Something Came Up | Issue 16

Something Came Up | Issue 16

I like to pick at things

Human bits. Pimples, hairs, dry skin, scabs. Peeling skin can keep me happy for hours.

I liked to pick at the soft white skin between my toes. Until it bled. Then my dad discovered me absorbed in my toes. Disbelief, disgust and a dawning realisation that I was probably the source of his smelly feet. Then followed much dabbing with purple dye. Which was quite enlightening for me. I had regarded the dabbing on of purple paint to my parents respective belly buttons while they lay in the bath as some sort of adult ritual. Gentian Violet, the purple paint, was the only available antifungal medicine. It was, dad said, a fungus growing between my toes. Which was confusing to me, as the only fungi I knew of was mushrooms. I assumed the mushrooms were so young they were foetal like. It certainly motivated me to splash the liquid on. Maybe I went a bit too far in painting all of my toes, legs and torso, and the all important belly button, with stomach and chest as well to be sure I got the lot, using up the family supply.

SPORES, said dad. SPORES! Chucking vast quantities of white powder in my shoes. It looked like fertiliser. 

The trail of white powder that dribbled out of my shoes gave me the fresh off the farm look. “Athlete’s foot” they said. Which was somewhat shocking as I was not at all sporty. I looked forward to doing better at the 100 meter sprint. “Foot rot” they called it at school. I worried about being put through the yards with the sheep. My brother told me I had foot and mouth and would need to be drenched with the sheep. It  came from the swimming pools, I was told, and apparently it does! In the little puddles of water around the pool! The spores float around in it, waiting for my feet, and then swim between my toes, cling to the skin, and grow into fungi! Magic mushrooms! My grandfather had yet another name for it. Trench foot! “It’s caused”, he said, “by having wet shoes in trenches”. It can be cured by drying properly between your toes.  Dry toes was the only remedy. Apparently being “moist” is not a good thing for all body parts...

I still get it. The fungi/trench/athlete’s foot/rot. I know its proper name. Tinea pedis. I blame my flat mates. I sniff their feet and shoes (the foetal fungi are smelly like most infants). I sprinkle the fertiliser in their shoes and tell them they must do this for four weeks or until their lease expires, whichever comes later. I give them fungicidal cream. As opposed to fungistatic. I’m quite proud of knowing the difference. Although It’s quite obvious. One means “kills”, and the other “stops from breeding”. Now the spores live in the showers and on the bathroom floor. My flat mates are hopeless. I put their smelly gym shoes through the wash when I can sneak them in, and dry and powder them. But they can’t seem to remember to clean the shower with a chlorine bleach every day after a shower. I’ve set up notices, and given them daily text reminders. I’ll keep up my powder and cream. I’m thinking of wearing gum boots in the shower.

Anyone want a fungal-free flat mate?

This article first appeared in Issue 16, 2016.
Posted 11:55am Sunday 24th July 2016 by Isa Alchemist.