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xmag.com : October 2000 : Boots

By Viva Las Vegas

My last four boot shines are a travelogue of my serial wanderlust. Back in April, I got a gorgeous shine from a hundred year old geezer on Las Ramblas in Barcelona. He seemed none too comfortable about shining a Lady's knee-high boots (naturally necessitating a skirt).
A week later, after several days of rain and ankle-deep mud, I sought out a little boy in Fez who did an exhiliratingly virile job. His scrawny arms belied his strength; I felt like I was getting a long-deserved leg massage. Did I ever mention I have this thing for fifteen year old kids? Some schmuck more my age paid the kid his two dirhams (twenty cents) and invited me into his store. I tipped the boy another five, then browsed obligingly. Such hospitality.
Although the kid's technique was good, his supply box left a bit to be desired. I imagined he'd not been in the business very long, and was obviously trying to skimp a bit on the polish. A week later I was more then ready for yet another boot shine, this time in Marrakech. It was evening and I'd just cruised the Djemma el-Fna, the infamous square where anything and everything goes: snake charming, anatomy lessons, ritualistic healing, Jimmy Page, sheeps' brains, fish and chips and orange juice, orange juice, orange juice. I sensed I was being followed and was overjoyed to see two toothless men sitting on a stoop, with their little wooden crates and tins of polish laid out for passers-by. And they, as it turns out, were overjoyed to see me. I got the feeling they'd been engaging either in the ritualistic healing or the Jack Daniels. My suspicions were confirmed when they asked me straight away if I'd pay them in wine. I laughed and offered them the rest of the Mexican rum I just happened to be carrying in my purse. They recoiled in horror. Although many Moroccan men like to indulge in beer and wine nightly, they steer clear of anything stronger. For the best, I guess. The men chattered and laughed as we conversed in totally broke-down French and bits of Arabic I'd learned. What the shine lacked in technical merit was well made up for by the outta-sight theater.
My boots estivated over the summer months, and made their fall debut during those chilly days in early September, their dusty Moroccan shine still apparent. The situation was soon ameliorated at the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire. I flew back East for a friend's wedding, and on the way home was informed that my flight was over-booked. Would I like to wait three hours, fly first-class, and receive a $500 travel voucher? Hell yes, I would. I'd seen that Mr. Shine guy in the lobby. He was a strapping young buck, well-muscled and looking pretty damn eager for 5AM. No sooner had I signed for my voucher than I was seated in front of him, watching intently as he outshone anyone on either of the last two continents. Turned out he used to be a fireman. The three-hour wait was well worth it already, and I hadn't even begun to dream of how I'd spend the $500 in travel, or which countries my made-for-walkin' boots would shine in next.



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