Sole Survivor

LaVeta bought bobos. Two pairs. It was the shock of my married life.

By Solomon Jones
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 20, 2002

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Where I come from, there are a few things you just don't do. You don't disrespect your mother. You don't try to hustle a hustler. And never, under any circumstances, do you wear bobos.

What are bobos?

Simply put, bobos are extremely cheap sneakers. Dollar ninety-nine cheap. Back in the day, they were the kind of sneakers you could buy from a wire mesh container next to the checkout counter at Pantry Pride. You know, white canvas, hard yellow rubber, dried brown glue oozing from the sides.


When I was growing up, if your mom bought you bobos instead of Jack Purcells or Pro-Keds, you prayed they weren't the kind with the conspicuous red or blue stripe running around the side. If they were (and God was especially merciful), your mom scraped up another $1.99 before the rubber began to crack.

When you got your new bobos, you threw the old ones up on the wire at the end of the block. Then you tried your best to wear out the new ones quickly, hoping your mom would get the message and buy you something better next time.

Long and short of it, bobos are bad news, and everyone from my generation knows it.

So when I came home last week and my wife, LaVeta, said, "Honey, I got some new sneakers," I was expecting something along the lines of Nike Airs.

But when she removed them from the box, they were something else altogether. White leather with red stripes, rubber that was white instead of yellow, an intricate logo on the top. There was no denying it. Neither the quality of the material nor the fancy logo could hide the horrible truth.


"They're not bobos!" LaVeta said defensively. Oh, but they were. They were manufactured by some company called the Beverly Hills Polo Club. I don't know what that means in Beverly Hills. But in Philadelphia, it means they're bobos.

I looked down at the sneakers and smiled. Then I reached over and picked up our 1-year-old daughter, Eve.

"Mommy's got bobos," I said sadly.

Eve said, "Da da."

Then she looked down at the sneakers, glanced at me and smiled at her mother. She didn't get it. At least not yet.

"I was trying to save us some money," my wife said earnestly.

That's when I knew my wife loved me.

You would have to love someone to wear bobos for the greater good. Granted, I'm the sole breadwinner--we decided that my wife would stay at home and take care of our daughter--but I would never have asked her to do anything that drastic for the sake of our financial life.

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