When I started horseback riding I became the focus of my parent’s attention. Not for the riding as much as for the riding boots.
Both my parents had been in the army and they both had a deep admiration for a high-gloss shine.
“The key is applying the polish in a rather light, circular motion.” said my precise father.
“The key,” my mother said, “is elbow grease – and buffing – and spit.”
I applied the boot polish in careful quarter-sized circles, the slick black soaked through the cloth and coated my index finger. I let the polish set and then I brushed. Quick short strokes over the toe and calf of the boot. My hands and the top of my forearm powdered with the sticky polish as I worked it in the leather.
I used a chamois cloth and went back and forth, and back and forth.
Then, mama’s finishing touch, “A real fine spray of spit and an old nylon stocking makes them really shine,” she stopped to look at me over the top of one of the boots, “– it’s the spitting that makes this so much fun!”
Spitting is okay, but it was really mama who made it fun.