Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dirty Shoes

Some people believe that a quick mind, the ability to be flexible in one's thinking and a sense of adventure are the most important things to have when traveling internationally. They are wrong. All a traveler needs is a good pair of clean shoes.

A good, clean pair of shoes is more important than anything else when going to foreign countries. For example, shoes should be comfortable because you can expect to be doing a lot more walking than you normally would, and they should be clean because you will be an unaccredited ambassador from your country and dirt makes you look like a street bum.

In the event that you are meeting new people, your shoes should be extremely clean and look nice, particularly if you're meeting foreign women. All women around the world look at a man's shoes. In fact, I have the secret to how women check men out. They look first at the face (including hair), then the stomach, and then the shoes. If one of those things are out of sync the man is shot down without even knowing it. Especially if his shoes are dirty.

If you get lost in a chaotic and disorganized Asian city, a good pair of shoes can help you get out. Some Asians, in my experience, are fascinated the first time they see a foreigner and may even give you directions in exchange for a chance to touch your shoes. Yes, foreigners wear the same shoes. Wow! Okay, turn left at the big wall, go past the shops with baked bats hanging in the window, go through the crowd of prostitutes and at the far end of a big empty space you'll see the bus depot.

If your shoes are dirty, then good luck getting directions in Asia.

Even in extreme cases, a good, clean pair of shoes can be a lifesaver. Say, for instance, that you are traveling Saudi Arabia but get lost in the Sahara desert. What will you do? Well, if you have good leather shoes you can suck moisture out of them to stay alive. Do you think you could do that if they were dirty? NO!

It's a war of attrition to keep your shoes clean in Russia during the spring. I have all the products; shines, watery sponges, spit clothes, and even a small furry animal I brush over my shoes to give them a nice polish. Actually I don't have a small furry animal but it's a good idea. We should breed "shoesters" and make them genetically pre-disposed to climb around people's shoes, thus cleaning them in the process. Why aren't I rich yet?

I digress...

The Russian spring is horrendously muddy. During the day it rains and the snow melts and there is no drainage in the streets or sidewalks, resulting in large, muddy puddles that are unavoidable (particularly if you're daydreaming and walking at the same time). Cars smash through lake-sized puddles at top speed, sending giant tsunamis flying across the sidewalks, engulfing pedestrians in the process with brown-grey road water. Sheets of black ice lie in wait beneath tepid rivulets of melting snow for unsuspecting English teachers listening to their ipod and walking really fast to not be late for school because they were too busy cleaning their shoes.

It seems like a real uphill battle to keep my shoes clean during this awful muddy spring. Back in January the winter was so peaceful and beautiful but that has all changed into a squalor of filthy, oozing, sucking, seeping slime that covers everything, particularly shoes. In the event of a giant chasm opening up in the center of Moscow due to a never-before-discovered tectonic plate-shift, millions of people would die because, where normally one could use a good, clean pair of shoelaces to dangle over precarious heights, their shoes would be too dirty to grip and thus they would plummet into the crevice.

Only one thing can save me in Moscow: either some really hot, dry weather comes and clears up the disgusting cesspool of polluted muck that covers everything, or we manage to genetically breed "shoesters". I put my money on the rodents.

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