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Point of View: Always Be Sniffing

Wed, 03/27/2024 - 18:06

As I write, our office has been uninhabitable the last few days, the boiler having given up the ghost. I said at our Zoom meeting yesterday, when the matter came up, that I rather liked noxious fumes, having grown up in the ’50s in Pittsburgh where my mother swept the soot off our suburban porch every day.

Despite that confession — “and, oh ye refineries! I writhe, and lift my nose into your sweet fragrance!” — I’m here now, alone I think, with the windows wide open upstairs and an inspiriting cross draft that speaks of spring, and thinking that on my deathbed I might say I didn’t spend enough time at the office. No, no, strike that. It’s just that when I’m at the office I know I’m working, that the meter’s running, that I’m keeping the home fires burning. It’s a good feeling.

Speaking of work, it’s hard to strictly account for one’s time when one likes what one does — when work is play and play, play that requires concentration at any rate, is work. I try, nevertheless, to be as honest as possible when filling out my weekly time sheet.

It’s probably fair to say that I’m playing more at working now and working more at playing. None of us, or precious few of us in our doubles tennis cohort, can move anymore, though I’ve been known to say I feel like a teenager on speed when matched against some of my opponents. The other day, I heard one of our number say that Jack could still move, and replied that the only part of me that could still move were my bowels. And they rather frequently, necessitating trips to Costco to buy hinoki, ginger, and water lily Febreze in bulk.

Speaking of smells — not that of madeleines, I’ll admit — I’m reminded on this springlike day that it’s neatsfoot season, that time of year when overwintered baseball gloves used to be rubbed down with heady neatsfoot oil and folded around a ball. Anticipation is all.

O’en, our non-retrieving retriever, is enthralled by olfactory effluvia the year round. Soon, I, like him, will be sniffing the air too, and, also like him, I won’t be able to get enough of it.


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