Wedding Bell Blues

I want you to close your eyes, lean back in your chair, touch your fingertips together, somewhat as Sherlock Holmes would, and imagine the following scenario. Concentrate really hard!

All the miners in South Africa come off shift, and take off their socks, then put them into a giant vat. After this giant vat is full of aforesaid socks, it is put on the back of a truck and taken out to Phalaborwa, where it is left to stand in the baking sun for two weeks. Now, in your imagination, take the top off and try and imagine the stench. Keep it fresh in your mind, because it has a bearing on the story which follows.

Tracy Linkman was not pretty, never had been. Even as a little girl, when the other girls were cute as buttons, she was not pretty. What she was, was heart-stoppingly beautiful. She had shoulder-length honey blonde hair, blue eyes with brown flecks, eye-lashes that would put a giraffe to shame and a pert, slightly upturned nose with a light dusting of freckles that spoke of a girl who’d spent a lot of time outdoors.

She had a generous, slightly wide mouth, with a full, sensuous lower lip, all of this in a perfectly symmetrical face, atop a long neck, broad shoulders, a Marilyn Monroe body, and long, exquisitely long legs. She was a painter’s dream! She was also thirty-two and unmarried.

The reason she was unmarried was because when she opened her mouth to reveal teeth so perfect that they had to have been the work of the best dentists, and weren’t, her breath smelt somewhat the way that vat would when you took off the lid.

Men who didn’t know her considered her shy because, when they spoke to her, their hearts aching at the beauty of her, she smiled, ducked her head and moved on. She was not considered an ice-queen; she was considered shy.

Until they found out the cause of her supposed shyness, then steered clear.

One day, a mother skunk came out with her little skunklings, and they were so cute that Tracy stopped and said, ‘Oh, aren’t you just adorable?!’

They surveyed her in the serious way young animals will and, when she was out of sight, the mommy turned to her skunklings and said, ‘If you’re good, and you eat all your vegetable and the little worms I give you, you’ll smell like that when you grow up.’

‘Wow, mom, really?!’ they chorused excitably. They hadn’t known an odour of that sort could exist outside of their world, but here it was! They scurried off into the bushes, determined to be good little skunklings from here on out.

Tracy, on the other hand, was miserable. Her job involved working with figures, so she didn’t have to talk much and, when she did, she kept her face averted. Yet they still sprayed the room with toilet spray after she left.

She was lonely: even her family kept her at arm’s length and one day decided she’d had enough and booked an appointment with a specialist. There had to be some way to treat this malady.

She sat waiting in the waiting room for her turn to go in, flipping through the magazines, smiling politely at people who greeted her, then finally went in when it was her turn. She sat down in the chair and started to tell the doctor her problem. He said, ‘Just a moment.’ And left the room. He came back a moment later wearing a surgical mask.

‘Okay, you don’t have to tell me your problem,’ he said in a muffled voice. ‘I know what it is but, more importantly, I know how to fix it.’ Her face brightened and his heart melted, but his resolve hardened. ‘I can fix it, but not cure it. This is what you’re going to have to do.’

He wrote out an entire diet sheet for her, including different toothpastes and mouthwashes and natural products she could use, but all it would do, really, was keep it at bay, for as much as half a day.

She changed her diet, brushed her teeth with two kinds of toothpaste, rinsed her mouth out with a particularly potent mouthwash, then chewed parsley and mint and took chlorophyll tablets three times a day.

This became her daily regimen, and it worked. People stopped avoiding her, but men still cleared well clear of her.

Until Joe Minetti joined the company and had no idea of her history. Joe was what you would call pleasantly ugly; the kind of man women wanted to mother.

His shirt was always coming out, he smiled and laughed a lot and had a bashful grin. Think Woody in Cheers. He saw Tracy and fell head over heels in love and started seriously wooing her right there and then.

But he had his own secret. His feet smelled like he was wearing a pair of socks out of that vat.


Fortunately, unlike halitosis, it’s a lot easier to hide, so very few people, his parents and gym partners aside, had any idea. His parents insisted he wash his feet the moment he took his socks off, and not come into general company till he had.

His gym buddies, being blokes, laughed and made gagging noises while he went off to the showers.

What they didn’t know, was that he put aftershave on his feet, sprayed them with tea tree oil, and poured Happy Feet into his socks until it almost leaked out. That was after scrubbing his feet with a nailbrush and using special perfumed soap between his toes.

Still he managed to keep it hidden from Tracy and she quickly grew to love him, while he was head over heels with her. But both of them kept these dark secrets from each other. They also never slept together, for fear of their secrets being exposed.

Then one day Joe came in, looking all bashful, and walked up to Tracy’s desk. He had his hand in his pocket. He knelt down, pulled out a box and opened it, to reveal a dazzling ring. ‘Tracy, will you marry me and make me the happiest man in the world?’

Tears sprang unbidden to her eyes and she threw her arms around his neck. ‘Of course I will!’ she said, fiercely. All the women were oohing and aahing and saying how beautiful it was and how richly she deserved it, having forgotten, by this time, Tracy’s problem.

In the chaos that surrounds the planning of any wedding, their problems were temporarily forgotten, although they both stuck rigorously to their routines, managing to hide these dark and smelly secrets from each other.

Time flew by in a whirl and Tracy was an absolute picture at her wedding. Justifiably dressed in white, she was even more breathtakingly beautiful than usual. The Paparazzi would have been there if they’d know how beautiful she was.

Late that evening, while the wedding guests were still having a high old time, Tracy and Joe made their excuses and their way to their hotel suite: the Bridal Suite.

They got to their room and kissed, then Joe said, ‘Do you mind if I change first? I want to see you come out of the bathroom in all your glory!’

She giggled in anticipation. ‘Of course not!’

He went into the bathroom and changed into his pyjamas, then went to work on his feet. After fifteen minutes of scrubbing and perfuming, he held his foot up under his nose. He sniffed deeply, and could smell nothing. ‘That should last the night,’ he muttered, then went back into the bedroom, gasping at the sight of Tracy in a negligee.

She got up and waggled her fingers at him. ‘Be with you now, lover boy.’ And winked lasciviously. Joe was so excited he could hardly breathe.

Tracy removed her makeup and then got to work on her mouth. She started brushing her teeth and going through the entire process, then stopped. ‘He’s going to find out sooner or later,’ she thought. It’s better if I tell him before he finds out.

She finished brushing her teeth and went to sit on the edge of the bed. She took his hand and said, ‘Joe, there’s something I have to tell you.’

He held up a hand to stall her. ‘Don’t tell me, let me guess – you ate my socks.’