How Your Attitude Towards Socks Acts As A Rorschach Test Of Emotional Functionality. Yup. Yuppers.

Do you see what I see?

There are 2 kinds of people in the world:  those to whom life is an adventure to be seized and savored, and those who hold on to orphaned socks.

I keep mine in a laundry bag under my bed.

My sock bag contains:

  • 1 chunky, green, knit Christmas reindeer sock with a hole in the heel.
  • 10 basic, black trouser socks whose slightly different tone-on-tone patterns would be glaringly obvious in the cold, fluorescent light of an office day.
  • Enough mismatched hospital socks with the built-in rubber treads to indicate we’re not as healthy as I like to think.
  • More white cotton tube socks and tennis footies than I can count.  I swear they multiply in the dark.

This inventory doesn’t even include our kids’ socks.  The girls have moved up and out, but their orphans remain.

Every couple of months, while folding laundry on my bed on a Saturday morning, I get out the bag and play matchmaker.  Sometimes I call “good enough” on the footies -who sees them peeking out of tennis shoes?  Occasionally I decide my pants will hide the differences on the trouser socks.  But these are arranged marriages; an honest-to-goodness match is rare.  When that happens I feel an unreasonable thrill of accomplishment.  The newly reunited couple goes two-by-two with their matched-up brethren into my sock drawer ark, while the orphans go lonely back to their dusty hiding place.

My mom kept her mismatches in a basket permanently stationed on the farm table in the basement where she folded laundry.  The contents of that basket didn’t change one bit from my childhood until the folks sold the family home some years ago.  There was a well-darned muslin specimen at the bottom of the basket which probably came over from Ireland with my mom’s great-great-grandmother 150 years ago.  It’s at the bottom of my sock bag now, passed on like bread starter from home to home.

I started thinking about this topic because a friend posted on Facebook that she threw out all of her unmatched socks.

It’s almost inconceivable.  To throw them away… ALL of them?  A person who could do that could do anything.   They could quit their 9-5 job, write the book they always meant to, or hike the Appalachian Trail.  The sky’s the limit for someone with that kind of daring!

That could be me, I thought.  I could get rid of my orphan socks.  I could march to the trash can right damn now, throw them all in, and not even save them for rags.   There’s nothing to stop me – I could DO it!

The enormity of what I was considering struck me like an avalanche and left me quivering with anxiety.  It took hours of rocking in a fetal position cradling an empty coffee can before I felt calm again. (I’ve got a huge stash of coffee cans in the basement – you never know when you might need one.)

Holding on to orphaned socks may indicate I have a pitiful need for security and routine that manifests itself as an unnatural attachment to things.

Or not.

An alternative interpretation is that I’m an eternal optimist.  Maybe, instead of a neurotic psycho, I’m a hopeless romantic always looking for a happy ending.

I’d better not rush into anything with the socks.  Who knows?  After I’m dead and gone my kids might finally find the mate to my rainbow-striped toe sock.  I’ve been holding onto it  since 6th grade.


About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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54 Responses to How Your Attitude Towards Socks Acts As A Rorschach Test Of Emotional Functionality. Yup. Yuppers.

  1. Holly says:

    Part of me wants to send you a picture of my orphaned sock pile (okay, drawer) in solidarity, and the greater part of me realizes it’s not worth turning on the lights at this hour for such an underwhelming response. That said… I love this, and all of your writing, and I think maybe now I’ll be able to at least halve my sock pile — I KNOW! So daring. But, I think many of my socks are running away together rather than abandoning their matches, so I think it may be justified to just purchase a few extra pairs of new socks. Thank you for opening my eyes to more of the little things we “just do” without stopping to consider whether it’s worth our effort. And thank you for not judging those of us with giant orphaned sock piles from decades ago. Love ya, Peg!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. All my daughter seems to have is arranged sock marriages. It would drive me crazy, but she is perfectly happy that way. There is a store in one of the Disney parks that only sells mismatched socks. I bought her some for Christmas. It was the perfect gift for her.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Meryl says:

    My youngest granddaughter wears mismatched socks all the time. You can’t talk her out of it. I keep the unmatched socks a few months, and if the mate never appears, throw them in the bag for the thrift shop.


    • pegoleg says:

      Apparently the mismatch look is a bonafide trend. Who knew?

      And just what, young lady, is the thrift shop supposed to do with them? Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where they sold the muffin tops and couldn’t get anyone, even the soup kitchen, to take the bottoms.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. lorriedeck says:

    Oh my….if I kept mismatched socks they’d fill a closet. I never keep them. Or a sock with a hole in it. They all go in the trash. But I’ve never written a book or hiked the Appalachian Trail. I better get busy.


  5. The only socks I throw away are the ones that have holes in them.


  6. Al says:

    Leave it to Peg to out all us closet “Collectors of Orphaned Socks.” When I was teaching at a local community college, a fellow instructor in Physics taught a class called “Where do socks go?” Turns out it’s as mysterious as spontaneous human combustion. So, the next time someone says “this will knock your socks off”, be very afraid.


  7. Regina says:

    I used to keep all my mismatched socks in a special place on top of the dryer. Then I cleaned off the dryer. Now I just throw them back in the hamper every week and wash them again in hopes that this time I will wash their friend as well. Although if I ever do they probably will no longer match because the one I keep washing will have faded. It’s not a perfect system.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Elyse says:

    I’m going with you being a romantic, Peg. Not that I’m at all like you. Because I keep my sock singles in the closet …


  9. I’m another one who found the mismatched socks arranged marriage thing is actually a trend. While I’m not quite up to being that daring in my own personal wardrobe, my DIL(2B) is surely a trendsetter. She adopted all my orphans.


