*I just got up from a nap. My mouth is dry and my joints feel the way they do after a night of drinking or softball. I think I am dehydrated. The reason I feel this way is because I stayed up all night in the attempt of acquiring Jordan XI Concords, as they were re-released today.
I won’t go into the mythology/urban legendism surrounding these shoes, suffice it to say they hold a special place in the hearts of anyone who cares about sneakers. Personally, I have wanted these shoes since high school. I have referred to them as “grails,” “the one that got away,” and “the only shoe I really want.” Of course all of those are examples of hyperbole. They’re all exactly true.
I spent yesterday afternoon debating whether or not I should even go to Pearlridge to give it a shot. I waffled back and forth on it. At some point, I’m positive that I sounded like Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: I’m not going…I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go. No. No. I’m going.
I finally decided to go with the following rationale: I didn’t want to say I didn’t give it a shot. It really was that simple. The honest truth is that adulthood and the increase in responsibilities had already extinguished the hope of ever really owning these shoes. As I told a couple of the people I waited in line with, I came out of retirement for the XIs. This would likely be the last time I camp out for any shoe – regardless of whether I got them or not. I’ve done the math, the Concords get released very rarely. The next time they get re-released, I’ll be closer to 40 than 30, and that’s that. Here’s the story of how I didn’t get my shoes.
8:45 PM (Thursday night): I showed up at Footaction to wait in line and found four other guys already there. I decided to stick with Footaction not for sentimental reasons (I used to work there), but for a practical one: I could actually see a line. There was a handful of people milling around Champs, but no organization. When I got there, I asked the four guys in front of me what size they wore. One of them said “Your size.” I liked that, actually. So as the time passed, more people began to line up behind me, to the point that by 10 PM, we had a list (left) of 15 people in order of arrival. Those first few hours were pretty cool, a bunch of guys talking about shoes, their past camping experiences, and that obvious nostalgia that the Concords conjure. A bunch of us had done some recon. We had a ballpark figure on the number of pairs in the mall, we were told there were 18 at Footaction, maybe the same amount at Foot Locker, and possibly double that at Champs. But I was 5th on the list. I figured that nearly assured me a pair in a size I could wear. There was one x-factor that all of us in line were afraid of, though.
11:00 PM: Security did a sweep and informed all the people in the lines in front of the three stores that we could not stay in the mall. I knew that this meant all bets were off. Being 5th in line meant nothing when there was no longer a line. Security also told the group that we had to leave the premises entirely. They said that the lot would re-open at 4:30. People got in their cars and loitered in the Toys R Us parking lot. I drove down the hill to take a power nap at my parents’ house (above, right). When I got home, my dad was still up and watching Predators. Of course this meant I would have to stay awake until its conclusion. I did. Then I retired to the extra room. I couldn’t sleep so I exchanged messages with a friend who also happened to be up. The nap would never come.
Aside: I don’t want this to go on for too long, but when they referenced Arnold and the first Predator movie, it was in the context of a character revealing the human data on Predators. She said something like “Guatemala, 1987…” She then went on about how there was only one military survivor and how he gave a detailed description of the Predator. I think wanted her to say “Los Angeles, 1997…” but I knew she wouldn’t. Even the people making Predator movies pretend that Predator 2 didn’t happen.
1:30 AM (Friday morning):I couldn’t sleep so I decided to swing by the mall for the hell of it. When I got to the entrance near Cold Stone, I saw there were a bunch of people already waiting outside the store. When I parked and got to the door, I asked one of the guys who had been standing in line at Foot Action what happened. He said the security just got tired of chasing people away.
At something like 2:30, a security member came out and made the announcement that the doors would open at 6, and it was first come, first served. Essentially, they were inciting chaos. This confirmed what I had already feared: the odds had shifted dramatically against me. Over the next few hours, more people would arrive, and the area would be more crowded. Additionally, there was another group waiting at the entrance downstairs. I considered leaving at that point, but again – the whole point was to give it a shot. At this point I started tempering my expectations. It was cold, it was late (or early, I guess), and I was tired.
5:45 AM: The security opened the doors, but held everyone back. There was a group at the top of the stairs (coming from the Longs area) being held back as well. The picture on the left is of everyone stretching out and jockeying for room before the run.
About five minutes before 6, a couple of guys ran out and chaos ensued. If Pearlridge really had the shopper’s experience at heart, they would have cued up “My Hero,” or “Hearts Afire” at 5:50 AM. I had resolved to head back to Footaction because the people in front of me were headed to Champs and Foot Locker. I ran faster than I do during softball games. I thought I was good because I could see the people in front of me heading to the other stores. But it didn’t matter – those people from the stairs had a 30-yard head start. I ended up in the low 20s in line and stepped out of line. With only 18 available pairs, it was moot anyway. My only hope – and it was slim – was that the manager would honor the list. I didn’t expect it, but it was all I had. Well, that didn’t happen. The four guys in front of me got their pairs by cutting their way to the front (something I wasn’t willing to do), which I wasn’t really upset about – they had been at the mall since 6pm the day before. Also, the whole race idea is bullshit. In retrospect, I should have just made a dash to Champs. They had the most pairs, and therefore gave me the best mathematical chance of getting a pair. And if I later found that Footaction would honor the list, then I would have been fine anyway.
You can probably tell from the overall tone of this entry that I’m not terribly upset with the way everything happened. I expected no less than everyone out for themselves. Early in the morning, one of the guys in front of me on the Footaction list told me he wasn’t worried at all. I knew what he meant. He meant that he would get his pair, naughty or nice. And really, that was the divide between us. I suppose being an asshole is not in my nature, and well, that or luck was going to end up winning those shoes… like I said, I’m not an asshole, and I was shit out of luck.
When I got home, Lynnette apologized for the way things worked out. I told her it was cool, that my life was no different than it was the day before. “That’s true,” she said. They wouldn’t have made my life demonstratively better. And I guess that’s the point of this whole thing anyway. In my heart, I knew I couldn’t afford the shoes. I can’t pay $80 for shoes without cringing. $180 would have made me throw up all over myself (but not on the XIs). I had long given up on these shoes. I was chasing the ghost of a dream. In fact, when my co-worked brought up the idea of waiting for them, I told him that I likely couldn’t because my wife worked and I’d be responsible for our daughter. Well, my wife took today off, and that allowed me to give it a try. Those are the two things I will take away from this experience:
1. Some dreams will die unrealized, but the peace of mind that is the result of an honest attempt is consolation.
2. I am 31. I have a child, wife, mortgage, and a bunch of debt. Concords would have shit all over my personal balance sheet. If I kept one. Still…
I am married to the kind of woman who understands that there are things I am passionate about, things that I will have to follow to their illogical conclusion, things that should have died long ago and yet still remain. She would never say it to me this way, and I may be mistaken, but I think Lynnette was so supportive of my effort last night because she wanted me to put the XIs to bed, either way. I will always love her for this.