“My outfit is trash,” I heard from the room behind me.
Ellis always said shit like that, passive-finessive shit like that. I turned around to him standing in front of a full-length mirror. Most of the pieces I could make out: a cropped, khaki green Saint Laurent bomber, what I believe was the charcoal Rag & Bone Henley I saw him cop last week, some dirty-wash Fabric Brand jeans, and a pair of white mid-top Common Projects.
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s trash,” he repeated, turning to me, looking down at his garms in disappointment. “But I changed like eight times already. Let’s just hurry up and get there.”
E had always been the best dressed person I knew, but he’d been acting really sus about clothes ever since reading this self-help book by some aging fashion critic called, “The Delusions of the Alphet.” More and more, E began lodging this ridiculous idea that his love for gorgeous apparel could somehow be hemorrhaging his overall well-being. Dumb, right? Yeah, well, knowing that still wouldn’t prepare me for how weird shit was about to get.
• • •
The pin never drops at the right spot when ordering an Uber from E’s apartment. As I’m on the phone with our driver, I hear Ellis popping off with some random dude walking by.
“Yoo! I’m sorry for running up, but you gotta tell me where you got those!”
I turn to dude and pan my eyes downward. When I reach his shoes, hand to God, my jaw drops like Johnny Bravo. They looked like the railings of a roller coaster, one that made me nauseous. Like, you know how the big blocks of mouse-cheese always looks in cartoons? They were for sure something a Middle American, middle-aged “Tom” or “Jerry” would wear.
He seemed nervous. It was like he was waiting for it, and so was I – the moment when E, like I’ve seen him do so many times before, would inch his hand into his pocket while pandering to someone’s struggle-shoes, quick draw his iPhone like a western gunslinger, slide up to the camera, slide right to video, and record as roars “WHAT ARE THOOOOOOOSE?!” to deafening heights – holding the O until he’s completely strained of breath and drooling maniacally. This one might go viral I thought, staring screw faced at the yellow shoe-things before me.
“EBay?! Grailed?! And how much did you cop for?! I’ve been looking for months!”
“I’m sorry?” he responded, confused, with an indiscernible accent.
He didn’t understand English well.
E, Just do it already.
Another minute or so of confusion, and then…just like that…he just let him walk away! No meme. No demonic drooling. Nothing.
Wait, what? Why would—
Before I can fully register what happened, I hear a car horn from across the street. Our Uber somehow found us.
• • •
Traffic got pretty bad about a mile up from our destination, so there was plenty of time to people-watch the humans of Santa Monica from our car windows. Ellis never missed an opportunity to troll people wearing trash outfits, but I wasn’t used to the “kill them with kindness” jig he was on that day.
“You don’t expect me to help when somebody finally spazzes on you, right?”
“What are you talking about? All I’ve done is dish out compliments today. I’m about to pull up and embarrass myself with this on, though. Just look at everybody.”
“So the dude with the generic Lego Crocs on earlier?” I asked, “What was that?”
“It’s summer, fam; Sock Darts are lit this summer.”
“SOCK DARTS?! Those were not fucking Sock Darts!”
He googled a picture of the Nike Sock Dart SP “Volt” and asked, “Would you say that both pairs of shoes, these and the ones from earlier, share a neon-yellow colorway?”
“Well, yeah, but—”
“Would you say that both are free of laces?”
“Yes, but that doesn’t prove—”
Reasonably same shape?”
“No!” (Got his ass!)
“Did you see the shoe from every angle?”
“Obviously not, E.”
“Okay then, so, from your angle, reasonably same shape?”
“ Fuck it, yeah. I guess. But what are you getting at?”
“How can you tell me that such a simple shoe, with so very few details, shares all of those features with another shoe and yet be so confident that they are laughably different?”
He was actually serious, but it didn’t matter to me how loony he sounded or why he was talking like that – I was more pissed that he was trying to make me look stupid, like I don’t know fashion or something. I went in:
“You can’t just merge similar features of two separate shoes and then argue that they’re the same shoe.”
“Well, isn’t every piece of clothing merely the sum of its details?”
I wanted to kill him. It was like True Detective Vince Vaughn but IRL. Sure, he had a point, generally, but it made no sense within the context of our conversation about two pairs of shoes that were obviously different. I took things further by reminding him why Nike named the shoe “Sock Dart,” and how the shoes from earlier were plastic, not knitted with luxe computer technology.
“I don’t remember you touching his shoes. Did you?”
“I didn’t need to in order to tell the difference. Plus, I think the shits had holes!”
“ Ah, you think! To be so sure that two fabrics or materials are different, it’s best to use the sense of touch, am I right?”
“Oh shit! Wait, call them. We’re pretty much here.”
I started to think. I guess I don’t know that the shoes weren’t Sock Darts, because I couldn’t prove otherwise. But what became even more unsettling was how I ended up defending shoes (the Darts) that I also don’t like. They’re pretty weak to me, yet I still felt adamant about them being better than the mouse-cheese-looking shoes from earlier. The minor, independent details of the Darts – silicon strap, for instance – wasn’t impressive enough to sell me on a justified preference. I was stuck.
So ,what then? Am I the real fuccboi here? Someone who chooses the recognizable brand in a lose-lose? Hell, were they Sock Darts?! Had Ellis elevated himself to the beau monde while I’m trapped in inertia? Is this why so many of the godliest designers dress like shit? Could it be true that the more you truly understand fashion, the worse you start to dress?
I felt like my head was going to explode with all these questions as we pulled up to Bungalow.
“Whatever, E. They’re Darts if you want them to be Darts.”
“Exactly, man. I read somewhere that that’s all this shit is about anyways.”