The ventilation system above my desk has taken on an hypnotic, roaring quality, and I close my eyes in defeat. I want, desperately, to be anywhere but at work, or, for that part, in my own body.
A small sound catches my ear, and I turn around in time to witness Female Intern, hereinafter referred to as “Fi”, inspecting her feet.
So help me, she has taken off her shoes and is staring intently at her toes.
Our eyes meet, and we burst out laughing.
“Something smells over here,” she says, smiling the beatific smile of the young and spirited, “and it’s definitely my feet.”
There is a moment’s silence as we stare at each other, grinning. “Do you want my foot spray?” I ask her. I have taken my role as Experienced Office Worker seriously and now have on stock a can of organic chili, gum, a jar of peanuts, headache medicine, a powdered foot spray, and, for reasons that escape me at the moment, roughly 700 Starbucks napkins.
She considers my offer of the foot spray, shakes her head. “Nah,” she says. “But – Seriously. You don’t smell that, do you?”
Having raised a boy, I have been fooled many, many times by the “Hey, smell this” gambit, but life is all about risks, am I right? I am thinking that if Fi’s feet smell of anything it is probably cotton candy or puppies. I take a cautious sniff. “Sorry, no. I don’t smell anything from here.”
She sighs, sticks her nose in one shoe. “It’s criminal,” she says, finally, into the shoe. “Nothing should smell like this.” She puts them back on, an adorable pair of cloth slippers no doubt handcrafted by elves and left outside her bedroom door.
She smiles at me.
“I’m going to write about you, you know,” I say.
“About my feet?”
She grins. “My mom’s going to be so proud.”