After my self ordained induction into “Sneaker Headdom” with the acquisition of the NIKE Dunk Pro Obsidian / 3M, my obsession started in earnest. I now had just enough knowledge to start to begin to educate myself on what was available and obtainable. All this while fully aware that I had missed a good 18 years of my own life, and veritable decades of releases to catch up on. But, at this point I was only interested in Dunks. As far as I knew, and I still believe to this day, at that point (Summer of 2004) Dunks were generally a special thing. Even the GRs didn’t saturate the market. This was before Urban Outfitters started carrying them and there were no CWs that didn’t have some statement or style to them.
I was on eBay every day and making a long term plan of pick ups. When it comes to collecting in general I need to complete sets, so I couldn’t just get the Home Rayguns, I’d have to get the Aways too. Unluckys AND Luckys. Hi AND Low Tweeds. Lunar Eclipse East Coast AND West Coast. These were all significant pick ups – none of which I ended up getting. As a Freshman College student on a tight budget and a job I only had time for during the summers, I had to be very careful. So my pick ups were rather small. I opted for the Grunges rather than the Jedis. Carhartts instead of Forbes. The Preps instead of Paris. I got screwed on eBay more than once, and weaseled out a few extra pairs from my parents. I made a list, but I didn’t stick to it. I got what I could when I had a few extra dollars and something popped up for sale. Until one day.
I don’t remember where I was going, but I know I was on a Subway train. It was the Yellow or the Orange line. It was an old car. And I was standing next to a door. I didn’t have luggage, which is a confusing part of the memory because all Freshman year I barely went above 14th street (unless I was going to Grand Central to go to my Mom’s house). But I saw them for the first time and had no idea what they were. In the antiseptic yellow light of those old subway cars I could tell they were Dunks, they were brown and the toe was – what looked to be – orange. I’d never seen them before. That’s saying something. I was on eBay every day going through hundreds of listings and had never seen these. I stared at the pair, the guy leaning against the doors between cars, his smug smile as he looked off to the side told me he knew I was gawking. I tried to stop, but I couldn’t. They were perfect.
So, like with the 3M Dunks, I started to search. The search was impeded by the fact that I thought the toes were orange, obviously. So I widened my search, kept at it day by day, and one day spotted them. The Bison Red Toes. Made from Bison suede, two tones of brown, and a bold red toe. And $400. It wasn’t even a question. I called in every favor, and opted not to pay my cellphone, to skip the subway, and no drinking for three weeks. They were mine. They were the wrong size, but they were mine.
Since they were the wrong size (10.5), I’ve worn them just a few times. Too many that now they’re nearly unsellable, but not enough that I got to actually enjoy them. Instead, this pair just acts as a trophy for a pair I could have, nay, should have had and worn through. And this pair continues to influence me. Every time I consider a New Balance custom (and the twice I’ve gotten them made), it always has a toe of a different color. Ronnie’s Salmon Toe is what caught my attention the first time to his designs (a story for another day). That bold contrast will always do it for me. But these did it first. I actually haven’t bought a pair of Dunks since. I still have a long list for Dunks, but the Bison Red Toes are the ones that got away. Unlike the 3Ms that I loved into submission, these I chased and let me down. I’ll get redemption though, I’m certain.
(I just have a few more of these entries before I’m done – I wanted to get them down before the holidays and before 2013. Sorry if I’m over-doing it.)