided me to my stereotypical roles in society. Before long, my crib was filled with gifts and toys from relatives and friends: blue rattlers, bouncy blue balls, a blue stroller, blue teether, blue squeezable cars that squealed loudly at the slightest touch… (It makes me wonder why my favorite color is blue?) The baby booties served as a protocol for what toys I was to receive, and how everyone was to perceive me.
My path of life was promptly set in motion. As I got older, the “booties were, eventually, replaced by the fashionable L.A. Gears, which flashed bright red lights with every stride. I can recall walking blissfully in my brand new pair of shoes, tugging at my kindergarten teacher’s green knit sweater sleeve, while begging for her opinion.
“Those are some amazing shoes. Do they give you special powers, so you could be a strong young man when you grow up?” she exclaimed, while handing me two toys, and said, “Now go enjoy your free time. Why don’t you go over there, and play with these, okay?”
I sat there in my little corner, carrying on with my daily routine, calmly and peacefully playing with my Big Red, Tonka Fire Truck, or my G.I. Joes that were armed with pathetic plastic parachutes and futile weaponry. I found myself wondering, how she knew that I would love playing with the truck and soldiers. “Did my shoes really have the powers to turn me into a strong man?” I was sure I knew what it took to be a valued “man” in society. I convinced myself that I wanted to be a heroic fireman and police officer, rescuing and aiding innocent victims, or had the profound desires of defending my country in the armed forces, and was willing to die if the situation summoned me to defend it. I would be the ultimate warrior that would not cease battling the enemies and evildoers until my mission of world peace and happiness was accomplished. For a while, I thought I had it all figured out, because that was my definition of a strong young man. I would soon find out that life is not as simple as it seemed. Everyone does not have the same size, or even the same shoe; I would have to, eventually, find what would fit me.
For my eleventh birthday, I was woken up at the crack of dawn, continuing our long-lasting family tradition; the birthday person would be greeted by the family in the early morning hours to the tune of “Happy Birthday!” I was so full of anticipation for my much-awaited annual gift distribution. To my disbelief, I was given a big black box with a pair of the most peculiar shoes I have ever seen. I must admit I was, to say the least, disappointed at the initial sight of my unusual endowment.
“What are the shoes for?” I asked.
“Well, those are your new marching band shoes,” my mother responded, with a smile.
“Now see what’s in the box, if you have anymore questions.”
I opened the box to uncover a polished fourteen-karat gold trumpet, glimmering like newly discovered pirate’s treasure. I considered it fool’s gold, because it was not what I had primarily desired, but for some odd reason it appealed to me. The very moment that I picked up the precious instrument, I felt an immediate bond that ignited a flame of enthusiasm inside of me. The flame burned brightly throughout the three months needed to conquer many obstacles on my path from third trumpet (beginner), to first trumpet (one of three lead trumpet players) in my middle school’s marching band. I wore my band shoes proudly, everywhere I went. Then one day, my beacon of light became nothing more than a symbol of rejection as the school bully tripped me and called me a “band geek” while laughing and pointing at my “weird” shoes. The title seemed to somehow stick in everyone’s mind, and that became who I was all through my Pembrooke Pines Middle years. I was officially inducted into the Band Geek Society. At times I question what the case would be if I had never accepted the trumpet, or more importantly, if I was never given a trumpet by my parents. Was I born with an innate ability in music, or did those “shoes” that were handed to me just happen to be my size? Although, I was very much accepted in my new social setting, the feeling of being incomplete remained. The search for my true identity still lingered in the pit of my soul.
Soon, I found myself with a football in my right hand and the new Nike Air Veers football cleats on both feet. I was no longer the chubby “band geek” who got picked on, but the football jock who was to be feared, but also loved by everyone. How did this morphology occur? The answer is clear as a crystal stream. The summer before my freshman year of high school I was unexpectedly hit with a growth spurt and increased in size. I attacked the gym like an enraged animal locked in a cage for weeks that was finally set free. Working out and playing football became not only a passion, but also an obsession. I was determined to never be the “geek” again. It felt nice to be the center of attention in most rooms I walked into, or to be recognized by the girls, who previously considered me invisible. Everyone wanted to be around me, the sport “jock,” until I was kicked off the team for not showing up at practices, and was forced to give up my cleats and pads. All of a sudden, in the eyes of most I was somebody else. I was forced to fend for a new identity; I did not know who I was without my cleats.
Throughout middle school and high school my prior views of my identity were challenged again and again causing more conflict. As most teenagers can attest to, image is everything. In public I wore my Timberland boots or my Nikes, but when I was home from a long day, I was eager to get rid of my heavy dress shoes, and slip into my comfortable Ninja Turtle slippers. It was a clash between my views from home and my new analytic surroundings. Language was the first to go. Language is one of the most powerful and influential tools that any human being can possess. My peers can steal credit for shaping my grammatical and language usage when I spoke to them. I was raised in a home that stressed the use of proper grammar and pronunciations, but the moment I was introduced to the world of adolescence and friends, my speech was instantly changed. I was often scrutinized for my correct use of language rules, syntax, and sentence structure; I was wrongfully accused of speaking like a “white person,” which fit perfectly into the stereotypes that society created. I would alter the way I spoke in my school setting until it unintentionally became part of my dialogue. To this day, I instinctively adjust my language to my environment. The same can be said for many other behaviors and aspects of my daily existence. I routinely carry around multiple pairs of “shoes” that were given to me and wear each one fittingly.
Shoes, Shoes, Shoes, and more Shoes! It seems as if everywhere I turn someone is offering me a different “shoe,” in an attempt to express how I should live my life. The same means in which I was confronted by the banners and advertisement in the mall, I am constantly bombarded with everyone’s personal interpretations of how my life should be. Whether it is through the media, by means of television, movies, books, or by way of my parents imposing their wishes and desires for my present life or future careers and endeavors, I am obliged to put on the shoes that come my way. I may live my whole life in pursuit of the right shoe: career, wife, school, personality, social status, but it all becomes pointless if they are the wrong size, and if they do not fit who I am. My mother always told me, “If the shoe fits wear it.” One tiny detail she always left out was that “If it doesn’t fit, remember to save the receipt.” I am the dictator in the democracy of my being; in the end, I have the final say in the shoes I choose.