I have to go to
As soon as I dabbed into the can of shoe polish, the pungent, waxy smell brought me back to my parents’ kitchen, where my dad would polish his shoes every so often. He had one of those carrier boxes with a handle down the middle to divide it into two sections. On one side, there would be saddle soap, black and brown polish, and a squirt bottle of water. On the other side, he stored clean, soft cloths and a soft-bristled brush for buffing. I viewed that shoe polish box as somewhat of a sacred relic because it was strictly off-limits for touching. I imagine that my parents were afraid that I’d accidentally get into the polish and start fingerprinting the house, which would not have been a stretch. Instead, I’d perch on a stool and watch Dad magically restore his shoes back to an even sheen.
Dad was and is really fastidious about certain things and shoe polishing was one of them. His left hand slid down into the toe of the shoe and his right hand skimmed the outside quickly and carefully. He applied the polish in tiny, round strokes, using the least amount of polish as possible to cover an area. Tilting the shoe this way and that, Dad checked to make sure that he hadn’t missed any spots; when he was satisfied, he laid the shoe down carefully and started on the mate as the first dried. My favorite step was buffing. The brush would fwip-fwip across the shoe, exposing a shiny, like-new surface. I sat, transfixed.
With that fwip-fwip sound echoing in my head, I finished shining my heels. They emerged somewhat battered, but much improved and it only took a little time and a dab of polish. And some magic, I think.