A Short Story Made Long, or, you may need some sorbet to wash the taste of this one out of your mouth.
A few weeks ago we moved all our files and blueprints and tasteful desk accessories to a new office, which is in the back of my boss's new house. The office is nice. It's cosy and well lit with twenty-four halogen bulbs that cost $12.95 each (which I know because I've already had to replace two of them), and the slate floor has radiant heat so it's always miraculously toasty.
I spent the summer working out of our bookkeeper's hot, windowless conference room while waiting for the new home/office to be finished. One might think that leaving a busy, girly, candy-filled office for a woody private hermitage would be an isolating experience, but there is still so much work being done on the house, inside and out, that I'm always hearing workmen clomp past my open door, which overlooks a redwood deck which overlooks a pile of dirt, an unfinished fire pit, a buttload of bougainvillea, and a brick wall. If you strain your neck you can peek at the sea. If everyone shuts off their Skil saws you can hear it, too.
One huge perk I get from working in a private home is that I can do laundry while I work. Living where we do, in a small apartment without a washer and dryer, you can't imagine what we spent every month getting laundry done ($250). Now, I just pop up from my chic office chair every hour or so and take myself off the clock to put in another load and do a little folding. It beats cigarette breaks.
To get to the laundry room you cut through the guest bathroom, which has two doors, one that opens out onto the deck and one into the house. But yesterday the deck-side door to the bathroom was closed and a pair of Hobbity suede work boots was sitting outside the door with woolly socks sticking out of the tops.
If you're aware of my recent encounter with empty shoes in a bathroom, you, like I, would've been immediately suspicious. So I took the long way around and got into the laundry room through the front door, did my loading and folding, and took the long way back around to the office. When I rounded the corner to the deck, the young hippie/craftsman who'd been sanding beams out front all morning was sitting on the steps in front of me, pulling on his woolly socks and his I-have-chosen-the-peaceful-path-of-working-with-my-hands suede workboots.
It takes roughly an hour for the washer and dryer to go through their cycles, so after an hour I got up and walked down the deck to cut through the bathroom. What slapped me in the face was the first wave of humid wall of bean tortilla hippie craftsman shit smell that enveloped my whole being like a cloud of suffocating death. It had been sealed in there for an hour, ripening, and as I stood there in shock the second wave showed me its subtle strength, flaring its nostrils like a slightly irritated African god.
I actually managed to think two things while I held my breath and opened every available window and door to release the organically grown stench. The first thing I flashed on was growing up with two older brothers and a dad who would do the exact same hideous thing, except they'd leave the bathroom door open an inch so the smell would slowly contaminate the rest of the house, and the second was, What's the fucking deal with taking off your shoes when you poop?