For my 30th birthday a very dear friend gave me a pair of shoes. They were dirty and ripped, the soles were completely worn out and they smelled of fifteen years worth of feet. In fact they used to be my shoes before I gave them to this friend. Yet as he passed these old, degenerate shoes to me I couldn’t help but beam with appreciation.
This is the story of my love affair with Doc Martens.
Rewind about 12 years to 1994, I was a senior in high school. Nevermind had been out for a couple of years, Grunge and Alternative were still all the rage. My wardrobe was full of flannel, t-shirts, baggy pants and sneakers. At the time I was well into a pair of skater styled Vans. The hair was long, the attitude sullen.
Enter Doc Marten. I had eyed many a pair of those brown leathered beauties many a time. But at over $100 a pair neither my wallet nor my mother was willing to shed that kind of dough.
Ah but my brother, the savior of footwear, the beater of siblings, tormentor of all things me, came through like a mackerel in cheese. He gave me my first pair of Doc Martens, and he didn’t even charge me a dime, or a wet willie.
It seems my brother had received the shoes as a gift from a buddy. The buddy had bought them and worn them for a year or so before he decided to buy a new pair. My brother, likewise, wore the shoes for another year or so before decided to buy his own new pair.
I loved those shoes. They fit so well with my whole style in those days. They were comfortable, wore well, felt great on my size 11 feet, and looked pretty stinking cool.
I wore them every single day. No kidding, for 3 years those shoes were on my feet everyday, with the rare exception of really special occasions like weddings, proms, and the odd couple of months right before I got rid of them, that I finally decided to start donning sandals.
I have a picture of me wearing the Doc Martens, black socks, a pair of plaid checkered shorts and a horizontally striped shirt. Besides the slacker, Generation X grunge look, I had the I don’t give a flipping flop how people think I look look. And those shoes didn’t leave my feet.
After three years, I finally decided to get myself a new pair. I did the loyal thing and promptly gave the old pair to my roommate.
He wasn’t quite so dedicated to the now 5 year old, 4th generation shoes as I was, but they were donned by his feet at least once a week for the next year.
Yes, he liked them so much he bought himself a new pair of Doc Martens. Yes, he gave the old pair to a mutual friend.
At this point I lost touch with the shoes. The new owner split the heat of Alabama to the hills of Tennessee. He tells me he wore them often and with love. He dropped me a note of sorrow when, while playing a game of football with buddies, the shoes scored a large rip through the toes, rendering them unwearable.
When I opened the bag that was my birthday present and found those shoes, I couldn’t help but get a tear in my eye. Once the smell of 6 pairs of feet over many sweaty years wafted away, I got a big grin on my face and knew I was looking at the best present ever.
Coming home to my little den, I placed the old Doc Martens next to the pair I bought in their stead, some ten years prior. A pair I still wear to this day.