Guys Who Wear Chucks

Will Friedle wearing chucks
What is the allure of a guy who wears chucks?

Some scientists think we humans — like other animals — secrete odorless molecules called pheromones that may attract the opposite sex. That might work for some girls, but not for me. Just as peahens are wooed by the large, colorful tail feathers of peacocks, I go weak in the knees for guys who wear Chuck Taylors. He can be as homely as the runner-up in a one-man ugly contest. He can still be living at home with his parents. He can want me to watch his favorite “Star Trek” episode. As long as there are All Stars on his feet, my standards go out the window.

Lots of women suffer from this obsession with men who wear Chuck Taylors — a condition which, from here on, I will refer to simply as “the fever.” Falling into this group is Marjorie Ingall, author of “The Field Guide to North American Males” and a former writer for the now-defunct teen magazine “Sassy.” Her first big heartthrob wore chucks. “You never forget your first love,” she’ll tell you. Ingall, who calls herself an expert in malewatching, describes chucks-wearing boys as fun and boyish, “but not in a scary, fratboy way.” The key, she warned, is being able to tell whether the chucks-wearer is childlike or childish. “You want to date someone with a youthful, rebellious spirit,” she cautioned. “Not someone who has never washed a dish in his life and thinks the underwear fairies pick up after him at night when he strews his clothing willy-nilly over the landscape. It is the risk we run with the love of the chucks,” she added.

My first real love wore Chuck Taylors. I met him at the Grandin Theatre, where he worked the box office. We always had good talks while I bought my tickets, but I’d never thought twice about asking him out. After all, from my vantage point outside the box-office window, I couldn’t see his shoes. Then one day, I bumped into him downtown. Box-office boy was wearing faded, black Chuck Taylors. We started dating immediately. I knew it was love when he bought my mom a pair of chucks for her birthday. One day in a fit of rage over some sin I’ve long since forgotten, I threw away his favorite pair of Chuck Taylors, the ones he’d been wearing when we met. To this day, he still hasn’t forgiven me.

There have been other chucks-wearing boyfriends, for sure, all of them distinctive in their own ways. Particularly memorable is the one who, for my birthday, painted my name on a cow’s skull that he’d found on his father’s farm.

How could anyone think that this move to overseas production will not substantially change the classic Chuck Taylor? A Chuck Taylor without that Made in the U.S.A. stamp is simply not a Chuck Taylor. We who suffer from the fever know that this is the end. If something horrible happened that caused all the world’s peacocks to lose the ability to grow tail feathers, would peahens mate with them anyway or would they turn their backs on the poor fellas forever? If this is the end of Chuck Taylors as we know them, what will become of those of us who suffer from the fever? Will our mating instincts be doused out (apologies to Elton John) like candles in the wind?

Ingall says there are ways to spot men who possess the rare qualities of Chuck Taylor-type males even if the shoes vanish from the planet. She suggests looking for the following distinctive markings:

Still, chucks-type boys are more easily spotted by their chucks. So here’s a request to all the males out there who own a pair: Please take care of your shoes. Treated properly, they can last for years. I’ll love you for it.

— Beth Jones
Roanoke Times & World News

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