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.
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.