Young Fit & Firm Chic

"On the subway, the D train, heading for the Bronx, Kramer stood in the aisle holding on to a stainless-steel pole while the car bucked and lurched and screamed. On the plastic bench across from him sat a bony old man who seemed to be growing like a fungus out of a backdrop of graffiti. He was reading a newspaper. The headline on the newspaper said HARLEM MOB CHASES MAYOR. The words were so big, they took up the entire page. Up above, in smaller letters, it said "Go Back Down to Hymietown!" The old man was wearing a pair of purple-and-white-striped running sneakers. They looked weird on such an old man, but there was nothing really odd about them, not on the D train. Kramer scanned the floor. Half the people in the car were wearing sneakers with splashy designs on them and molded soles that looked like gravy boats. Young people were wearing them, old men were wearing them, mothers with children on their laps were wearing them, and for that matter, the children were wearing them. 

What's old is new again: not-so-cheap 1980s sneakers from Maefair on Etsy.

This was not for reasons of Young Fit & Firm Chic, the way it was downtown, where you saw a lot of well-dressed young white people going off to work in the morning wearing these sneakers. No, on the D train the reason was, they were cheap. On the D train these sneakers were a sign around the neck reading SLUM or EL BARRIO.

Kramer resisted admitting to himself why he wore them." (36)

Wolfe, Tom. Bonfire of the Vanities. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1987.

Uptown vs. Downtown! Classic Wolfe class descriptors and observation. Expect many more quotations from Mr. Go-to-hell in coming weeks.