Saturday, April 18, 2015

Shoe Polish

We are going to a cocktail party tonight. I realize there are many people for whom cocktail parties are a special treat, but I am not one of those people. Small talk, fancy clothes, and uncomfortable shoes are not my idea of a good time.

But I'm beginning to warm to the idea of dressing up. It's been a while. I decided that I couldn't possibly tolerate standing in pumps, so I think I've put together an outfit with my high-heeled tall boots. I bought these boots many moons ago--pre-motherhood--and they were quite a fashion stretch for me at the time.

They probably are out of date now. I had to remove a substantial layer of dust when I found the boots in my closet today.

The years have not been kind to my boots. They were so scuffed that I really didn't think I could wear them for dress-up. I started to rethink the whole thing before realizing I could polish them.

I knew I had shoe polish somewhere. I knew where I used to keep it, before I realized it was used so infrequently (never) that it should be somewhere less accessible. Four closets later, I found the less accessible place.

I can't remember the last time I polished shoes. I haven't worn dress shoes regularly in more than fifteen years--business casual took care of that before motherhood did. To be honest, it wasn't like I did a lot of shoe polishing back in the day either. I often could find a guy in my office building I could pay to do it for me. I wasn't sure if I remembered how.

The saddle soap was so old that the can had rusted shut, so I settled for wiping off the layer of dust and dove into the task at hand. As soon as I smelled the polish and held the brush in my hand, I was transported to the day that my dad taught me how to polish shoes, and it all came rushing back to me.

My dad and I sat on the red barstools at the work table in his basement workshop. I was in high school. As with most of the things my parents taught me, I'm sure I saw no reason why I'd ever need to know what he was showing me. Despite this, I must have paid attention.

The how-to video buried in my mental archives was clear as day and better than any YouTube video. I could see my dad holding a pair of dress shoes, teaching me step-by-step how to do this boring (but grown-up) task.

My fifteen-year-old boots now look like new, and I did it myself. With dad's help.

This undoubtably will be more satisfying than the cocktail party.

Lest my mom feel left out, I feel exactly the same way whenever I iron a shirt. We usually send them to the cleaners, but I starch and iron in a pinch. The smell of starch reminds me of my mom's kitchen, and I vividly remember the high school day she taught my friend and me to iron. 

I don't remember much about that trip to Disney World, but I remember how to iron and polish shoes. It's the little things that stick with you for the long run.

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