Untuck Your Shirt

Going on a bike ride on a hot summer day is always a reminder of the past. This time, while leaving my house, I was reminded of a particular bike ride I went on with my friends when I was in around 5th or 6th grade. It was either a summer day or a random weekend towards the beginning of the school year; when it’s still hot in September.

I was in my house, probably doing nothing when all of a sudden there was a knock at my door (or maybe I heard my name being called from outside).  A group of my friends had assembled outside my house on their bikes and wanted to know if I wanted to go on a bike ride with them. I asked my parents if this was ok; I’d never gone out on a ride with just my friends before, I usually went with my dad. “Sure,” they obliged and I ran out back to grab my bike from out of the shed.

I brought my bike around front and was all ready to go. But, right before we took off, my friend John Goodhue said to me, “Untuck your shirt.” My dad had always instilled in me a neat appearance. I always combed my hair dressed in decent clothes, and looked like a young professional. This was the first time I was told to do something other than what my parents wanted me to do. It was the first time the notion of not following their commands was something I had considered doing. Not that untucking your shirt is a giant act of rebellion, but it was the first time this clean cut “goodie two shoes” had ever done something “defiant.” (My dad recently told me that Goodie’s a cop in my home town now; who’d have thought?)

I was always amazed that I had fallen into this group of friends. It seemed like, at the time, they were the “cool kids” (untucked shirts and what not) and amazingly they had allowed me to latch on to the outer edge of their circle. I was invited to their birthday parties, trips to Laser Quest, and even sleepovers.

Another revelation came when I was in 6th grade. As was the case with biking, I had discovered skateboarding. Everyday after school when the weather was warm I would walk home, grab my skateboard and skate back to the school to meet up with my friends. It must never have occurred to me to bring my skateboard to school and keep it in my locker so I wouldn’t have to go back and forth all of the time. We would meet up and skate around town, typically ending up at the Coliseum, a nearby skate shop. There we’d hang out, watch skate videos and shoot the shit with the employees.

I always remembered sitting on the floor of the cafetorium in elementary school during gym and noticing that the friends I looked up to were all wearing Vans. I remembered thinking how much I wanted Vans, rather than the knock off sneakers my mom got me from Payless at the beginning of the school year. Finally, in 6th grade I got my parents to by me a pair of és Koston 1s. I somehow convinced the clerk to sell them to me for $65 rather than the $80 they were supposed to retail for.

I’ll never forget them, all black with a grey sole. It genuinely felt like doors opened up for me after that. Guys noticed me, noticed my sneakers and knew I was a fellow skater, that I was part of their tribe. Funny how what we wear can dictate how we are perceived. However, after that I resolved myself to always buy skate shoes. I think the deprivation of “proper” skate shoes when I was younger made me realize that once I was able to afford to buy what I wanted, I was going to buy real skate shoes.

As I got older I began to experiment with style. I would ware neck ties with t-shirts to class. I’d wear a different sneaker on each foot. I wanted to stand out. I wanted to get noticed. I wanted to do something that was different that would express my individuality and show people I could do or be whoever I wanted.

Throughout the years styles have changed. I try to keep up with the trends to be perceived certain ways by certain groups. But I guess all I was getting at, all I was really thinking about was that one moment where fashion and friendship came together. Specifically and more poignantly, the friendship. It’s moments and memories like those ones that make you nostalgic for the past.

No one ever tells you you’re in your golden years when you’re in them. (I know I stole that line or notion from a book or a movie or something). I’d love to go back to a time when I had a big group of friends who would randomly show up at my house just to see if I wanted to go on a bike ride with them. I’m not trying to live in the past, I know you shouldn’t, but it’s hard not to thing of the ‘90s or early 2000’s without the sense that life was a little bit easier then. I guess whatever “problems” I had were so infantile that they were easier to brush aside.

I don’t know. I’m rambling. I’m really not trying to be a bummer. It’s just fun to think about the past.


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