I have a lot of socks. Not only do I have a lot of socks, I have a lot of different kinds of socks, most of which I’m not crazy about. My quest for the Perfect Sock is an on-going process, the trail marked by failure.
Time was, I went into Target — any Target, anywhere — and bought a pack or two of mid-calf tube socks that would keep me in good shape for months, if not years. And while I hear Kara snickering already, tube socks were the greatest invention in the history of hosiery. Without a heel, you didn’t have to worry about the fit from toe to the back of the foot, and because they were a tube, you could wear whatever part you wanted under your heel. Many fewer holes that way.
These Target socks were also lightweight and breathable, and here I will hear all of you snickering, but when my feet can’t breathe I can’t think. Even Lynn, who should know these things by now, kept trying to suggest things we could be doing one weekend day when I kept telling her I needed to get home to take off my shoes. That was all I cared about in the entire world, was removing the boots that had been on way too many hours so that my feet could breathe and I could once again think about something besides my suffocating feet.
So, lightweight tube socks. From Target. Until that horrible black day when I went into Any Target and the tube socks were gone, replaced by heel-toe crew socks. I left without making a purchase. (Okay, I’m sure I made some purchase; it was Target, after all — but no socks.) I checked Another Target. And another and another. The socks were gone, and never coming back.
Since then, my feet and I have been on an endless quest, and this has resulted in quite the melange in my sock drawer. I have socks by Gildan. Socks by Hanes. Socks named after my nephew Justin (made by the Justin Boot Company), purchased on sale as a menswear store here in town was closing. Socks from a store in Wisconsin owned by a friend of my brother-in-law, purchased because the airline lost my luggage. (The bag arrived hours after my purchase, but I still have my souvenir socks with their golden yellow toes.) This was years ago, and whatever brand of socks these were has held up much, much better than the Gildan socks, most of which have holes. But the gold-toe socks have way too much fabric in the toe region and are very bunchy in my shoes.
One day a man from elsewhere in Colorado, seeking outlets for the socks his new company was making, mistook our shop for a haberdashery and wondered if we were interested in carrying his line. We tried to point him down the street to the stores more suited to carry his product, but he fobbed two sample pairs off on us nonetheless.
I asked Kara what we should do with them, and she said I should take a pair, because no one is more particular about their socks than I am, and give the other to James, into name-brand footwear.
I brought mine home and in deciding to give them a try one day noticed one had a little R on it, while the other had an L. I went back to work to confront James. “There are socks specific to your left and right feet?” Oh yes, he said, as in: any idiot knows this.
I knew shoes come this way, now — I learned at a pirate exhibit at Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science that once upon a time shoes were interchangeable on feet as well — but I still have trouble with the notion of socks designed for specific feet.
I’m not sure I’ve worn those socks since. I can’t remember if it’s because I wasn’t crazy about the way they felt on my feet, or because I was afraid I would like them and would need to start paying as much for one pair of socks as I am now willing to pay for a pack of six pairs. Or even more, if I were going to make a habit of buying the ultra-thin-but-so-far-holding-up two-for-a-dollar pairs I’ve bought at Dollar Tree.
And what happens when you lose a foot-specific sock in the laundry? You can’t just grab another from the pile and wait for the Sock Monster to even out the oddity, as will eventually happen.
Pat’s can get you socks with your logo printed on them. We source these rather than printing them ourselves, and I notice one company has recently advertised that you will get three socks in your “pair,” for that inevitable laundry-room crisis. Those clearly are not socks fitted to specific feet.
I do have two pairs of socks I’ve never worn. We noticed at breakfast one morning that one of the proprietors of the Firebrand is all about making a statement with her socks, but my alien socks, a gift from one of my several friends named Nancy, remain packaged, inviolate, so that I can see them in my drawer and smile rather than lose them in the laundry.
So far I’m doing the same thing with a recent gift from Kara. She bought them, socks that say “World’s Best Boss,” even though we are business partners and she was rather put out that most of the socks were marked “adult,” but this particular pair is specifically labeled for “men.” I would hate to lose men-only best boss socks.
I’m not sure the Sock-Eating Monster strikes as often as I’m leading you to believe. I neither pair up nor count my socks as they come out of the dryer. (I tried hanging them to air-dry once upon a time, but that was a tedious time-suck of a task, so hosiery remains my main use of the dryer.) I have no idea if I have an odd or even number of each kind of sock, and if I find one, as often happens with the Gildan socks, with holes in it, I just toss the one and figure eventually my pile will even out again.
I used to save the socks that no longer suited my feet — they made great oil-checking rags. But I didn’t check engine oil enough to warrant saving box upon box of worn-out socks, so now they go in the trash. That should make my mother happy, if not any of the rest of you.
And I must confess that I have several socks in my drawer, in addition to specialty socks, that rarely see the light of day (such as it is for an item that spends its life stuffed into shoes under pant legs), that should just be thrown away but still have life left in them. Some of them are tube socks, and you know how I am about those.