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Me And My Oshkoshes (Otherwise Known As My Missed Chance At Popularity) This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   There was a time in my life (cough, cough, Middle School) when all I wanted was to be like the most popular girls in school. In fact, I wanted to be one of them. One particular incident sticks in my mind. The day before I started sixth grade, my mom took me to Ditto's to buy a new pair of sneakers. With a little help from her, I picked out a pair of white leather Nikes with royal blue stripes. I had, after all, grown up in various styles of Nikes sneakers and it seemed only natural to continue this trend.

After only a few days in school, I realized that everyone who was anyone was wearing Reeboks. I was in a state of shock. What was I to do? This could go on no longer. I knew I was an embarrassment to my family and to my - dare I say - friends.

Something had to give. When I received an invitation to Alex Delaney's sleepover, I knew it was my chance to impress The Big Girls. "Please, Mom," I begged, "Please, I'll do anything. This is really important to me. Can I please get a pair of Reeboks?" At last my mother relented and popularity was close at hand. I would arrive at Alex's in style.

Everything was set. Now, all we had to do was run to Ditto's and buy The Shoes. Immediately, I marched over and picked out the style I wanted. (At least here I decided on my own. Almost all of the girls who would be at the party had grey or pink Reeboks, but, again with my mother's help, I stuck to my guns. I chose white.)

Unfortunately, Ditto's was out of my size. What could I do? Death and destruction were near. There was no time to go to another store, I was already fashionably late. I had a plan. "Mom, I'm sure, these feel fine. I like sneakers to have extra room at the top, it allows for thick socks in the winter, and besides (here was the clincher), there's growing room."

Victory! (I knew she'd fall for that line.) Hurry! There was no time to lose! We bought the sneakers and I was on my way to Fame, Fortune and the Big Apple. In the car, I carefully laced and tied my sneakers. They weren't just sneakers now - they were a measure of my self-worth, a symbol. I knew I could sit in my room at night and look over at my closet to see them, strategically placed, and glowing, as if with some holy light.

In Alex's driveway, I discreetly kissed my mother good-bye, grabbed my bag and pillow, and walked up to the door with stars in my eyes. Walking, however, took practice. I couldn't let my mother see that the shoes were too big, so I carefully scrunched my toes into a tight ball and balanced on my heels.

Alex opened the door and I waved to Mom. As she backed out of the driveway, I prayed the other girls wouldn't hear the car's dying muffler. When I walked into Alex's entryway, she pointed to a corner full of pink and grey Reeboks. Oh no! I couldn't believe it! She wanted me to take them off! How could I face those girls in only my white tube socks? It hadn't occurred to me that everyone else would be wearing one of their many pairs of Guess jeans. I was wearing Oshkosh. I couldn't do it.

But there was Alex, smiling and still politely pointing to that dreadful corner. I could hear the voices of the girls coming from the other room. They were probably laughing at me or my Oshkoshes. Ever so reluctantly, I removed my sneakers. There went my fleeting chance at popularity. Maybe I should have walked into the other room, said hello, and then taken off my shoes. They'll never know that I own a pair of Reeboks. Not until Monday anyway, and it will be too late. They will already have their first impression of me.

Yeah. Me and my Oshkoshes. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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