Socks are, for the most part, the article of clothing that is most likely to be taken for granted. Although a few Beau Brummells have tried to turn the sock into a colorful fashion accessory, for most men, and women too, the humble sock is a purely functional item. Socks are donned, then immediately covered by shoes, and after that happens we forget about them, They warm the foot, serve as an essential layer between foot and shoe so you don’t get a blister, soak up the smells feet are prone to produce, and are promptly tossed into the laundry basket at the end of the day without a second thought.
But when a sock fails of its essential purpose and acts in a way that demands attention, you’ve got a problem. And that’s what has happened with these “anklet” socks Kish got me to wear on my morning walks.
They go on just fine. But as soon as I start walking, the top of the sock inevitably departs the ankle region and starts inching down to the heel. I detect its progress, and suddenly I’m focused on my sock movement and not on my walk. A few more steps and the sock successfully rounds the heel and heads down to its preferred destination around the ball of the foot. By the the of my walk the Achilles tendon and heel are left wholly unprotected and the sock is bunched up and wadded around the tip of the foot, slides off when I remove my shoe, and then has to be fished out from deep within the shoe.
I don’t know if there is something weird about my walking gait or foot movement that causes this problem, but I do know that socks aren’t supposed to behave in this fashion. At least, my other socks don’t. And when a sock acts out, it’s really annoying. So these socks are going to be donated to Goodwill, where hopefully someone will have better luck with them.
Because life is too short to have socks that suck.
For my birthday the California SIL got me a very colorful pair of socks. They’re socks that paint a kind of picture — in this case, a desert landscape complete with a Saguaro cactus or two and a red desert sky.
The new socks will really shake up my sock drawer, which otherwise could be accurately shown on a black and white TV set. In short, it’s a study in blacks, grays, and whites, without much of a rainbow effect. I’m not sure how my other boring socks will react to these gaudy interlopers.
There has been a bit of a revolution in men’s socks over the past decade or so, with lots of fellows showing stripes and checks and polka dots and bold hues in the ankle coverage area. I’ve been slow to get into the sock fashion game, because I’m not a very fashionable person by nature. Plus, I think that most people expect drab sockwear to go with the gray and blue suits and discreet ties that are a lawyer’s standard uniform. But times clearly are changing, and you see more male lawyers getting into stocking style and hosiery hues.
So, I’m happily going to give my desert-themed socks a try. And I’ll be interested in seeing whether bright and colorful socks have one key feature: are they less likely to get lost around clothes dryers?
Socks are the the most roundly ignored article of western clothing.
Unless you wear socks with shorts — which itself makes a significant statement about the kind of person you are — socks are hidden by your trousers. Very few people buy socks based on their colors, or designs, or fabrics. Even fewer people try to match their sock selection with the rest of their workday wardrobe. I usually pick out socks at random in a pitch-dark room in the morning because it is irrelevant whether my socks are blue, black or gray, plain or with a line down the side or an argyle pattern. No one will see them, so what difference does it make?
I think socks realize that no one pays attention to them or, frankly, cares about them. Most socks accept this fate and move forward with their humble existence and, when selection day comes, seek to find pride and fulfillment in performing their intended function of keeping human feet warm and dry and unchafed in a shoe. Other socks come to despair and can’t stand to continue with their sock-drawer lives and seize the first opportunity for freedom that presents itself, abandoning their mates and finding fulfillment in a life of solitary contemplation behind a clothes dryer or under a bed.
Still other socks rebel in a different way. They reject the very essence of sockdom. It galls them that no one gives them a second thought. They crave attention and can’t abide being ignored. They know that there are only two ways that an average sock can break out of the pack — by developing a hole in the toe or by losing all upper sock elasticity. Socks that eventually, after years of service, develop a hole in the heel have done their duty, but socks that quickly develop a hole in the toe are just acting out. Droopy socks, on the other hand, know that, over the course of the day, they will fall below ankle level and bunch around your heel again and again, requiring constant adjustment and attention. Each upward tug just further feeds their neediness and addiction to getting more and more attention.
In some ways, socks are like people.
The boys are gone. Richard has moved downtown, Russell has left for Poughkeepsie, and they have left behind — socks. Lots and lots of socks. In so doing, they have inadvertently given me a new quest: to find a match for every orphaned male sock in the house.
This is an ideal quest. It is not unattainable, but it isn’t easy, either. It requires important qualities, like creativity, and inventiveness, and stick-to-it-iveness, as well as the ability to think like an abandoned sock. So far, I’ve found missing socks under beds, in random boxes and crates, in closets, tucked into old shoes, on desks, behind the washer and dryer, and under shelves. I’ve found socks that don’t appear to have ever been worn, socks that look like they have been put into a blender, socks that reek at levels approaching fatal toxicity, and socks that have been left rolled in a ball and then become calcified into a crusty brittle mass.
Still, I feel a rich reward whenever I locate the missing mate for a sock. If that happens, I try to wear the now reunited pair that very day, to experience the immediate satisfaction of a successful quest. As Lancelot, Galahad, and Don Quixote will tell you, any meaningful quest is all about prompt gratification.