Tuesday, February 9, 2010

On Socks

Growing up, we had a basket that sat atop the dryer in the laundry room. It was filled with socks. Baby socks and daddy socks and fuzzy socks and ankle socks and slouchy socks and white(ish) socks and black socks. Socks and socks and socks.

Every month or so, my lovely mother would get the itch for Super Chore Saturday. So along with the usual dishes-mopping-vacuuming-variety-chores, the patio was to be cleaned off, the linens closet organized, and, the most dreaded chore of all: the sock basket's contents were to be sorted into mates.

It was a hellish job. Sure, you were the one who got to watch tv while doing your chore, but you were also the one stuck still doing your chore while everybody else had long finished and gotten on with their Saturday. And, worst of all, most of the socks just didn't have mates. The dryers and gym lockers of the world had swallowed up the mates whole. Even still, socks disappear into thin air. Today I throw those lonely socks away if the mate doesn't show up in the next round of laundry. But back then, my frugal father never allowed us to throw away a thing. He held out hope that one day the missing socks might return.

I seem to recall a single argyle knee sock (circa the decade prior to my birth) haunting the wonder years of my childhood.

You know where this is heading, I'm guessing. This sock story of mine. But then, maybe you don't fully understand. You see, I've been thinking how very like the mate-less sock basket the world views we singles to be. The well-meaning sock-matched people of the world want to empty that basket so they can go out and play. Nobody likes leftover socks. So they begin their matching attempts:

They'll put a blue sock with a black sock, and sometimes they pull it off in the right light: nobody sees the truth--the two aren't a perfect pair. And so the sock basket dwindles. Soon, the leftover socks start to look like some quirky modern art collection. The match-maker wonders, "When did I get so many strange socks?" And pretty soon they're desperate to just clean the basket out already. I mean, the sun is getting lower in the Saturday sky. They start mating a pink fuzzy house sock with a novelty pink Easter sock featuring a carrot. But while both socks might be pink, yes, who could stand to spend a day in such attire? But the match-maker wants that basket empty. They need to mate each sock. They get to the point of desperation. They think: well this fishnet thigh high is technically a sock, and that leg warmer from 1982 is sort of a sock, so surely this must work.

So the well-meaning people put the two together. And some poor fool spends an evening with a fishnet stocking on one ankle and a leg warmer on the other and it is every bit as awkward as you might imagine. And that same person returns the two to the mismatched sock basket atop the dryer later that evening. And in a couple of months, someone will try another desperate match. Meanwhile the other fishnet is hiding in the back of a drawer somewhere waiting to be discovered and reunited with its mate. And the other leg warmer? Well, with some socks, there just isn't any hope.


CSIowa said...

My mother had a stash of odd socks. I've never understood its utility. I prefer to send the lone sock right on up to its owner's drawer with the rest to carry on with life until its mate appears. If it never does, at least the sock has had a life of its own. Who wants to spend life waiting in a basket?

Shannon said...

I have sworn off match making for this very reason. I am the one who says, "that Nike sock would look fabulous with that black dress sock. In fact, they would compliment each other." In the meantime, the match maker looks like a tacky jerk, and the socks are mortified that the matchmaker stooped so low as to think they would EVER date a NIKE SOCK. So I've sworn it off. Because all TWO times I've tried setting people (ahem, the same person) up have been ultimate disasters. But it's those darn blind date success stories that keep a match maker all starry-eyed. So it isn't really our fault.
loved the metaphor. :)

InkMom said...

My mom was known to whip out the sock basket and force us to play word games for FHE activity while we sorted. Honestly? It wasn't too bad. It kept us talking to each other. So to continue the analogy . . . you should only "force" a match if you have a quorum present to do it?!? No? I didn't think so.

Stephanie said...

Hmmmm... there must be a story here. Let's hang out, so I can hear it!

Alice said...

I can't decide if i am the funky argyle sock that keeps heading back to the basket alone because here really is no match? Or maybe my perfect black sock mate has thoughtlessly mated with blue and soon he will come back the basket without her?

Please bless he isn't the easter sock with the carrot. I don't care much for rabbits.

Anonymous said...

I am aware that Utah Mormons feel that you are worthless if you aren't married, and that being married is such a desirable state that it hardly matters who it is with so long as they're temple-worthy. You don't have to encourage them, though.

I'd rather marry someone who was in it for me as much as I was in it for them. And not just someone who saw me as an out to their self-esteem problem.

(Fortunately, being autistic means that it'd take someone really dedicated to want to marry me anyway. After all, we're too weird and burdensome to have in any relationship. It's tragic to be married to us, just like it's tragic to have us as children. We're only good insofar as we can act like other Utah Mormons, and that isn't a lot. So we just all just roll over and die.)

Anonymous said...

Er ... sorry. >.>

Jen said...

I have vowed not to set people up any more for this very reason. Excellent post. The socks always look like they match to me, and then I get them together (well, only twice have I even tried) and apparently I didn't see the polka dots on one and the stripes on the other. Ugh. No more.

Wendy said...

LOVE IT! Thanks for the laugh. By-the-way...I have a sock basket now. I'm ashamed on many many levels! :)

Libby said...

What if you hate to wear socks? Then who is your match?!

Loved it. I'm sending this to my single friendlies so they too can enjoy it.

P.S. I'm guilty of "matching" up many wrong socks. I just like a clean sock basket. Crime or OCD?!

Anonymous said...

I CAN"T stand the idea of the sock basket. That is definitely one thing that I did not take with me from our house growing up. I make sure each sock is matched and I think in 16 years of marriage we have had less than 10 socks that do not match. If it don't match, THROW IT AWAY! Or better yet stuff a pillow with them. Do you remember that Christine? I do! You were a genius! If only the sock basket didn't fill right up again. Sock baskets are a waste of time and space. BLAH! Sock basket.

Kimmy said...

Awesome analogy. And you know I love a good analogy on dating or single-ness and the like. We had a sock basket growing up, too. I refuse to have one now. Perhaps because I subconsciously felt the mate-less-ness that those socks represent. I also refuse to keep tupperware containers that lose their lids or vice versa. It's not right to keep hoping it will turn up someday. Am I the fish net or the novelty sock? I can't decide.