I had two early court dates this morning, in two cases where I represent plaintiffs in trademark infringements. Amazingly, and quite coincidentally, they were scheduled an hour apart in the same courthouse, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan. So in addition to the blue pinstripe Brooksease suit, I decided to go whole-hog and wear my Court Shoes, the Aldens with the extra-heavy hard soles lined by a thick Republican welt. These puppies are full wing tips, my lads, not those girly curvy little wingers that drop out on you half way back to the heel like on my everyday Florsheims, you hear? Yes, the steel shanks set off the metal detectors, but this seemed like the morning to go crazy.
Now not everything started out perfectly. First I had to get up super early, because the first conference was scheduled for a punitive 8 AM. I left Clifton at 5:30 so I could get to the office in time for morning prayers, prep and leaving cushions for disasters, but not before realizing these shoes needed serious attention — which I was not going to get before court. Still, they would manage, on the merits. I had a cold-sweat moment in the Lincoln Tunnel, realizing I had brought the wrong keys, but after furrowing my brow and analyzing all the alternative courses of action including breaking down the internal door to my own law firm, I realized I had, ta-da!, a spare set in my briefcase. Wow.
Traffic was a breeze at that hour — I felt like king of the city whizzing cross town around 6! — and I was ensconced at my place on 42nd Street by 6:15.
I got everything I needed taken care of here and headed onto the 5 train express downtown at a quarter after seven, even having time to scarf down an H&H Bagel bagel at my desk first. Got to court 15 minutes early, greeted my out-of-town adversary on the front steps, and the conference went off more or less as expected (i.e., a fairly spineless judge got pushed around and my adversaries lied through their teeth).
Conference number two was a little less intense, except for the judge making us sit an entire half hour before coming out on the bench. It was worth the wait — he immediately provided my adversary new accommodations for lower-GI evacuation, giving me a good report to take to my angel-like client in that particular case. I skipped out of court (okay, well, figuratively; we do not skip), retrieved my BlackBerry from the stern blue-blazer boys in the U.S. Marshal’s office, and flipped it on as I bounded toward the subway. God had placed not one but two very happy emails in the ether for me, and my handheld snagged them and provided me with their appealing company as I descended into cool underground station at Foley Square.
Now back uptown, and to deal with the shoes.
I knew what I wanted. Since I left the snazzier part of midtown, I haven’t found a good, regular shoe-shine place along my commuting path. Now that spring was here, surely the guy in front of Grand Central would be the way to go? I sat down on what was now a perfectly sunny spring day and let him to his worst, as he commented to me about the “high level of talent” on 42nd Street this morning, and warned me not to look at the shoes directly in the sun after he was through without proper eyewear.
He finished the shine, and I asked him what the damage was. To my surprise, it was a cool five-spot — a very expensive shoe shine, considering that most places in the City still charge $3 or maybe $4. I was also not blown away by the gloss, frankly. With the tip, the same amount of tip I would have given on a $3 shine, now we’re talking $7 for a good but not great shine. The front of Grand Central guy was not going to be my answer. Perhaps I would have to stick for now with the boys in the Port Authority, who do at least as good a job for a buck less and usually throw in some excellent improvisational comedy that gives me the rare opportunity to play straight man.
But the shoes do look better, even if they don’t throw off photons like black neon as I would like them to, and it was a heck of a good start to the morning on a day that looks as if it could be the real beginning of climatic spring. What’s not to love?
UPDATE: These shoes were really starting to look as if they had been worn hard by a hard-shoe-wearing-in-a-hard-shoe-wearing-place man, and in July of 2011 I sent them to Alden for another round of restoration.
This was all she wrote: