What is it with socks? Surely they have to be one of the uglier items of clothing you will have in your drawers (unless you still wear Y-Fronts), and yet somehow, especially in Britain, we cannot do without them. After all, how many of us on a cold night where we can’t sleep for cold feet, have eventually got up to put on some socks? Such a small, seemingly insignificant item, and yet totally out of proportion to the trouble they cause in the laundry room.
First of all, there is the inevitable missing sock. You know the moment… you are happily pairing up the socks from the last wash when you finally realise that there is an odd number and that one sad, friendless and unloved sock is sitting there reproachfully, as if you were somehow responsible for murdering its mate. You stand there puzzled, as you know there were no odd socks when you emptied the washing basket into the machine: you certainly have no recollection of a day when you decided to wear only one of the things – so it has to be there. You check the washing basket again: empty. You check the floor from the bedroom to the washing machine, from the washing machine to the washing lines: zilch. It has disappeared, gone to that legendary sock Bermuda Triangle (yes, that creates quite an image doesn’t it? I can see you imagining it!). So meanwhile you put the paired socks away and maybe lay the outcast on top of them… just in case. Despite your desperate searching, the other one cannot be found, until a week later you find another odd sock in your washing and, well, smack me down with a feather, but if it isn’t the partner to the original lost sock! Where has it been all this time? Off on holiday? A lost weekend binge drinking with the lads? Prison? I dare say it’s one of those mysterious things that no-one will ever solve – unless quantum physics devotes some research time (in which case we may one day see something called Schroedinger’s Sock).
Secondly there is the ritual of pairing the socks, as mentioned above. I like to do it as I take them off the line or radiator; put them together, roll the tops over so they stay together, and place them neatly in a drawer. Yes, maybe a bit OCD, but I like it that way. If you have socks with all different colours and patterns (in which case, you worry me), it is an easy process as you can easily see which one belongs to the other. However, socks of a similar colour provide a puzzle which is akin to brain-training software. The problem here is you originally buy all one colour (in my case, black) in the mistaken belief that all you have to do is put one black sock with another and Bingo! After all, one black sock is very like another isn’t it? Wrong. If, over the years you buy, say, 50 pairs of black socks (well, you may have a sock fetish, who am I to judge?), you will eventually end up with fifty shades of grey socks – about as exciting to match as the book is to read.
Seriously, I never knew there were so many shades of ‘black’. And then you notice the lengths may be different and also the elastication around the tops. So you end up sorting first into shades, then size, then top types – often requiring a whole table top to do the said job! I haven’t tried white socks but I’m sure it’s a similar process, with the shades of grey being just on the lighter side. Of course, there will be many people who wouldn’t give a toss if they were wearing mismatched socks. I envy them. I really do. But I CAN NOT put on odd socks without the feeling my day will somehow go tits up at some point.
Oh, and while I’m on the subject of socks, please can I appeal to all members of the household who leaving the washing to someone else to please not throw their socks into the washing basket half scrunched inside out? And if you work with farm animals also, please, divest your socks of any residual hay or straw. I ask this with earnest hopes of avoiding a near nervous break down for any other poor washing person in the future. But if it does happen. Take heart, you’ll survive. I did.