The Smell of the Place Alone

cobblers of oldI was in a bad mood last weekend, I’ll admit. It was the weather of course. People are so silly about the weather. What’s that old saying ? As a rule man’s a fool, when it’s hot he wants it cool. When it’s cool he wants it hot, always wanting what is not. True enough!

It was 41° on the Friday of that three-day weekend. Then six days later, it was 91°. “A 50° difference in less than a week!” we all exclaimed.

People whined like you wouldn’t believe.

I whined.  Here in our part of the country where the air is crisp enough it seems practically mentholated , most of us hadn’t even dragged out our window fans yet, never mind digging that dented and drooling boxhead of an AC unit up out of the basement.

Thus, the heat came as a shock to us all as we rummaged through closets for shorts and T-shirts and remembered for the first time in months why it is that people actually wear antiperspirant. We griped. It’s what we do.

I met a man at a book talk I gave once who told me he lived outside of the United States for 15 years and was only just now returning. “What do you notice most about Americans, now that you can look at your countrymen with fresh eyes?” I asked him.

“People complain! They complain about everything!” he said. “I couldn’t believe it at first.  It’s as if nothing is ever good enough.”

That shivered my timbers, I can tell you. I didn’t want to be one of those people.

So I got to considering: Maybe instead of griping, we should actually delight in the variety the world presents. Even the weather, aside of course from the terrifying and violent climatic swings such as the ones that have brought drought to Colorado and tornadoes to Oklahoma.

“I’d really like to try doing that,” I was thinking later that day as I walked into my local cobbler shop or “Shoe Hospital” as its owner has dubbed it.

Here, a young girl around 11 was munching on a chocolate chip cookie and chatting in familiar fashion with the proprietor.

“She must be one of his grandchildren,” I thought, so wide was the smile she flashed him as she ducked back out of the store.

“Is that your granddaughter?” “I asked as I handed over the ticket to reclaim  my newly reheeled boots.

“No,” he said. “She just comes in here all the time. She says she loves the smell of the place.”

“Ah!” said I. “The smell of leather, and shoe polish? Maybe the smell of the oil in these various machines?”

“Exactly,” he said handing me my boots.

“You know it wouldn’t kill you to polish these now and then,” he added with a wink.

I purchased a tin of saddle soap displayed there on the counter then and there,  took a whiff, sighed happily, and exited the shop one happy camper,  through with complaining for a good long while.

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5 thoughts on “The Smell of the Place Alone

  1. “Is that your grandson?” I asked my new neighbor as he walked by pushing a stroller. “No, he’s my son,” he replied. Oh dear, I’ve done it again.

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