PF’s underwear drawer is the sock equivalent of Fagin’s den: it’s full of orphans. They are all black – this is not an indicator of racist sock management, it simply means that PF mainly wears black socks. Yet according to PF, all these socks are different. He is picky – he grouches as he pulls them on in the morning, saying, “This isn’t a pair, you know”. I look bleary-eyed at them from under the quilt and say, “Yes they are, they’re both black”. He insists that they don’t go together. “The elastic is different. Look!” or, “This one’s pure cotton, this one’s got lycra in it”. I’ve pulled my socks up since, but refuse to start obsessing about getting pairs to match. I have no desire to become an NCIS sock expert, spending hours inspecting the elastic inside the socks with a microscope in a bid to match their genetic blueprints.
Why do we have this unhealthy obsession with socks having to match, anyway? After all, nobody sees them half the time. Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place with happy, colourful feet? I dream of a new world where my bank manager would cross his legs to reveal bright red hearts on one ankle and blue and green stripes on the other without hot-footing it out of the room in embarrassment. Where I could have fun checking out the colours and patterns on businessmen’s socks on boring train journeys. Where people would say, “Hey, your left sock rocks!” rather than “Excuse me, your socks don’t go together.” But my sock utopia is not to be…. French sock society is sectarian, and a white sock and a black sock cannot pair up and go out together. A size five with a size nine will not foot the bill, either. People would talk. We need a below-the-knees revolution. Maybe we could sock it to the nation by staging a new West End theatre success called West Sock Story, telling the racy, stockings and suspenders tale of unrequited sock love in a heart-stopping underwear drawer debacle?
Anyway. Back to PF’s socks. I put the orphans together so that they don’t feel lonely, and leave them in the odd sock bag until their other half turns up. The odd sock bag is a sad home for Socktown singletons who lost their grip on their other half somewhere in the centrifugal vortex of the laundry cycle. Widowed socks are resigned to life as outcasts. The other sock never turns up, of course, and after a while I either throw the laundry basket orphans away or use them for cleaning. This is, of course, where Murphy’s Law swings into action. As the binmen disappear with the repudiated single socks, their bereaved other halves are promptly found weeping inconsolably in Little My’s knicker drawer, behind the tumble drier or under a bed, and are entrusted to the shoe-cleaning kit with all the appropriate rites, relegated from shoe-lining to shoe-shining.
Where do lost socks go, anyway? Do waylaid socks form a hallowed mystery club along with the remaining teaspoon at the bottom of the washing-up bowl and that missing woollen glove that suddenly and inexplicably turns up in the middle of summer? Where can they possibly get lost on their journey from Rugby-boy’s sweaty feet to the underwear drawer? Do they hide in the washing machine? Do cold-footed magpies pinch them from the washing line? The only logical explanation I can find is the existence of a sock equivalent of the Bermuda triangle. I have named this The Lost Sock Dimension, or LSD for short. Lost socks wail in this no-mans land as they yearn to be reunited with their other halves and rub heels in the reassuring, sweet-smelling haven of the odd socks bag.
So spare a thought for orphaned socks. Take two out of the bag today, put them on and take them out for a walk. In future, maybe socks should be sold in threes, instead of pairs. That way I could keep the spare one… in the odd sock bag.
I’ll leave you with this lovely animated film about lost socks by Austin Hillebrecht. Hope you enjoy it!