Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Converse Shoes and Happiness

When I was 13, a socially awkward and constantly miserable teenager, I had a girl crush on someone in my class. She was everything I was not – very pretty, tall and slim, and hugely popular amongst the more senior boys in the campus. While most of the girls in our class wore our uniforms – a white cotton long-sleeved polo top and a hideous fuchsia pink midi-skirt – with a pair of boring Mary Janes or unattractive leather loafers, she casually strode across the school halls in a pair of All Star Converse trainers, as though modelling on a catwalk. It was a fashion mismatch of course and very few would be able to pull it off, but in my young impressionable mind, it was those pair of shoes that gave her the air of confidence she carried around.

But even at such a tender age, I have never been deluded about what my family could and couldn’t afford, and a pair of Converse shoes, then worth a sack of rice that would have fed us for a couple of weeks, was not worth the squeeze on my mother’s modest budget. This early propensity for delayed gratification has served me well throughout the years and helped me align my material aspirations with the size of my bank account. So that goes without saying that my smart phones (older models instead of the latest versions) only get replaced every three years, I do not own a must-have iPad and my clothes, mostly bought at charity shops do not cost more than five quid. This did not mean I do not long for nice luxurious things that other people own, it's just that I have learned to wait for the right opportunity to come along.

So no, I never forgot about my longing to own a pair of Converse trainers that would cement my place amongst the ‘cool’ crowd despite my husband’s insistence that at thirty, I am now too old to wear one. It became one of those luxuries we agreed to buy when we can finally afford to splash cash around which doesn’t look likely to happen anytime soon. But for the last four years every time we pass by a shoe store with a window display of these beautiful canvas shoes, I would gently remind him of this yearning. A couple of times, he has in fact told me to just get on with it and pick up a pair but the problem with a shared bank account is that £45 for a pair of shoes can be quite a drain in our limited resources. And the practical side of me always win in the end.

That was until last Sunday, when that perfect chance finally came knocking and I went home with a nearly new pair of classic white Converse All Stars bought for £4 (this is where I hear the cymbals and drumbeats!). I had been doing my weekly rounds at the car boot sale at Hillsborough Arena on our way to the leisure centre for a swim when I found the shoes. Without showing the excitement that was bubbling inside me, I inquired for the price. Five pounds. But because I was already a bit confident in the tricks of this pop up market, I bargained to knock a couple of pounds off and eventually sealed the deal at £4.

A few days later, I'm still beaming. I don’t think I would be wearing these pair of shoes with as much satisfaction had I paid the full price for it. But there you go, true to the philosophy of deferred gratification, a pleasure delayed is indeed a pleasure enhanced!

So now on to the classic question: would you eat a chocolate now or would you hold out for two later?

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