Originally printed in Syracuse Family Times September 2004
The Perfect Mate
Discovering the secret to a great socks life
I loathe people that have sparkling white socks. They wear perfect mates, always suited to each other. These people are playing the rest of us for fools.
I was matching socks one day when it struck me that, as the days go by, socks look less and less alike. At the start of a new school year, I buy each of the children 12 pairs of socks, all exactly alike. If they lose one, they can mix and match.
The 15-year-old has plain white tube socks. The 14-year-old boy likes socks that barely come to the ankle, with gray on the heel and toes. The 13-year-old boy prefers socks that come up to the ankle, also with the gray heel-toe combo. My daughter gets plain white ankle socks plus a package of colored socks.
About a month later, when we can afford it again, they each get another 12 pair. With 24 pair of identical socks, they should have socks available for months to come. Not in this house.
The boys like to save time by washing their whites and colors together. Depending on what else is in the load, they may end up with gray, blue, pink or red socks. If a sock gets a pink tinge, and it’s mate gets a gray tinge because it was fooling around in a different load, well, that doesn’t make for successful mating.
The 14-year-old used to wear his socks to bed. He would wake up in the morning wearing only one sock. He didn’t seem to realize it. Eventually, he would venture outside for something, wearing that one sock (and no shoes of course). This sock would get filthy.
It’s mate, however, relaxed under the bed for a few months retaining it’s glistening beauty. It now no longer matches any of the other socks in the household.
Spring comes, and with it, mowing the grass. My honey makes a stunning discovery. Over the winter it had snowed socks. Three of them were found, in various stages of filth and decay.
We recovered several more socks from behind the old dryer. They were full of dust and lint and barely recognizable.
Five more socks were found hiding out in my car. They, too, were beyond cleaning. Who in their right mind removes their socks in the car? They may have been barely recognizable, but they were too small to be mine!
We have a basketful of old socks; I can’t bare to part with them. What if I find a sock lurking in the shadows that has the same shade f pink-red as the one in the basket? A perfect match.
What about that gray thing in there? I swear I saw the mate somewhere. Honestly, we haven’t found a perfect match out of that basket in months.
I used to baby-sit for two children who always wore matching, snow-white socks. These kids were at my house all day, playing in the sandbox, jumping on the trampoline, and playing baseball in their socks. When they left here, their socks rivaled my kids’ for sleaziness.
Each morning, they would arrive with their pearly white socks adorning their feet. I asked their mother how she kept them so clean. She rattled off some name-brand detergent.
I tried it. Really, I did. I scrubbed them with an old toothbrush. I soaked them overnight in the detergent. You would think that after hanging out together for more than 12 hours, one of those socks would have found the perfect mate. Out of 28 socks, when they exited the dryer, no two looked the same.
The mother had lied. What an awful example to her children. I believe she is what I call a “habitual sock-buyer,” and she’s trying to cover her tracks.
I can see it now, Friday nights, she tears apart sock drawers, furiously throwing away any and all foot coverings that show signs of previous wear. Then she whisks the kids off to the mall to purchase new socks.
When she gets home, she carefully inserts the socks into individual Baggies, one pair for each day of the week. Exhausted after a long night of sock buying, she falls into a slumber and dreams of mountains of white socks glistening in the sun.
It seems like a lot of work to me, but so is searching for socks day after day, searching for that perfect mate, which has strayed elsewhere. I think I’ll gather up that basket of old socks, toss it in the trash and become a habitual sock-buyer. That way, I will finally look like a Super Mom and my socks will always have the perfect mate.
...more to come. Unfortunately, all my articles were once available online, but now they aren't, so I have to retype them. YUK!