I know. Socks might seem to be a strange thing to write a blog post about. Then again, I have written before about fluffy dressing gowns, sheepskin bootees, and walking clothes. So mundane clothing posts are not that unusual here.
Over the years, I have come to realise that socks are things with a will of their own. Like some pets, they can be brought into the home, but after that, do pretty much whatever they want. For many years, I only wore plain socks. Then I discovered that pairs are not always what they seem, and two pairs of black socks can look very different once they have been in the wash. So I began to buy the type with identifiable markings, hoping to keep the pairs together.
Some have coloured heels and toes, others small motifs or logos on the sides. Seasonal gifts also provide easily identifiable socks, with Santa or reindeer on them, or occasionally birthday greetings. I even have a pair of Valentine socks, with hearts applied on each side. Given that preparation, you would think that it would be easy enough to keep them in pairs, wouldn’t you?
But the socks have different ideas. They have had decades to develop their talents.
Empty a washing basket, and load the contents into the machine. As soon as it has started, you can guarantee that you will find a single sock somewhere between the bedroom and the kitchen. It will be relaxing in plain sight on the floor somewhere, having decided that it is not going to be washed that day, whether you like it or not. So you put it somewhere that you will remember. Once the washing has finished, you intend to return the clean sock to its partner, and wash both again. But when you go to that place you remembered to leave it, you can be sure that it will be gone. It will have gone to that place where socks go, a place unknown to the owners of the mischievous footwear.
At least you still have plenty of socks in that load in the machine. When it is finished, you either put them into the tumble drier, or hang them out on the line, weather permitting. Whatever you decide, you are just allowing the socks to continue to carry on developing their skill of escapology. They could teach Houdini a thing or two, that’s for sure. When the tumble drier has finished, you will be sure to examine all the nooks and crannies for any escapees. Content that you have everything in your arms, you go back into the bedroom to sort through the dry washing.
Sure enough, you are missing at least one matching sock, sometimes more. Retracing your steps is normal, but always fruitless. If you are very lucky, you might spot one sock on the floor, or perhaps find one still clinging to the drum in the washing machine, like a limpet on a rock at the seaside. If socks had a voice, they would be laughing. And if they had a mouth, they would be grinning. To them it is a game, I am certain of that.
Let’s assume that you have recovered all the socks. Dry and clean, they are arranged on a surface to be put into pairs, and stored back in the wardrobe or drawer. You are pleased with yourself, and with good reason. No socks have escaped today. No more single socks will relax in your storage, content in the knowledge that they will never be worn again. They are all paired up, and you are ready to tidy them away. But then you notice that one blue-tipped sock is actually paired with a green-tipped partner. How did that happen? Where are the other two that make these into pairs? No amount of searching will help you to find them. They are just gone, pure and simple.
In the great game of Man versus the Sock, the socks are once again victorious.
I have just had to accept that this is a battle that can never be won. The socks are just too good at what they do. At least for the four months of the summer, I don’t have to wear any.