Saturday, December 31, 2011

On Things that Socks Do

St Sebastian Despairs of Finding his Other Sock
It may be true that there is nothing interesting to say about socks, but I shall do my best. Most of the time they get on with their basic functions of keeping your feet warm, stopping your shoes rubbing, distinguishing one 15-year-old girl from another and marking you out as an Englishman when wearing sandals at the beach, but when left unsupervised they will enjoy themselves in quiet and surprising ways which mostly involve playing tricks on their erstwhile wearer.

It is in the nature of socks to be two, but their ability to become one, and sometimes three, between one look in the drawer and another, or between going into the washing machine and coming out, is well known. I have at times found the missing pair in the pocket of a pair of trousers, up the sleeve of a shirt, in the machinery of the washer itself, nested inside another sock, and many have never appeared at all. But it isn’t just that they get lost. They also have the ability to multiply. Where once there was a pair suddenly there will be an extra one, inexplicably (and rather uselessly). Lost socks will reappear the next time you do the washing, caught up in something that wasn’t even in the machine the first time. Douglas Adams would have made a fine job of failing to explain this.

The other day I ran across the best trick I have ever seen performed by a sock. One of the pair had teased out a loose thread from itself, tied it around its own instep with a complex knot (we hedgehogs don’t join the Scouts, so I can’t say exactly what type), trapping the leg of its pair (which went into the machine separately) inside it. If socks were interesting in themselves, and I accept that they may not be, this would be positively Fortean.

One of the reasons I know I’m happy is that I can take pleasure in being frustrated by the behaviour of socks.


James Higham said...

Hope you filmed it all - you'll make a mint.

CIngram said...

I'm afraid like all the best bits of life there were no witnesses and no lasting record. The eight-foot monkfish I caught and the time I pulled Angelina Jolie are likwise lost to history.

JD said...

let me know when you find my red socks - I think they have vanished into a time-warp and could turn up anywhere or anywhen