Getting older continually brings along unexpected challenges.

The other day, I found myself waiting for a red light. Looking to my left, I spotted an old friend looking back my way — a pair of black and white checkered Vans tennis shoes propped up on the truck’s dashboard. It was, as the saying goes, déjà vu all over again.

I first owned a pair of checkered Vans in 1982, the same year the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” hit theaters. One of the key characters, a fun, life-loving surfer name Jeff Spicoli, sported a pair, forever elevating the shoes into pop culture.

Fast forward 37 years, and here are the shoes again staring me in the face. And now for the third time around the fashion universe.

As an adult, you learn to appreciate you can — or should — only wear a fashion once in your lifetime. The theory is in life you grow and evolve into a new person over time. But on a more honest level, many of us would look ridiculous in the clothes we wore in our younger days. I’m sorry, but I am not going back to the over-the-top mullet located a few feet north of my first pair of checkered Vans.

But at what point, or how many times, can a fashion come around before you can hop back on the train? Or, maybe, more importantly, should you?

Recently, the women’s fashion world welcomed back the high-waisted jeans from the ’80s along with the smattering of the abrasive acid wash finish. Looking at them brings back happy memories from when my wife and I were younger and pretty much making up life day by day. More ahead of us than behind us, so to speak.

But today, looking at returning fashions is like watching reruns of my life. Fluorescent colors, shoulder pads and geometric patterns seem to be escaping from the dark corners of closets and back onto streets and runways. And at this rate, I almost feel as if the fashion world is following a predictable dotted line back through time.

I loved my black and white checkered Vans. As a skater, a pair of Vans was a staple in my closet. Long-wearing gum soles, tough canvas tops and no-nonsense design made these a favorite. That and they were from a mystical land called California.

But where do we draw the line? My closet still contains four pair of Vans, two lace, one slip and another model designed for, ahem, their older clientele featuring lavish padding and elevated and squishy sole for comfort.

But I ache for my black and white Vans. Maybe they represented my youth as tie-dye did for my older cousins in the ’60s. Maybe they remind me of a carefree time when if I carried enough change for a burger and didn’t stay out too late, life would be fine. After all, summers were all about skating, hanging with friends, and more skating.

Maybe just one more pair for old times’ sake?

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

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