The Sixth Pair on the Floor

six pairs of worn black chucks on the floor
There is nothing like six pairs of chucks on the floor.

I am Irish-American, grew up in Boston — now am 22 and a boxer. I remember chucks fondly because my five brothers all had chucks and I was a young kid too small to get a pair. At night all five pairs were mixed and strewn all over the bedroom floor (sizes 8 to 12). All the brothers had black, high tops because they were “cool” and what black and other guys wore. (Girls did not wear high-top chucks then. Just guys. Hate to see girls in our high tops.)

I wanted a pair and one summer my mom told my oldest brother to take me to the store to get sneakers for school. I was glad he took me because mom always brought me some other brand. I remember looking in the sporting goods store and seeing the black chucks. My brother said it was time I got a real pair of sneakers.

I remember the smell of new chucks, same as now. Man, I was so happy — my own black high tops like my brothers. I went one step further and had black and white laces together like my black friend Larry. My mom was about to faint at the sight of me at 11 years old in black high top sneakers and shorts — she was mad as hell. She accused my brother of making me another monster (She referred to my other brothers as monsters). But when my brothers saw me — man it was like I was now one of the boys. I had chucks just like them.

Now a sixth pair of high top chucks were left on the bedroom floor.

—Kevin O’Connell

Kevin O’Connell currently lives in Boston,
and is an amateur boxer through a local boxing club.
He occasionally spars for pros and has fought
two professional fights, winning both.

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