An epitaph to lost socks
- Credit: AP
As we approach Lost Sock Memorial Day. Lynne Mortimer considers the eternal mystery of the missing sock and pays tribute to her best-ever lost sock.
There is nothing quite as satisfying as having a drawer full of matched socks... not that many of us experience this joy. Is there any better time than Lost Sock Memorial Day to fondly recall our missing socks?
We have one of them, of course we do and, in the faint hope that the other will 'turn up' we keep the singleton in our sock drawer. But why, after a year of no shows, do we insist on keeping single socks? I'll tell you why. Because the moment you throw one of them out, the other will appear. It is a variation on Murphy's Law (buttered bread always lands butter side down) and it is part of the rich tapestry of life that mankind has woven for itself.
In seeking to live above the level of subsistence, we have created endless opportunities to forget, mislay and lose items of apparel and accessories. Here my list (excluding socks) of the top most vulnerable possessions:
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• Umbrellas: You remember to take them when you have to go to out and it's raining and, arriving at your destination, you pop it somewhere where it can drip dry. The sun comes out and you go home without it. In fact, you don't remember it until the next time it rains by which time the brolly has disappeared. I once went into a phone box which had an umbrella hooked over the shelf and put my umbrella beside it... and I left mine there too.
• Scarfs: It is fashionable to wear a light scarf at your throat but unless you stuff it into a coat pocket you will leave it behind at the cinema or theatre because it gets hot in there and you'll be craving air more than warmth,
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• Purses: My best trick was to pop my purse on the roof of the car while I loaded the shopping and then drive off. It landed on the roundabout at the exit from the supermarket car park. Happily someone found it and handed it in.
• Pens: Rather in the way socks disappear, pens have a tendency to simply disappear. I am always obsessively attentive when someone borrows one of my pens. I watch them like a hawk until they've finished with it, then I place it back into the depths of my handbag and it seems to be there that the vanishing occurs. I buy in packs of five but within a week two will have gone.
• Keys: This is a case of failing to observe the unwritten rules that state the key will always be kept in the same place. I always leave my car key on the penultimate step at the bottom of the stairs... except when I put it somewhere else, namely in the kitchen by the toaster, on the coffee table, in my handbag, in my pocket, on the bookshelf. There really is no excuse for this sort of reckless behaviour.
But most mysterious of all is the missing sock.
A teacher I worked with always wore odd socks (cue old joke: 'I've got another pair like this at home.') This is one way of avoiding the consequences of a lost sock and it also means throwing out a holey sock does not immediately consign its fellow to the bin. In this way, odd socks can live on, confident in the knowledge that the failings of another sock will prematurely end their lives. The thing is, odd socks don't look great with sandals. It is testing enough when people wear matching socks with sandals.
Stewart White, on Look East, wears red socks (I have seen them described as bright pink). Having only one colour and brand of socks also eliminates the need to worry about matches.
Personally, I buy black socks of the same brand but unfortunately, I have noticed that the older ones are a little faded and so I still have the challenge of trying to match them. Where do socks disappear to? It is one of our most enduring unsolved mysteries and I sense we are no nearer the denouement than when man, probably in about the 8th century BC, first drew a sock-like garment on to his foot and sighed with contentment... until one went astray.
There are also socks we don't miss. The ones that play Jingle Bells if you happen to brush your ankle against a chair leg; Superman socks with a little free-flying cape at the back (also available in Batman and Loki versions); full English breakfast-patterned socks.
But in the spirit of Lost Sock Memorial Day we should pay tribute to the socks we have loved and lost.
My colleague, Rowan, still yearns for the glittery socks she wore for many years.
For me it's my T-shirt sock. I bought two pairs of these loose-topped ankle socks in Macy's, New York in the noughties and loved them. One day, I somehow managed to walk through a splip of spilled bleach and had to throw one of them away. Three left. Then, one got a hole and, as darning is not among my many skills, I threw it out. Two left. Then one went missing. Now I have but one and, 10 years on, may have to resign myself to the fact the other is never coming back.