“Everybody bring me your socks,” I yelled, because I was on the verge of finally solving a crime. The crime is single socks. The tower of them on my dresser was finally threatening to overtake the room, and they had to be somewhere, I reasoned to myself. They had to be.
I have 21 single socks on my dresser. 21. I can’t even make up fraternal pairs with that number. Our current household has 4 people living in it, though Ari, 19, was home over Christmas for a month. I have a method. As I haul laundry out of the dryer, random socks get neatly deposited on top awaiting their mate who no doubt caught a later load.
After the singles have hung out on the dryer for a couple of weeks, I bring them up to my room, reasoning that some other laundry-doer in the household doesn’t know the rule. I see family stroll by me wearing mismatched socks, and I yell that they are the cause of all my problems. A willingness to accept sock mediocrity is surely a sign of the apocalypse.
I have checked the corners of fitted sheets, duvet covers and lint traps. When I take the machines apart with a screwdriver to clean them, I often find orphan socks and wonder where they think they’re escaping to. I’ve checked under beds and dressers and couches, and I’ve checked inside big socks for small ones. Gym bags, backpacks, suitcases. I know for certain the surest way to find the matching one of anything is to throw out the mate. With that in mind, I’ve put the singles in a bag and pretended to throw them away. I’ve been reduced to faking out socks. Once a year, I throw them away for real, accepting failure.
When Ari moved to school, I discovered a bunch of single socks in his drawer; he was obviously leaving them behind. I stared at them. One of them had little rubber grippers on the bottom; he’d had those socks when he was 2.
I’d already texted Ari at school to see if he had any stray socks. He replied that he didn’t, but that he’d mistakenly brought back some of Christopher’s Christmas underwear. “I went to get dressed and they fell to my ankles. Underwear for giants!” he texted back. Christmas underwear is underwear they get every year at Christmas, not underwear festooned with reindeer and elves. He had no extra socks. He claimed.
Pammy, 22, was doing her homework when I barged into the room. She is Christopher’s girlfriend, and the closest thing I will ever have to a sock ally. She’s willing to wear unmatched socks, but at least she’ll aim for the same brand and style. “I need help,” I told her, depositing an armload of socks on the bed. Christopher walked by and laughed. “You won’t throw them out, will you?” he asked. “Even though they make you crazy.” I glanced at my son, who wears flipflops to put out the blue bins in a snow storm. Yes. It’s the socks that make me crazy.
“Go through your laundry, I’m throwing these away now if I can’t match them up,” I told her. Behind me, I heard Christopher begin to open drawers. Pammy looked into the pile, just as a sock fell from the sky.
It was a match. I snatched it and another rained down. Christopher was going through his dresser, finding lone socks.
As he did this, my very serious son was singing and dancing.
The song? All the Single Ladies.