    • pegoleg says:

      Haha! This is a great idea! I can try to have all my orphans adopted. Except two of my white, cotton tennis footies with slightly different trim around the ankles probably won’t give off a hip, urban vibe. Just sayin’/


  10. When I was in high school, my dad and I figured out during physics homework one night that orphaned socks are a result of extreme centrifugal force in the dryer .(It throws one sock into the 4th dimension – I keep waiting for a sci-fi film where an astronaut comes through a black hole to be smothered by a plethora of lonely socks.)
    I have bought mismatched sock pairs as part of the trend – once I even got 3 socks, all different (I have since lost one).
    I think you should find out about a research grant, as this is obviously a topic that deserves more attention. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ah yes, can totally relate to this one! I have a drawer with mine in. Every wash load I get the drawer out and do a bit of matching, I usually find some because my kids throw their worn socks all around their room and so it’s rare for a pair to make it into the wash at the same time. But there are definitely several that have been in that drawer for a long time. When a sock gets a hole it, I do try to make sure I throw both of the pair away – I didn’t used to do that and I suspect several of my long-timers in the sock drawer are leftovers from those days. At a craft fair I went to a couple of years ago, they asked people to bring their odd socks along (clean!), and they had a stall where they were sewing them all together to make a huge sock-patchwork blanket. You could sit and sew yours on yourself if you wanted, or just leave them there for them to do. And then they auctioned off the finished blanket for charity. How cool is that? It looked wonderful too, a real work of art; all the different colours and sizes of socks, and knowing that so many different people had worn all those socks.


    • pegoleg says:

      That sounds so cool! But I’m having trouble visualizing. Do you have a photo? Did they cut the socks to make them flat and square?

      Good plan with throwing out both socks when you toss one, or else it will be in your drawer for all eternity.


      • No I seem to remember they left them as whole socks, so it was a real mish-mash, they were sewn in different directions and just fitted together in any way they could. I’ve probably got a photo somewhere, if I can find it I’ll show you!


  12. Jackie says:

    I love the term “arranged marriage” as it applies to forced socks couplings. Very nice. Also, throw out the damn socks, Peg.


  13. TamrahJo says:

    My ‘stash’ greatly reduced when 2nd son defied the laws of ‘ya CAN’T wash the stink out of these things!!!!!” – but…um…yup….I have my stash – and sometimes, I clean out my sock drawer to get the purple striped on the bottom footies matched back up with their pard – instead of the lime green ‘stand in’ they’ve been pulling shifts with ……LOL – fortunately, my purchase last year for work socks were Black – with nothing else, so they begrudgingly ride the trail of life, with each other, even if one is a little faded from too much wear and tear – – LOL


    • pegoleg says:

      I always buy black trouser socks, but they all have slightly different patterns. I’m looking at such a pair on my feet as I type, and that exposed 4 inches of mismatch is jarring.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. marymtf says:

    I have this theory about lone socks. It has to do with a parallel world and activist socks who just vant to be alone. Ever wondered why you’d toss a pair into a wash and only come out with one at the other end? I’d toss out the partners who didn’t msake it, if I were you, Peg.


  15. Deanne says:

    Here’s my ruthless game plan for mismatched socks. It was enacted because our son leaves laundry strewn around his room – it’s a sock minefield in there! I keep the orphans in a drawer for a month or two. (OK, maybe three or four…) If the mate hasn’t shown up by then, I lop off the toe and it becomes a dust rag.

    I used to feel virtuous keeping them for longer, but jeez, how many orphaned socks am I morally obligated to save? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I think George Carlin had a theory about those orphaned socks. He thought the socks were conspiring and would one day rise up against us. (That reindeer sock will probably be their leader.)


  17. Honestly, only you can write a post about mis-matched sox and have it be hilarious!! You’re definitely an optimist (or a hoarder) but I think I’ll stick with the optimist option!! 😂


  18. I bought some socks for my young grandsons that were already mismatched. Now that I’ve read your post I realize I have done them a disservice. Why should they have ready made mismatched socks when it can take a lifetime to accumulate such a collection? And I need to preserve my own so I can pass them on. You’ve opened my eyes to a new kind of legacy.


  19. Bill the Praise and Worship Guy says:

    You forgot the “Mom” narrative in all this. Remember she would feel some primal urge to do the Yenta thing and play matchmaker — but her method of consisted of corralling us all into the basement, holding up each sock (out of 200+) and asking, “Whose is this?” We would beg her to just let us grab our stuff and 90% of the job would be done, but she held firm. As we became teens, it occasionally cut into our jobs/dates/leisure time. Remember the time she got upset and cried at our protests? After that, we were really stuck: the 10 lbs. of irritation was supplemented with 100 lbs. of guilt. SO……. IT’S GENETIC!!!


    • pegoleg says:

      Funny, I think Carolyn had the same reaction when I told her about this piece when I was last home. The things we remember…

      You may be right about the genetics, but I’d like to state for the record that, unlike Mom, I never, ever, EVER did the Lonely Sock Dating Game production number with my kids.


  20. I don’t know when it happened. It certainly wasn’t a conscious decision but I just realized that I no longer have any mismatched socks. How is that possible? Where did they go? The end must be near!


  21. Hey! I think I have that other rainbow-toe sock at the bottom of my drawer!

    Not only do I feel bad about my lonely socks, but when I see one pathetic sock just lying there in a muddy puddle on some back road? Breaks my heart. What happened to the other sock? Was there tension in their relationship? Did he just up and walk away one day?


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