The mysterious, secret life of a lone sock

Everyone knows about lost socks. You can hardly do a load of laundry without coming out at least one sock short. At my house, one sock short is an optimistic prediction.

Everyone knows about lost socks. You can hardly do a load of laundry without coming out at least one sock short. At my house, one sock short is an optimistic prediction.

We buy socks in pairs. We wear them in pairs. We take them off and throw them into the laundry basket in pairs. They travel from washer to dryer - presumably - in pairs.

Things don't always work this way. Somewhere during the journey from dirty to clean, socks disappear.

I've got my own theories. I imagine errant, adventuresome socks hitchhiking their way to Disneyland; depressed, I-don't-want-to-be-here socks who, after much soul searching, decide to end it all; sock fights about blatant infidelity leading to sock divorce and (finally) wide-mouthed dryers coming to life at midnight in order to enjoy a late night sock snack.

I could share these ideas with you, but then you'd understand how my mind really works. You'd probably glance at me cross-eyed and feel the need to avoid me in deserted parking lots. Best to keep my theories to myself.


Socks are meant to be near feet. Trouble is, feet practically always come in pairs. You don't often hear about someone losing a foot in the laundry.

So we have a quandary about the laundry: What to do with all those extra, unmatched, (perhaps forlorn) and abandoned socks?

While practical, it isn't conventional to wear one brown sock and one pink sock. People might glance at you cross-eyed. As far as socks go, matching is imperative. It's all about appearances.

Which is why I keep my lone socks out of sight - but never out of mind.

I have a drawer reserved for widowed socks. Each time I do the laundry, and end up with a single sock, I head to The Drawer, seeking a match made in heaven. Sometimes I find one.

Those are the good days.

Other times, I add Sir Sock to The Drawer. Sock by sock, the drawer fills to capacity until it is so full that I have to engage in the unpleasant task of removing the most unmatchable socks to make room for the new recruits.

Socks are born to, live to and love to be worn on feet - soaking up sweat and cushioning our stride. But there are other respectable jobs for hard-working single socks. Many are conveniently located in my bathroom.


Socks losing their safe harbor in The Drawer move to the cupboard under the sink, where they sit with the Windex, scrubber brush and clinging toilet bowl gel. These socks work well for wiping up all types of bathroom messes (except that one!). I am talking about wiping bathroom appliances, walls and the floor.

It's a respectable way to go out - by doing something useful. I wouldn't be Scandinavian if I didn't believe that. My socks want to leave on an up note. If that means cleaning grub from the bathtub, so be it.

When this final task is done, I hold a wet and dirty sock. I could head to the laundry, but I realize a match is not forthcoming. Besides, that's where this sock's trouble started in the first place. Logic dictates one action: I help my sock go to a higher place by lowering it into the garbage.

After that, who knows? I like to think my socks move on to a freer, friendlier frontier - one where feet aren't always in pairs and lone socks are welcomed with open arms as distinguished members of society. They spend the day hob-knobbing with penny loafers or maybe cuddling up with a manicured foot.

Oh, there I go again. Please don't look at me cross-eyed.

Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and award winning freelance writer working with graphic designer Nikki Willgohs to provide writing and design and other marketing services to businesses and individuals. You can check out their Web site at or e-mail Jill at .

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