Tony, His Shoes, and My Nerves

I put on my black, semi-dressy shoes today, which is unusual for me because I am a running shoe sorta guy. I wasn’t always, but once I developed heel spurs I was advised to go through life with runners on my feet — even though I couldn’t run. In point of fact, I wore runners to school almost every day in my last ten years of teaching, and nobody ever said boo to me about my lack of standards. I never got called on the carpet or had to explain my casual dress. Maybe the reasons were self evident. Or maybe nobody in charge gave two hoots about silly things such as ties or shoes anymore.

Anyolehoo (how I love saying that!), I now have a comfy-womfy, orthotic-friendly, black pair to don when I want to spiff up a bit. Not that they’ll ever be mistaken for Tanino Criscis, but still …

Since I had a doctors appointment today, I thought I should put my best foot forward (so to speak) and washed my feet, changed my socks and laced up my nice shoes in preparation for the event. While I was putting them on, not for the first time I remembered the days when it was a Saturday night ritual to polish our shoes for church the next day. They needed it too: partly because we only had one pair, but also because that’s what shoes required back then.

Times have changed, and I don’t know when I last polished a pair of shoes.  What are you supposed to do with them nowadays when they get scuffed? Just toss em in the dustbin?

One thing I do remember with a sad shake of me ‘ead is my college roommate, Tony, polishing his shoes. Oh no, he didn’t do it on Saturday night as I had been taught to do but waited until Sunday morning. He’d carry out this chore inches from my head because we shared a small dorm room at university. And, get this: he polished or at least buffed them with a toothbrush. Toothbrushes are pretty small, eh? But they’re noisy, eh? So it took him a long time, eh? So, it fair near drove me crazy, eh?

Maybe he meant it to be a punishment for me not going to church with him although I usually did attend in those days. That’s where I met Cuppa, and we were quite religious about going to church — haha. My recollection is that if I stayed at uni on the weekend, it was most likely because I was behind in my schoolwork and needed to get caught up, so I would  take a pass on church on those occasions.

Anyway, I still shake my head at the change in footwear which now seems to last for decades without requiring polishing, and I also shake my head when I remember Tony using a toothbrush to noisily polish his shoes inches from my head on more than one Sunday morning.

What I really shake my head about, however, is how forbearing I was with good ole Tony. But, then again, I was a good Christian boy — even though I did skip church on the rare occasion. Surely my good Christian upbringing is the only reason why Tony was allowed to live.

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16 Responses to Tony, His Shoes, and My Nerves

  1. Hilary says:

    My son is the boot-polisher in the family and though he’s not lived at home for 5 years now he was busy polishing before Cadets in the early years, then onto Reserves and ultimately RMC where I no longer needed to see, hear or smell the event. He used a toothbrush at time, also. I image he still does.

  2. I had completely forgotten about shoe polish. Kiwi. I’d polish my Dad’s shoes for him, which tickled him immensely. Since I didn’t make a habit of going out of my way to do chores, it was unusual. Basically, I liked the smell. I liked it a whoo-oo-oo-le lot.

    I’m all grown up now. I don’t polish shoes, but if you’ve got any paint on anything, I’d be happy to get the Goof-Off and get it off for you. Haa-aaa-ppy.

  3. Mara says:

    I still have some shoe polish. Somewhere! But when I bought a new pair of shoes just the other day I was told NOT to polish them, but use some sort of spray, since the shoes looked leathery but weren’t! Perhaps the best thing would be to go barefooted through life.

  4. QMM says:

    AC so great to hear from you. I love your sassy little comments. There is no way I could convince HH to sit in any other chair than which one HE wanted. Love him dearly but I don’t tell him many things to do. Now on polishing the shoes, he does that every time he puts on his black, brown or bronze dress shoes, which he switches everyday, and I mean everyday. No walkers or runners for him ever. We tease him about being the mayor of Loretto (a little village where he likes to hang out.) Good to be feeling better to spend some time on the blog world for me. Thanks for all your visits.

  5. Mary G says:

    Have shoe polish. Sometimes even use it. There was also, for us wimmunfolk, the clean white glove ritual, and a few others. Does anyone else remember straightening stocking seams?
    When I started university we were allowed to wear jeans to the library on Saturdays only and had to wear dress pumps in the dining room at dinner time. I really am a dinosaur.
    I can hear that toothbrush now. Forbearing is hardly strong enough.

  6. judy says:

    We have a well-ordered green shoe shining box over here. Steve found it when he was unemployed about a decade ago. Different polishes, brushes, rags – just in case he had to take it on the road.
    I was just thinking about that today, as I found a zippered case FULL of shoe polishing stuff at a thrift store today. I didn’t buy it. Surprised?

  7. KGmom says:

    A toothbrush? Certainly a different one than what he used for his teeth.
    Up until he retired, my husband buffed his shoes for the next day each night. He would pick out his clothes, including shoes-give them a shine for the coming day.
    Then several times a year, he would load ALL the shoes up and do a regular polish. The house would smell of polish for hours to come.

  8. Still have show polish – favorite is Meltonian which is found is shoe stores (still) and is a short paste, not like the stuff in the tin cans. Used to polish black and white oxfords cause i went to a parochial grammer school and later loafers in HS (also parochial). Those dyas are long gone. Sometimes I will polish dress flats. Footwear these days is the more casual sort, as you described.

  9. Whoops…that’s SHOE polish!

  10. Ruth says:

    My running shoes with orthotics (in 3 colours) are leather and I polish them regularly. Saturday night polishing before church stuck with me and I still like doing it.

  11. Philip says:

    It seen that Christian upbringing did you some good after all. It seem even while it is often misleading us it indirectly reinforces some values which are useful with wider application. You seem to have leaned compassion and forebearance.

  12. Diana says:

    Good news for Tony I say!! I remember my mother polishing my fathers shoes. I was so fascinated by the whole process, I have no idea why.
    I had to polish a few pair in my day but am glad that’s over with now. Did the women and girls wear gloves to church? We always did. I don’t even know where you’d find those anymore. Love Di ♥

  13. lorna says:

    Dave not only polishes his shoes, he darns his socks.

  14. Doris says:

    A man at work broke both his heels (!) in a fall while trying to clear ice off his roof. He was on morphine for some time and off work for several weeks. When he finally was able to walk with crutches and return to work (in running shoes) he was reproached by his “by-the-book” manager for not adhering to the dress code. Glad your employer was more understanding.

  15. Paul L. says:

    AC, I think you’re just a decent, rational, compassionate guy who was patient with Tony without regard to Christian influence. Better to have your solid core than the veneer that needs weekly polishing.

  16. Regenia says:

    My husband still “polishes” his shoes. He has something that does not require polish and the hates to be without the sponge – like thing. His dad sold shoes, so it’s probably ingrained. By the way, I’m sure my brother commented on your being a compassionate guy. Althoug I wish he were wrong, he is probably right. But the thing I most like about his comment in the clever “veneer that needs weekly polishing”. I’ll have to ask him if I can borrow that line.

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