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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Are Shiny Shoes Passé?

crDo you shine your shoes on a regular basis? Do you have your shoes buffed regularly by a shoe-shiner?

I must admit, I have never been to a professional. My shining experiences are limited to: 1) me shining my own shoes at home; 2) me placing my shoes outside my hotel room door to be done overnight (but only in high-end establishments years ago — nowadays, I might be nervous that they would disappear by night and then I would be the barefoot businesswoman by day…!); 3) using an electric shoe buffer outside the hotel room door, somewhere on the same hallway; 4) employing the small sponge found in fancy hotel bathrooms with a bit of silicone on it which has worked wonders on shoes of any color.

But sitting in a chair in the airport, train station, or street corner and having my shoes shined by somebody else?

Not so much.

Years ago, I knew a young lady who worked as a professional shoe-shine/shoe-shiner (both terms are correct). Long blond hair, pleasant, businesslike, she was in her mid-20s and had been doing it for some time. I was fascinated. I believe she went to school, also.

Recently, I caught an indy film on TV about shoe-shines around the world. Mesmerizing.

Possible customers on the street in New York City spoke of their reticence to have their shoes shined by a black man, as though it demeaned him in some way.

cr“Hey!” the boisterous pro philosophized, “this is a decent living! What’s demeaning?” he paused in-between calling out everything from lighthearted insults to positive encouragement about the shoes pounding the pavement nearby.

A couple of the shoe-shines profiled in Canada and in Japan had quite an art going on. Tokyo, in particular, seemed to approximate a tea ceremony in the suit-wearing, bowing young man who turned top quality shoes into rain-impervious works of art.

I’ve never thought much about it, since so many people wear synthetic, non-leather shoes these days, and naturally, in a pinch, you could use everything from petroleum jelly to banana peels to work up a shine.

But, you never know: this could be an old art on the upswing in upscale parts of town. Watch for it!

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