Have you ever heard the term “once an addict, always an addict?”
Anybody going or having been through some sort of rehab would have probably heard that. (Shout out to y’all for going through that change.) While there is much debate about whether the statement is true or not, the overall mantra does stand true for most anything and that you may take a deep liking and knack to. You will always more than likely have some sort of connection, history, or “thing” with that vice, whatever it may be. The same thing goes for sneakerheads. We’re no different from everyone else, and once we go down our path of sneaker collecting and appreciation, we can’t stop.
When I was but a young boy, about 7 or 8 years old, my dad taught me how clean my sneakers. I remember having some triple white Pumas (a model in which I can’t remember and thought were ugly at the time, probably some Clydes), and my dad first showed me the power of an old toothbrush and a towel. Being only 7 or 8, I kept those Pumas as clean as I could, barring irreparable damage from scuffs and horseplay. I was 7 or 8, after all. But I would keep with the trend of cleaning my shoes for as long as I could remember and do in elementary and middle school, until I went to a private high school, where the dress code didn’t allow sneakers.
One would think, “well, surely you must’ve cleaned whatever shoes you did have to wear in high school, J.” Nope. All the shoe cleaning and maintenance fell by the wayside. I was wearing Sperry’s for 4 years, so there wasn’t much for me to do when it came to sneakers. I really only had about 1-2 pairs to rock on the weekends, and I had absolutely no interest in cleaning my Sperry’s. None. And after a while, that laziness and lackluster care for my shoes spilled over into my actual sneakers that I did get to wear on weekends. So for a cool amount of time, I let my sneakers go by the wayside. For years. My uncle once gave me a pair of Cement (Cement!) Air Jordan IVs, and I let them get absolutely cut up. I really regret that I had never taken more time of day to take care of them because those are my favorite Jordans of all time, and I haven’t had another pair since.
And when I went to college, I started to pick it back up with the sneaker maintenance, because I was somewhat starting to build my actual rotation. It wasn’t religiously done like I would have liked because of college and all, but I kept it somewhat consistent and on my mind. It wasn’t one of those things where I had to relearn what I knew all those years ago, rather it was like swimming or riding a bike. When you know it, you know it forever. And of course I learned some new things by trial and error, but as soon as I started taking care of my sneakers again, it was like I never stopped.
As a Sneakerhead, I’ve also collected and parted ways with many a sneaker. But even through all that, I’m still collecting, still replacing and getting rid of sneakers, and I’m still cleaning them too, of course. The cycle keeps going. And I know I’m going to stay the course for as long as I possibly can. Once a Sneakerhead, always a Sneakerhead. It doesn’t stop. Just ask Foamer Simpson.