Dirty Feet, by Candance Booth | Spring Cleaning

I did spring cleaning at Easter. After the usual weekly maintenance, I got around to a few obscure chores, like cleaning out my sock drawer. Why is it I have all these bright, turquoise gym socks, when all I’m ever hunting for is black trouser socks? I don’t even wear gym socks. It was a warm spring day, so I was wearing shorts and running around in bare feet. 

I washed the shower curtain liner next. After taking it out of the washer, I decided to let it drip dry inside the tub. I had to actually get into the tub to put the liner on the hooks, which left brown smudges from the dirt on the soles of my feet. And this suddenly reminded me of something I used to do when I was about eight years old. We went barefoot quite a bit all summer, and my Dad said we should wash our feet before getting into bed each night. Since I didn’t have to take a whole-body bath, I would sit on the counter and wash my feet in the sink. I found a peculiar enjoyment from seeing how dirty I could make the water. I would plug the drain and run about an eighth of an inch. The darker and more opaque the water, the more satisfying it was. I mentioned this to my husband, and he wanted to know if I shared the results with anyone—was there a contest with my brothers or something. But no, it seemed to be one of those self-   referral things. I just liked to see evidence of my dirt-collection capacity, I guess. Now I’m trying to figure out if I’m the only one who did this, and if I do it with other kinds of things. 

It was nice to have holiday time away from work. They’ve been reorganizing the managers and renaming all the departments. (Only they don’t call them departments, they call them groups, much the way today’s grocery store checkout clerks are called team members.) About once a week we get a change notice. For example, you are not an Information Technology research scientist. Instead you belong to the Crafts group. (I’m not making this up.) Or if you used to be a Technology Research support person (i.e. guy without a Ph.D.), now you are a Clearing House engineer. Why not do away with the words altogether. Just give people those little icon symbols. 

Another fun by-product of the reorganization is that I don’t know what the hierarchy is. I can’t tell if my boss can beat up your boss or not. Is the head of Clearing House a bigger cheese than the head of Crafts? (If it were spelled Krafts, then it would be clear.) It reminds me of those historical romance novels that keep throwing around the European land titles. When I’m reading those books, I’m always trying to figure out if a Countess is higher or lower than a Duchess. 

I found an interesting place on the Web where you can buy a UK title for only 50 pounds, and there are 2,000 to choose from.

Which sounds better, Duchess of Clearing House or Countess of Crafts? Actually, it’s a moot point, since I am not a permanent employee. I’m a contractor, and I don’t even get invited to the reorganization meetings. So I am just mentally fiddling around with dirty foot water. 

I’m doing spring cleaning in lieu of attending a posh wedding in New York City. My husband’s cousin got married in April. The service was held in a church on Park Avenue, and the bride’s invitation came from an address on Central Park West. I’m sure this was the kind of wedding where a guest was not out of place in a $200 hat and shoes by Christian Louboutin or Roger Vivier (basically Easter bonnets for the feet). For a day or two I really considered going. It would have made a great column. But in the end I knew that I didn’t have enough money for the air fare, time off from work, and new clothes. Never mind buying the appropriate gift. It’s not like you could go to such a wedding bearing a gift-wrapped freezer container. This is why it was odd to receive the following note from the bride: 

“Thank you so much for the place setting of our Haviland china. . . . It’s so nice to have relatives in Texas.” 

I’m thinking about letting the error slide, as we may have inadvertently earned ourselves future invitations to cocktails and a Broadway show. And in that way I may still be able to sit in a Park Avenue hotel and clean my dirty feet in a marble basin. 

During our Easter vacation, Dee decided to stay in his pajamas as long as possible. The daytime temperature hovered around 75, so he had lots of opportunity to feel a little damp around the edges before switching to some shorts. At one point he lay down on freshly changed sheets and stretched his arms out over his head. “P-U,” he said, “you don’t want to smell my armpits!” 

“The bathroom has been sanitized for your protection,” I said. 

“No,” he said, “I’m seeing how long I can go. I still have two days before I return to work.” 

Building himself a good puddle of dirty water. I can relate.      

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