Sock-it Sunday


I’m on a rampage.  I get this way sometimes.  It’s just who I am.  Sue me.

So, it started with the sock basket.  I hate that thing.  I truly despise the existence of a basket in my home where my lazy family (and yes, myself included) shovels unmatched socks rather than taking the 5 minutes it would take to match them.  (Or the seconds it’d take to slip a Sock-Mate over them when you took them off and they’d never have to match socks again!).  When we first got married, I didn’t have a sock basket.  If a sock happened not to have a mate (happened every load to a sock or two), then I’d leave it in the basket and when it was time to do the next load, I’d match em up again… if I noticed a sock just never seemed to have the mate, I tossed it.  Somewhere around child six, that pile grew… multiplied, and finally filled its own basket.  I hated it but I was too busy nursing babies, trying to keep the house reasonably clean, and working on another kid with phonics to deal with it.  Well, now I have time to ensure it gets done, but do I?  Erm… no.

So, about once a year (or in desperate times, twice), I pull out the basket, toss everything in it, run to Walmart, and spend $75 on socks for the family.  It’s sanity saver and cheaper than the per hour rate of therapy so I’ve justified it for the past ten years or so.

Today, I broke my “tradition”.  I picked up that basket, started to heave it into the trash can, and wondered how long it’d take me to match them all.  I wondered how much money I’d save if I forced the match.  I also got a kick out realizing I could rub it in my “green daughter’s” face that I did what she wouldn’t have wanted to do for anything.  Match socks instead of tossing them.  HA.  Snort.

I discovered some interesting things while I matched those socks.  There were socks that were permanently stained with grungy bottoms– ick!  Other socks, looked like they’d been worn once… or not at all.  They were pristine– gorgeous.  I loved stroking their perfect loveliness.  Some socks were a little stretched out or slightly thin, but there was a lot of good use in them.  I liked them.  They felt comfortable as I paired slightly misshapen pieces back with their mates and rolled them in their little sock balls.  Some had been washed with bleach when the mate wasn’t or was washed with something that bled onto the sock.  They matched… they were definitely mates… but they didn’t truly “match” anymore.  My perfectionistic side wanted to toss them.  The blue toes and heels were slightly different now.  However, I kept them and decided that they were kind of like married couples.  They start off in perfectly coordinated harmony at the wedding ceremony but after time of wear and tear together, they still “match” and work well together… probably better than ever, but they do have distinct characteristics that show now that life has made its impression on them.

That thought sent me into a whirlwind of sockology.  I looked back at the holey worn out socks that I was tossing in the garbage bag and I wondered… do we do that with people?  Once they’re not crisp and pretty anymore… once life has punctured them with the ugliness of this world do we cast them aside– out of sight and mind?  I looked at the perfectly white ones and a similar thought came to mind.  Were we drawn to people who “look good” on the outside because of their apparent perfection and yet we’re blind to the fact that they’ve not done much?  Somehow I pictured Sally Spiritual sitting in her pew at church.  Her pristine Bible open to the right passage, her perfect clothing, spotless children, handsome husband, and their life seemingly perfect… does it call to us?  Do we admire her when we should pity her?  Perhaps she wants to work but no one will see that she’s capable of doing anything but looking sweet and spiritual.  Perhaps she’s lonely sitting in her sock basket pew while she waits for someone to choose her.  I know when I pick two pairs of socks, I choose ones that look like they have equal wear to them so they truly match.  Do we do that to our perceived “perfect people”?  Do we assume they’re only good for show?

The stretched out and comfy socks warmed my heart when I started imagining them as people.  You know someone like that, don’t you?  The woman who every time you see her just fits.  She can be in the middle of a personal life crisis, she can be elbow deep in cleaning up a yucky baby bottom or painting the outside of her house, but when you arrive, she just “puts you on” like an old friend and makes you comfortable again.  Those people seem to fit a wide variety of sizes… have you noticed?

I got a lesson from those socks today.  I kind of liked it.  For a moment, I was tempted to see what my underwear might tell me.  Then I shuddered.

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