My family was never ostentatious. Quite the opposite, we were quiet and unassuming folks, with no flashy cars or nothing. Just plain old, middle-America, nothing special at all. Family cars were faded brown (an inherited car) white (dad’s company car) and that was about it.

But somewhere early on I developed a taste for loud clothes. That’s the best way I can describe it, is loud. I’ve always liked bright sneakers, and some of my faves have been bright blue and red (like Capt. America), maroon with bright gold designs, candy-apple red running shoes, and perhaps the best of all were blue patent-leather high tops (tight!!). Once I had plain white Keds and I had my brother paint them with a bright green paisley pattern.

When the family was moving from Illinois to New Jersey (my junior year in high school) I saw some checkered Vans in a shoe store, just like Spiccoli wore in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Oh Snap!, I wanted those. But mom said maybe I should wait; since I was going to start a new school soon, no need to walk in all ostentatious-like. So I didn’t get them. In NJ, it seemed like every other kid had those shoes. I’d have fit right in! (note to self: listen to yourself from now on…).

But that’s me. I have a photo from when I was in elementary school, a family trip to the zoo. My outfit, put together by me, head to toe: a blue fishing-style hat with brightly-colored shapes all over it, purple-striped tank top, green gym shorts, brown tube socks (with orange stripes) up to my knees, and blue sneakers. At one point as an adult I thought: why did they let me go out like that?! But then I realized it’s good that they did not try to suppress my fancy ways. No need to get influenced into being boring…Anyway, I’ve toned it down some over the years, although I still like some bright, bright sneakers when I can find them.