I’m an adult. The birthdate on my drivers’ license says so. The United States of America even pretends that my vote helps to decide who is President. I can walk into a bar and buy a beer. My company even gave me business cards! By virtually any definition available, I’m an adult. When I got my first “real” job after college I still felt like a kid wearing a big suit like David Byrne in the “Same As It Ever Was” video and fooling everyone into thinking that I had grown up. The funny thing is, that despite all the evidence to the contrary, I’ve never felt like a true adult. Unless you’re one of my regular readers, maybe you’ve never picked up on this, but I think I still have a kid brain trapped in an adult body.
That all changed two days ago when I went to buy shoes. On most days I do wear a shirt and tie to work, or if I’m really trying to look grown up, a sport coat. Do they still call them “sport coats” when it’s just a jacket that isn’t part of a matching suit? That’s what my Dad always called them and he’s been an adult for my entire life. He’s really good at it. Despite trying to look like an adult, two parts of my attire have had a hard time growing up. You know how every office has that guy with all the zany ties? That’s me. I’m that guy. I have a collection of over 100 ties, at least 75% of which have a cartoon character, work of art, or some other inane subject matter, such as a Slinky. Some people are so foolish as to believe that because I work with kids I wear the ties for the kids.
The other part of my wardrobe that has never fully grown up is my shoes. If I can get away with the khaki pants, blue oxford shirt, and white sneakers look, I do so as often as possible. On the days when I have to talk to adults and can’t get away with sneakers, my concession to adulthood has been loafers. They’re kind of adult shoes in that they’re shiny, made of leather and have small heels, but they still satisfy the kid in me because they don’t have laces and I can just slip them on like that comfortable pair of sneakers we all have that fit so well that we never bother to lace them up. A couple days ago I decided that I needed a new pair of dress shoes. After a year or two of dedicated service my loafers were finally looking kind of ratty. I went to a couple stores looking for a nice pair of loafers just like my old ones. In one store I found a pair that were similar, but just didn’t look nice enough to be worn with adult clothes. Right next to them on the shelf for a little bit more money was a nice looking pair of dress shoes with…gasp…laces! They were black and shiny with narrow, almost pointy ends. They looked like the kind of shoes sharp dressed businessmen wore. “Damn,” I thought to myself. “Those would look really good at the bottom of a nice pair of dress pants that has a crease so sharp you could cut yourself.” The shoes sleek lines would go well with a shirt and tie outfit or with a suit, if I ever bought one. “I’ll be fit for the cover of GQ,” I thought. So I bought them.
I took them home and put them on to wear around the house all evening so I could break them in. Then, the next day I wore them to work. After ten hours in my new adult shoes I had blisters. Despite their classic style and professional look, the shoes and adulthood still seem to be a poor fit for me. I wonder if I can return them both?