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Pondering my shoes

by vmbrasseur on January 29th, 2013

I spend a lot of time walking. Sure, I love my bike and I’ll even use public transport when necessary, but walking is my preferred mode of getting from place to place. Yes, it takes a little longer but to me it’s worth it.

Typically, when the weather allows (read: most of the year), I do my walking au natural, unshod, barefoot, even, falling back on Vibram Five Fingers if barefoot ain’t gonna cut it for some reason. But sometimes a gal’s just gotta wear shoes, and if you’re gonna do it you may as well do it right. Soon after I moved to San Francisco I shelled out about $150 for a really nice pair of Josef Seibel walking shoes.

As shoes go, these are pretty great. They’re comfy, they’re sturdy, they fit well and they look pretty good. Yay. I’m a fan. During the winter months, when it’s too cold for bare feet, I can be found tromping all over the city in these things. We’ve logged many a mile together, these shoes and I.

Lately, though, they’ve started to look a bit dingy. The lovely brown color was wearing off in places. I was starting to become self conscious when I wore them, believing people must look at my shoes and think me a slob. In truth it’s unlikely anyone even noticed my shoes, but that didn’t stop me from feeling uneasy.

One day, while sitting on my bed, I pondered what to do about my poor bedraggled shoes. Yes, I sat and pondered about my shoes. It’s not so odd a pastime. Some people juggle geese. I ponder my shoes. Work with me, here.

Anyway, so there I sat, pondering. I’m rather ashamed at how much of that pondering was required for me to come to the conclusion that perhaps my footwear would benefit from some basic maintenance.

Like any good geek, I started by hitting the search engine to see what the internet had to say about the matter. It seemed, from my research, that all that was really needed was a little shoe polish and a few minutes of my time. Well. OK then. That seems simple enough.

A quick jaunt to a shop up the street provided the necessary supplies. Polish, applicator brush, shining brush. Grabbing my shoes and an old cotton kitchen towel from the closet, I sat down and set to work.

Pick up shoe. Brush on the polish. Brush brush brush. Not too thick, just cover everything a little. Set shoe down. Repeat with other shoe. Check Twitter while the polish dries. Pick up shoe. Buff off the polish. Buff buff buff. Set shoe down. Repeat with other shoe. Wipe down with the towel. Wipe wipe wipe. Sit back. Admire shoes.

I had discovered the Shoe Fountain of Youth. While they certainly wouldn’t be mistaken for new, they would no longer be seen as scruffy, either. The color had returned to the toes and heels and each shoe had a lovely mat sheen to it.

Acquiring and using my own shoe shining materials made me feel very anachronistic, but in a responsible sort of way. It’s as though I had joined the small but stalwart community of people who actually give a damn about their possessions, who take the time to maintain and mend them rather than simply wear them out and toss them aside. And that made me feel good. I spent a lot on these shoes and they do many good things for me. It’s proper that I should take the time to care for them. I feel we, as a consumer society, have really lost something here. We’ve lost the pride in ownership; the pride in doing things for ourselves; the pride in pondering our shoes.

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