Walking in Jax Teller’s Shoes
by Jerry DeNuccio
I was determined to buy them, but I dillydallied. The object of my possessive desire? A pair of Nike Air Force One sneakers, the kind worn by Jax Teller, Hamleted hero of “Sons of Anarchy.” The reason for my hesitancy? Because the closest store selling them was 75 miles away, it would be an online purchase.
Now, I could tell you I thought the Air Force Ones were good-looking, and I needed a presentable pair of casual sneakers. Of the four pair I own, all are former running shoes and all between 12 and 20 years old. One, used for outdoor work, is held together only by a liberal and frequent use of Shoe Goo and Gorilla Glue. The other three are so besmirched, bespattered, and begrimed that they are beyond even the most diligent applied ministrations of a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. So, the Air Force One’s would serve a practical function by filling a footwear gap. That’s true.
But the truer than true reason, is that The Air Force Ones are cool. They are the shoes Jax Teller wore. That gave them the metaphysical allure of on-the-edgeness, the talismanic glamour of at-the-fringeness, the wild abandon of anything-could-happenness. My heart beat to the idea of them, and I let myself be a fool to that idea. They would infuse a renegade quality right in the marrow of my conformist bones, tabasco the humdrummery of my days and ways with a tang of the hooligan, unsettle the everyday pettiness of routine with a dash of the desperado, assert their wearer’s scofflaw credentials. In the periodic table of my composite identity, the element outlaw was throwing around its atomic weight.
As John Locke observes, present joy is tempered by anticipated trouble. My few forays into online purchasing had done little but stage my incompetence. They helter-skeltered my confident assurance of general capability, replacing it with queasy ambivalence. It seemed a mosh-pitted world, making me its unwitting plaything, turning me into a “martyr to a motion not my own.” It immersed me in a cortex-turbulent eddy of images and information. One imperfectly comprehended direction, one injudicious click, would open a trapdoor of rue and regret, casting me into an unlit labyrinth when what I most wanted was sabbath sunlight. And it was a beguiling courtesan, too, for once I managed to complete the transaction, I would be exposed to pestering targeted ads, surveilled, entered into the churning maw of big data. And should the shoes not fit, I’d have to deal with the hassle of returning them.
Further fostering my indecision was the fear that the ease of online shopping, the remoteness and insubstantiality of it, would act as a sparking flint, igniting in me an impetuous, self-indulgent getting and spending. I did not want to buy into buying, did not want to be smothered in the bear-hugging embrace of the buyocracy, did not want to be a serial wanter, did not want to reduce the gap between desire felt and desire gratified, did not want to cast myself into the undertow of impulsive grasping. I worried that online buying would lead to not just a departure from my usually diligent disinterest in the consumer ethos, but be a severing of all ties with it, a repudiation of it, a refusal to grant it recognition. Where might it all end? Start with shoes, and, who knows, I might wind up with Yosemite Sam mudflaps for my pickup.
Finally, after mustering my truant courage and reminding myself that I am a being with discipline and willpower, I made the purchase, though not without sullying my record for being singularly maladroit with all things digital. Arriving at checkout, I discovered I had somehow or other made an errant click and double-ordered the shoes. But after a correcting edit, I clicked “buy,” and, as promised, the shoes arrived 6 days later. They fit perfectly, and I wore them around the house for the rest of the day.
And wearing Jax’s shoes, I thought about other gaps in clothing and accessories I might fill Jax-style. Maybe some KD sunglasses, or a pair of black jeans. And a biker vest would be cool. But I knew, right in the dead center of me, that I might sidle up to the door of outlawry, but I would never walk through. How easily we indulge the romanticizing impulse to other ourselves, to reframe our lives in ways other than they have turned out to be, to imagine them deliciously illicit rather than routinely mundane. Some internal vanity production, some interior guerilla theater, seems to compel us, at least imaginatively, to step up to and over our lives’ boundaries rather than continually redraw them.
So, I think I’ll stop with the Jax’s shoes. My one step over.