Subtlety not being his strong suit, my 12-year-old nephew recently
sent me an instant message that read: “How much are you going to spend on me for
“How much do you want me to spend?” I asked him.“65 cuz I want these kewl dunks,” he replied in that abbreviated IM-speak everyone is so fond of.I wasn’t sure what the hell he was talking about, but told him: “I love you $65 worth — we’ll talk later.”My nephew found the perfect sucker because I remember being a kid and feeling like the world depended on such things. Between several more IMs, phone calls and researching of nefarious Web sites in the sneaker underworld, I knew my mission was to get him the Vapor-edition Nike Dunk SBs (skateboarders), preferably with an orange swoosh. That’s where the trouble started.A newbie at quests for limited-edition sneakers, I stupidly went to mainstream stores asking, “Do you have any Dunk SB Vapors?” On the best days I’d get a “Nah, those only lasted one day in our store,” and on the worst of days there’d be an incredulous “Ha! Yeah, right!”There was a brief, almost magical moment at a store in the Glendale Galleria where I was shown to a wall that felt more like a shrine. There among all the other non-contenders was a vast array of Dunks. One even had an orange swoosh and “Nike” emblazoned on the back with an audacity that would make even LeBron James blush. I tried not to hyperventilate as I asked, “Do you have these in a size 7?” The gum-cracking, ghetto-fabulous-wannabe salesclerk asked, “In women’s or men’s?” “Men’s,” I answered like that was a strange question. Of course the pair I had pinned my hopes upon was for women. It was almost too much to bear.My quest then took a different route — toward Melrose and La Brea. I went to stores that had kicks that cost upward of $200. I went to stores where they told me, “Go talk to Vinny in the back,” and I even went to a store in Highland Park that only those in the know know about. I turned up nothing.I went back to the Internet, where, sadly, I learned a lot of the supposed “real deals” on eBay and other sites are actually fakes.Finally, I decided that I was just going to break down and go to the Nike site where you can “build your own.” There, I was sure, I’d finally design the best pair of Dunks any kid could ever want. I chose the “Baroque Brown” leather trim with the “Tiffany Blue” background and a lime-green swoosh to act as the cherry on top of my sneaker sundae. It was actually fun. Ninety-two dollars and one cent later, I was so proud that I sent my nephew a link to my creation. I went to bed feeling satisfied that my quest was finally complete. In the morning I got an e-mail: “Those are the basketball Dunks, I wanted the skateboard ones.” Shit.
I marched over to the Active skate shop in Burbank and got him a $50 gift certificate.
As far as I’m concerned, $50 plus 15 hours of shopping and Internet research equals
$65 worth of love.

LA Weekly