Friday, June 30, 2006

One Man's Story!

Let’s be real—1999 sucked. It was 365 days of angst,
disappointment and one utterly embarrassing fiasco
after another. In a year that birthed such dismal
disasters as Sega Dreamcast, The Phantom Menace and Ron Dayne’s
Heisman trophy, we were mentally suffocated with endless stupidity—i.e.,
Bill’s stain of shame and the imaginary Y2K bug. People were so busy
stockpiling surge protectors and beef jerky for the impending digital
apocalypse that they forgot about their children. Consequently, an entire
generation of kids was raised by Pokémon.

Needless to say, our sweet land of liberty was in need of a suitable savior.
Like manna from heaven, enter the Royal Blue XIV. Far cooler than Pikachu,
these kicks were nastier than a booger in a biscuit and it was love at first
sight. Sure they were lowtops, and I know they weren’t the most popular
colorway of that style, but the Royal Jordan XIV was one very important
thing: It was the first pair of Jordans I could afford.

This was June 1999—two years before I became a sneaker O.G.
and sold my sole to the athletic footwear industry.
Before the million-dollar ad campaigns and marketing schemes,
I too was just a casual consumer. Content inconformity,
I didn’t know Jordan from Jordache and, even worse, I didn’t care...
Okay, I lied. Of course I cared but I was broke! With haphazard
success, I’d wear whatever brand of shoes fit into my paltry
budget and hope I didn’t get roasted at school.

Wednesday, June 23, 1999, that all changed. I saved some bread from my
summer internship and bought the XIVs after work. I had heard the sordid
stories of mall mayhem that accompanied many Jordan releases, so I was a
little apprehensive when I walked into Foot Locker. Remember, this was the
year that gave us Ricky freakin’ Martin, so I had to expect the worst.

The good news was they had my size left—the bad news was they had
everybody’s size ‘cause nobody else bought the darn things! Unfazed, I
resigned myself to ransacking every store I could in search of gear that
would match the cobalt kicks. After all was said and done, I ended up with a
L.A. Dodgers hat, a Hilfiger polo, a Michigan jersey and a FUBU shirt—all
blue, of course. To top it all off I got a new pair of Mecca blue jeans and
called it a day.

Only in 1999 could a man’s quest for status and fame culminate in him being
happily transformed into a 6’4” superfly Smurf. I told you 1999 sucked!
Lucky for me I’m a big-picture kind of guy. The XIV was my gateway drug; In
a year when lame reigned supreme, the Jordan XIV was my divine precursor
into the fellowship of the sneaker fiends.

The XIV was my Precious, and just like Sméagol I’m a changed man. I recite
launch dates like scriptures and reap the fruits of my corporate discount
plentifully. I can’t remember all of my shoes, let alone fit them in my
closet. I get dressed from the feet up and even have a few pairs that I’ve
never worn.

Six years have cruised by and I have no idea where my good ol’ XIVs are. For
all I know they’re in a landfill somewhere, decomposing with discarded La
Vida Loca CDs. And although I’ve acquired many of the other Js, every now
and then I think back on that decision to cop the kicks. I wonder what my
life would have been like if I had stuck to plan and loaned the dough to
those two Stanford guys for this “goggle” Internet company they were
starting... Oh well, who buys goggles on the Internet, anyway?

Adrian Parker
New York, New York

1 comment:

  1. funny thing is my XIV story is almost the exact same.... I ran to a Footlocker in Rochester, NY in search of the Anthracite yellow and black XIV's. Only to see that this FL didn't get them. Now me on my Xerox internship was unfazed when the sales person said another store up in Canada had the black ones. So I asked how far they were. I was told 3 hours and said thanks but no thanks, so I asked what else he had in a 14. To my surprise he pulled out a pair of the White and Red mids that were on sale since no one else wanted them and they were 4 months old at the time. So I gladly paid the $60 plus 8% tax and walked out with a brand new pair of XIVs. I learned 2 things that day, it pays to have big feet every now and again, and it also helps to be flexible.


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