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Katy’s Korner: A smelly situation

Katy Hutson | Staff Columnist

Dear Katy,

I have a problem that has been lingering in my apartment since school started. I recently moved in with a new friend, and that friend has VERY smelly feet. Whenever their shoes come off, I barely have enough time to get out of the room and open the windows. Imagine a compost bin and a skunk had a rotten child. It is THAT bad. Please help! It is winter soon and I can only keep opening the windows for a little bit. Thanks!
—Opposing Odious Odors

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 12.25.11 AMIllustration by Josh Zucker

Dear Opposing,

Seems like a real stinker of a problem. Yes, I hate me, too. So, I understand that you’ve been opening the windows to air out the feet. If I had to guess, as I am also a member of the rank feet club, your friend—we’ll call him Funky Frank—has olfactory fatigue, or he is so accustomed to the smell of his feet that he doesn’t even notice it anymore. An innocent culprit with a smelly problem. Now that window-opening is not a sustainable solution with weather and whatnot, you need a more long-term solution. I vote for killing the problem at its core. I’m not suggesting you cut off Funky Frank’s feet, but I’m coming close.
From extensive and laborious research, I’ve found that baking soda, alcohol or fire are your only options. Baking soda is a common do-it-yourself way of getting rid of odor, so you could hypothetically sneak into your friend’s room in the dead of night and pour baking soda over all his shoes and his feet. If he suspects you as the baking soda culprit, vehemently claim that he sleepwalks, then use this excuse for whatever you want for the rest of your cohabitation.
If you didn’t know already, feet smell is caused by a buildup of bacteria on people’s feet and in their shoes. One way to kill bacteria is alcohol. Now, what makes sense is to soak everything in rubbing alcohol, but this seems too insulting in your situation. No one wants to be told they’re so gross you want to pour rubbing alcohol all over them. It could be phrased as a kink, but that’s still not quite applicable. To spare Frank’s feelings, I suggest at the next function you co-attend with hard alcohol present (assuming you are of age), “accidentally” poor a considerable amount of liquor onto his person. Really focus on the feet, but honestly, an alcohol bath never hurt anybody. Obviously, just claim to be extremely inebriated and, I don’t know, do his laundry or something.
If you don’t like those options, burn his shoes. A giant bonfire, a sacrifice to the feet gods, a primal symbol of your domination of this relationship. When the time comes, fake a break-in and just say, “they must have really liked your shoes?” Steal his wallet for good measure.
I forgot to mention one other solution. Simply kindly ask him to be considerate where he is taking off his shoes. Maybe he just needs to wait until he is in his room and has shut the door before taking them off. You could buy him a sealable shoe bin for the shoes and a can of Febreze for his now-naked feet. This might be a little more confrontational, but it would probably garner better long-term results. You could just move out, but that seems too extreme to me. I’m also sure that if you put on a mask as he entered the room he would get the hint. That would be more than a little rude, though. Good luck in your olfactory travels; may your nose only smell the sweet scents of baking soda and alcohol from now on.