those are the whitest adidas.

"i need your opinion," he said. he picked out some button-down shirts, ben sherman to be exact. i thought they looked fine, and i thought for a moment that i might get myself one, too. but i have enough button-down shirts. what i need is some jeans, some regular t-shirts that fit well. maybe another pair of shoes. i looked at the shoes. i wear a size ten. there were nikes, adidas, pumas, etc. i found a pair of suede high-top onitsuka tiger shoes - my latest interest - but i didn't buy them. they were cheap, only $31 or so, but the insides had this bright neon orange lining. and they were suede. i remembered what happened the last time i wore a pair of suede shoes in seattle rain.

place was banging, good business for a friday night. most people - one would think - would be elsewhere, wearing the clothes they had already purchased from the night before, and having a good time at a decently-priced dining establishment, or else some party in the suburbs. but no, here we all were, and it wasn't friday evening, it was friday night, around 9 p.m. or so. we tried on sunglasses. i tried on a pair of pink lacoste sunglasses. i felt like it was something p. diddy or kanye west would wear. "you want those, don't you," my friend said to me. she knew me too well.

i didn't understand the basic concept of the store - nordstrom rack, that is. they had to develop a whole chain of stores to sell the leftover clothing that didn't originally sell at the chain of stores called nordstrom. i think that's the basic concept, so maybe i did understand it after all. still, what i failed to see was why they couldn't just create a section in the regular nordstrom, or else donate the clothes entirely, and not take up so much space? i find myself preoccupied with these kinds of questions, questions that don't matter and never will. all that mattered was that we were there, at this discounted, second-chance store, a kind of purgatory for clothes that had spent too much time on the racks, but weren't quite ready to just be thrown away or donated.

the following day, the sun was out, and we thought we should ride bikes. i loaded my bike into her car, into the backseat. i had to remove the front wheel. i never would've known to do such things, had it not been for the girl i met off craigslist last summer who said she would be willing to drive my specialized bicycle from sacramento to seattle for a modest fee of $50. i still remember her in my garage, her telling me that i should remove the wheel, that it would be easier for her to load it into her already overstuffed truck. "let me grab my dad's toolbox," i said. she stopped me. "no, it's a quick-release," she said. "here, let me show you." she showed me. i felt like a fool, not knowing how to do something basic with something i owned. it was like the time my cousin laughed at the woman with the mercedes who had to call aaa in the target parking lot to get her tire changed.

nearly a year later, i did the quick-release trick the craigslist girl showed me, and i loaded my bike into the backseat of my friend's white camry. my hands got dirty. my fingertips become black whenever i touch the wires. dirt and grime used to bother me, until i worked at a thrift store one summer, and then i no longer cared. that's what soap is for, i told myself. so, i loaded up this bike, and then i drove into georgetown. she picked up her bike, a vintage hercules, from the local bike shop. there was a pink-faced, long-haired guy talking to a customer about bikes. "good luck trying to contact shimano right now," he said. it served more like a warning than wishing the guy actual luck.

"where should we ride? should we go to that park?" i asked. "what park?" she asked. "that park where we took your dogs once, but then that van stared following us." "oh. oh! sure," she said. we started pedaling. it was a hot day, but once we got going on the bikes, it started to feel cool. the wind was cool against me, even with the hot sun beating down. we biked all the way across georgetown, to a place where there was water. it looked dirty and polluted, but still, there was water, so it was okay. she told me about how the fda doesn't regulate fish, so if i eat salmon, i should only eat it like once or twice a month. the mercury could be deadly.

we biked around the industrial part, full of factories and trucks and chain-linked fences with barbed wire. "this is like an environmentalist's worst nightmare!" i said. "pretty much," she said. there was a taco truck that she was excited about, but we didn't get any tacos. "is that mexican place open?" i asked. it didn't look open, but the doors and windows were wide open. "i don't know. why? you want a burrito?" "no," i said, and i hit the crosswalk button so the light would change.

we went to a dinner party with some friends. there was michael jackson playing on the radio, and there were people my age who were lawyers. michael jackson was dead, and here i was with lawyers. i had an okay time, but it made me feel old. that night, i dreamed of tower records, of wes and chris running up and down the aisles, completely care-free. and then i woke up, and i realized i couldn't ever go back to tower records again. i'd never see a new michael jackson concert on the television again. those people i met who were my age, they weren't ever going to be anything but lawyers ever again. all of this made me feel old, so very old.

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