If the shoe stinks, don’t smell it

My wife says I stink.

Really. She’s not even nice about it. Blunt. Mean.

“You stink,” she says.

It’s not the first time she’s said it. Now, I’d like to say I don’t know what she’s talking about. I’d like to say I don’t stink. But lately, I’ve noticed, that indeed I do. She’s right. I stink.

It’s not all my fault. It’s the weather’s fault. Specifically, it’s the fault of this overwhelming, unbearable humidity. Because each morning I run, I sweat. Pounds of the stuff. After just a few miles, I’m soaked in it. Drenched.

Tuesday, on just an easy five miler, I slowed along the highway to grab a plastic bag that was blowing along, and decided I might as well pick up some trash. So I began grabbing garbage and tossing in the bag, walking along, doing my civic duty. One problem. After a few stops, I smelled something awful. Something rotten. What was that? It was quite unpleasant. I stopped. I sniffed. The odor led straight to me. I was glad to see no one was within smelling distance, though I do believe car drivers passing by were rolling up windows and someone called to report toxic fumes.

There’s nothing I can do about it. Well, I could stop running and swim, but with the Kauai Marathon less than four weeks off, these are critical training days so I must run. At least when I get home (“Don’t come near me,” my wife says when I walk inside.) I can just clean up and I’m good to go.

But there is another problem.

My shoes. Yep, they stink.

In our lanai is a plastic bin filled with my running shoes. Nike, Asics, Brooks, Saucony, Fila. Cushioned trainers, lightweight, trails, racing flats. Yes, I love running shoes. Little brings me more joy than a new pair — or even a good used pair — of running shoes. So I have a lot of them.

It was just a few weeks ago, as I was about to lace up my Brooks Ghost shoes, I caught a whiff of them. Wooo. I tossed them aside.

“These shoes really smell,” I told my wife. “I better wash them.”

“You think?” she said, exasperation clearly in her voice. “It won’t do any good. It’s too late. You’ll never get that smell out.”

She suggested I throw them away.

Throw them away? Blasphemy. Like I could part with them after the miles we’ve shared together.

You runners, she continued, don’t know what you smell like when you’re done running. Why, after a race, like the Koloa Plantation Days 10 miler, she said the finish line area was like being in a gym and no one had showered.

We do? Geez. Who knew? And after the race, I interviewed a bunch of people, fellow runners, fortunately, and took pictures for the paper. None of them seemed to notice anything.

As for my shoes, well, I took out the inserts (I don’t recommend this without gloves), washed them, sprayed Lysol on them, hung them out on the line to air out. The next day, I sniffed. Ah. Beautiful. I smelled nothing.

I proudly collected them all off the line, marched in the house, much to my wife’s dismay, and dropped them on the carpet as I matched inserts and shoes.

“Good as new,” I announced.

“Please get those outside,” she said.

My wife just shook her head. She knew better.

A few days later, sitting in the lanai after a run, something rotten in the wind drifted my way. What the? I walked over to the bin of shoes and glanced in. Yeah, nothing there but old, clean, recently washed shoes. Then, I sniffed.

It really stinks when my wife is so right.

•••

Bill Buley is editor of The Garden Island. He can be reached at bbuley@thegardenisland.com

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