They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...

These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Apr 29, 2010

AOM, 30 Days, Day Two...

Shine my shoes. 

What kind of sick degenerate thinks of this stuff?  I have shined so many shoes in my life its literally mind boggling.  I was in the Army for a grand total of 6 years, and I've been in the national guard for another 5 almost 6.  All of my active duty time was in the Military Police corps and it was during a long forgotten era when we wore black leather boots!  And black leather boots are nothing more than a sick joke perpetuated upon my generation by the powers that be who basically said, "Hey we had to shine them damn things, so they've got to do it too!"

We had to shine those things until you could see yourself in them.  And if we did not...then we were mercilessly ridiculed and punished by our sadistic superiors.  Anyone remember this one, "Looks like you shined your boots with a candy bar!"

I never could quite understand why we had to shine something that was destined to be tramped through a million fields of mud and general shit, but mine is not to reason why.

Needless to say, I harbor some animosity toward the whole idea of polishing anything other than my carrot!  But the program says Day two is shine your shoes.  So I did.  Luckily, I actually had a need for shining shoes.  In this case it is the fact that I am going to a wedding on Saturday and I bought a new sack of rags (clothes) and a new pair of shoes.  So I said what the hell, let's shine 'em.

Here's the before and after pictures.  I only gave them a good once over.  Didn't go balls to the wall yet.  Only used polish, boot brush, water and an old t-shirt.  Perhaps tomorrow I'll throw some more kiwi on there and bust out the lighter to really bring out that shine.  I mean at one point in time I used a small blow torch to get the shine into my boots really deep!  However, I imagine that only soldiers will understand that kind of goofiness.

Like I said, I didn't put a huge shine on them.  I just gave the a good once over and got one with my day.  But I think there may be some method to the madness of this thing.  Either that, or I am just creating the meaning where there is none.  In any case, it works.

So as I was sitting there shining away.  Even a good once over takes about an hour.  And it sort of amazed me how calming the repetitiveness of it all was.  My mind quieted, my thoughts slowed to a crawl and I just kept rubbing those tiny little circles on the toe and heel of my shoes.

Was this what was supposed to happen?  Hell if I know, its just what happened to me.  And I'm cool with that.  If there's one thing that I crave nowadays its a quiet mind.  I'll spare you all the gory details, but suffice it to say that its been quite an adjustment since I came home.  I saw a pile of rocks on the side of the road the other day, and I damn near killed myself swerving away from it.  Gotta watch that sort of shit.  After it was all over it made me laugh.  I mean I drive a nice Chrysler 300.  Leather heated seats, plush interior, sun roof, and all the bells and whistles you could want.  And for a minute there, I was sitting right behind the wheel of a humvee and I wasn't driving down a major interstate highway I was bouncing along the dirt shit roads of southeastern Afghanistan.  It was funny and creepy all at once.  I suppose that's what a flashback is.

That little adventure aside, things just race through my mind constantly now.  Its not like they are dominating my thoughts or anything, they're just a constant noise in the background.  And every so often, like on the highway, they come roaring to the forefront.

But shining my shoes cut out the background noise.  Who knows why or how?  Because I don't and I sure would like to.  But at least for the hour that I was polishing my shoes the only thing I heard in the background was the Marshall Tucker band coming from my stereo.

And it sounded good.  It sounded real good.


I love you Mom...

Day 3 is find a mentor.


  1. I always enjoyed the zoning out of shinig shoes...and at West Point, we did it more than your average grunt.

    I'm interested to see who you find for your mentor.

  2. Congrats on Day 2! Being a girl, I've always been befuddled watching my dad, my husband and my sons shine their shoes...what is it in that 'chore' that takes them...somewhere. I think you have taught me something today, thanks!
    Excellent choice in music! Perhaps the theme song for AOM could be MTB's, "Am I the Kind of Man"... (in my mind, the lyrics suit you to a tee).
    I too, look forward to learn of your choice of a mentor; although between your mom's strength and your dad's will be tough to surpass what you have already been blessed with as mentors!
    It's so good to read your words!

  3. I have a great memory as a child of helping my mom polish shoes on Saturday night for Sunday church. My brother and I used to get in a fight over who got to spit on the shoes. So much for getting into the zone. I'm glad it worked better for you.

    Isn't there some litte ditty about dress shined shoes...?

  4. Hey mudpuppy, It has been a while since I stopped by your blog. Trying to catch up on you. You still make me laugh out loud. Love Marshal Tucker Band!