Office Secret Santa’s, they’re a kind of enforced fun, I guess. I partake annually and usually receive chocolates or a stationery set or something – my co-workers seem to receive a mixture of similarly bland gifts, but the odd interesting novelty gift. I always try to make an effort on gifts.

The young lady whose name I drew this year seems thrilled with the book I got her from the TV series she never seems to shut up about. So, that’s nice.

Much hilarity as another women opens hers to find a pair of Ann Summers handcuffs. I try not to face palm too hard, vanillas and their soft kink. Bless them. I don’t want to sound like I’m kinkier-than-thou than them, but, this type of thing seems acceptable – though – many of my kinks wouldn’t quite be approved in the same way.

My turn. My co-workers leer round, making the occasional jibe of what could be inside it.
The package is small and a bit squishy.
“Small, soft and squishy” heckles one, “Seems someone knows you”
They got a disapproving look from one of the managers, but then it laughed off.

“It’s probably socks” came another heckler.
“Probably,” I chimed back – as I began to peel off the wrapping paper.

There’s looks of confusion as it opens. It is socks, inside a sealed jiffy bag, pink gym socks – and they’re dirty…

Inner monologue is running, “What the fuck is going on? Who knows?”
While outside I’m a bit, “Ohhhh…. Kay…”

“Hold it up, give us a look,” shouts someone.

I slowly hold up the bag of quite dirty socks, “Not sure I’ll be able to wear these at Christmas,” I joke, trying to defect attention away.

“The colour suits you,” comes a heckle
“You might want to give them a wash first,” comes another

This continued with many comments, the attention clearly been on what I’d received and not who I’d received them from.
Who DID I receive them from?!

As the rabble died down, eventually someone did come up with words I was afraid to hear, “Maybe he’s one of those weirdos into feet”
Plenty of sniggers go around.

This is going to stick, isn’t it?
And nobody is going to defend me for fear of also being branded “weird”.

Eventually the co-ordination is taken away from me as a “Show’s over” kinda thing is ushered and the next person opens their gift.

I was distracted for the rest of the afternoon, luckily it was the last working day before Christmas, so there wasn’t loads to do – but my mind was wandering over whose they were or where they came from.
Of course, nobody could pass my desk without sniggering or making a passing comment. Mostly the men in the office, but a couple of women who made bad attempts to hide their giggling.
I was stumped. Did someone buy these off the internet? Is it one of the womens? Is it a guy playing tricks? And among anything else : how did they know?

It’s undeniably humiliating. My attempts to brush it off clearly didn’t work and some comments are getting worse – I’m trying to concentrate and get a whisper in my ear “So it’s not just Santa who likes to empty his sack in stockings?”
I look up, it’s the woman who received the novelty handcuffs – she walks off.
This makes things so much worse. Was it her? Is she actually vanilla or did someone knowingly get her something? Would I look a prize fool asking if it was her? So, so, confusing!

Home time couldn’t come quick enough. Even then I’m torn between leaving with everyone else or staying back. Leaving opens things up to so many more comments. I thought I’d be into humiliation, but this style just wasn’t what I expected.

I stay at my desk. Bad move. It feels every single person who walks past has something to say, whether a common jibe or something like I “thought you wouldn’t be able to rush to get home to smell those”
“You don’t normally stay late,” says one, a colleague replies “Maybe he wants us all gone so he can knock one out in the loos”

No, I can’t take it. I log off and head out as quickly as I can, push through trying to drown out and ignore comments.

Checking the bus stop, too many of my co-workers are there, I quickly think of a diversion to avoid them. I walk to the previous bus stop on the route and let the first bus go, as they’ll all get that.
I let the second bus go, just for safety.
The next bus is of course late, Chirstmas traffic. The stop isn’t sheltered and I’ve been here 30 minutes, a cold rain comes down to add to my misery.
40 minutes, 50 minutes.

By the time a bus comes I’m thankful as I climb on, cold, wet and shivering after a deeply humiliating afternoon.

I get home, feeling like I’ve never been so cold in my life.
At least it’s a few days off work. I dump my bag down, switch my computer on.

Oh. A few ribbing comments on my Facebook from co-workers, at least I can block them there if it gets too much.

I sit down, reflecting, trying to make head nor tail over whose they are or who they came from – overthinking too many tedious details.

It is such a headfuck.

“What a day,” I sigh to myself.

I then think, there is one thing left to do.

Nervously, I go over to my bag and pull out the jiffy bag containing the socks.

I take them to my desk and sit down. I examine the bag from the outside, there’s no redeeming features to them. Just, pink sports socks probably used in a gym.

I slowly open the jiffy bag. Oof. The smell hits my nostirls immediately. I quickly reseal it.
Ooh, that’s strong. These weren’t just worn on a treadmill one afternoon, someone has put effort into this.

I open again, this time being prepared for the stench I savour it slowly. The aroma is strong but so sweet. I cannot help myself I can feel I’ve gone immediately hard at this.

I slowly lift one of the socks out of the bag, it’s slightly damp – it’s still sweaty.
At this point the thought of not knowing whose they are adds an extra piece of excitement rather than distraction.
I wonder if someone is enjoying the fact I’m enjoying their socks not knowing it’s theirs.

The smell is overpowering me slowly and I’m forgetting about my afternoon of Hell and descending into a slow Heaven.

I’m distracted as my phone pings with a fetlife notification.
New message.
Question mark profile pic.
Subject line.
“Hope you’re enjoying the socks xxxxx”

Perhaps it’s not going to be a bad day after all…