30 DAYS TO BE A BETTER MAN: (2) SHINING YOUR SHOES

ROTTERDAM –

So your task today is to shine your shoes. Get out every pair of dress shoes that you own and get them all into ship shape condition. You never know when you’re going to need to don a pair, and the last thing you want to do is be ready to run at the door to an important meeting and realize that your shoes are in no condition to meet the public. Having a closet full of shined shoes ensures that you are ready for any occasion, at the drop of a hat. Plus, shining your shoes is the kind of quiet, repetitive activity that will calm your mind and soothe your stress.

I suppose the thing to say here is that shoes make the man. Which is true, I think. Not having shined shoes is like wearing a suit that is too big; it makes you look hopelessly unprepared for life. It reminds me of those galas and evening occasions in high school where a bunch of skinny, pimpled teenagers awkwardly shuffle around, wearing suits they supposedly will grow into. The pants are too high, the shirt itches and the tie feels like a hanging rope, – an overall uncomfortable experience that is expressed in every movement and every expression. Not having your shoes shined is about as bad.

If you’re a real man, that is.

If you’re not, then you’ll be wearing Allstars, you bloody feminised hipster.

Okay, let’s move on. Shining your shoes is indeed a kind of quiet and repetitive activity. Whether it will calm and soothe is the question, of course. Manual labour often does that. That’s why so many people do gardening, or why your parents made you mow the lawn. You were supposed to find relief in that half and hour of manual solitude away from your troubled teenage life. And you thought your dad was just being lazy..

Anyhow. I shone all of my shoes. Let’s assume you clicked on this post because of your genuine interest in shoes, there are some tips below on how to shine your shoes, based on excerpts of an article of how soldiers supposedly shine their boots. After all, what could be more manly than shining your shoes like a soldier does?

How to shine your shoes like a soldier

Step 1: Find an old towel or newspaper to spread over the area you will be working on. Shoe polish has an uncanny ability to get smeared everywhere even when you’re being extremely careful…and it’s really hard to get out of carpet.

Step 2: Clean the dust and dirt off your boots with a horsehair shine brush or damp rag. If you must get your boots a little wet to clean them off, allow them time to dry before applying the polish.

Step 3: Cover the entire shoe with a generous amount of polish, using your shoe polish brush. The polish I’m using is black Kiwi Shoe Polish, but be sure to match the color of the polish to your shoe as closely as possible. Make sure you get down in the seams of the shoe and attempt to cover evenly with polish. Allow 15 minutes for the polish to dry.

Step 4: Brush the entire shoe vigorously using the horsehair shine brush. The point of this is to basically brush off all the excess polish, leaving only a small film on the outside of the shoe.

Step 5: Once you feel comfortable that the entire shoe has been covered and brushed it is time to focus on the toe and heel for extra shine. Dip a cotton ball or pad into some water and squeeze out any excess moisture so it is damp, not dripping. Then get a little polish on the damp cotton. Next apply the polish on the toe and heel of the shoe using small circular motions. Sit back, this is going to take a while.

Step 6: Repeat Step 5 until you are satisfied with the level of shine. Remember to use a new piece of cotton each time and to remove all excess polish before applying a new coating. Also, the initial shine is the hardest, it should get a bit easier each time you do it.

To be honest, I just shone ’em, but if I ever feel like doing some manual labour to soothe myself and calm my stress, I’ll do the soldier-routine. I promise.

Man-Meter: I feel like I’ve achieved something today. And my shoes look great.

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