Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Shoe Shine

I have to go to New York for the day tomorrow to visit a company for work, which means that my normal uniform of jeans and flip-flops isn’t going to cut it. I test-drove a few outfits and settled on a pin-striped dress and red sweater, but I realized sadly that my black heels had seen better days. They were a bargain $20 pair I picked up when I first started working about three years ago and they showed their age and, uh, bargain quality. Glancing at the clock, I assessed the damage. I couldn’t fix the ground-out heel, but the scuffs could be fixed with some polish. I rooted around for the can of black and laid out paper towels on the kitchen counter for a workspace.

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.


L Sass said...

What a great memory of your dad!!

I will do quick-fix polishes myself, but mostly I depend on the shoe repair shop to do my work for me.

I can't believe you're here right now! Hope you're having fun!

insthings said...
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