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In The End, It Was The Odd Socks That Finished Her Off

sock search

Garnet searching for his socks.

We’ve been on a holiday. A driving holiday, and while I’ll try to write about that soon, and tell you all about the long car trip to Melbourne and the long car trip back and all the in-between parts that involved snow, alpacas, honey prawns and a new tyre, today I can only write about socks.

Because I have realised that it’s not the pram in the hall that is the enemy of creativity. It’s the fact that as designated Chief of Socks in this family, 98 per cent of my Random Access Memory is occupied with being a geolocater for hundreds of tiny fucking socks.

We left our home three weeks ago, moving in with Mum and Dad while we renovate our house. Determined that this be a chance for a New Beginning, I threw out all the odd socks before we came. The only socks we brought were in matching pairs. We now have at least eleven odd socks. I don’t mean to be dramatic about it, but it makes me want to scream, break things, and glue the bastards to my children’s feet.

I’m not alone in this, I know. Last week we stayed in Darkest Country Victoria, so I could have a break from looking for socks in my parents’ house and instead spend a week hunting for them in my friend’s house, where they met odd socks from her kids and learnt new skills for evading capture. My friend, Ellie, agrees with me about the sock situation. She says her husband doesn’t really understand how it’s so hard to keep the socks under control and in pairs. And that’s an entirely normal thing to wonder, for a person who wears one pair of socks each day, takes them off at the end of the day when he removes his clothes, and puts them in the wash.

It’s a different story when you are dealing with people who randomly remove one or both socks at any time, at any place, in the house or garden, with as much mindfulness of their actions as a rock has in rolling down a hill. If you ask a rock why it rolled down a hill you won’t get much of an answer, but it’ll be a damn sight more than what you’d get out of a barefoot pre-schooler.

“What have you done with your socks?” I’ll ask Garnet.

He looks at me with the innocence and confusion of a newborn lamb. His face says clearly, ‘My whats? What have I done with my whats?’ The expression is blank, but mildly curious, as if this is a new word he’s hearing.

‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ I ask him. ‘Socks. You know what socks are. Don’t you?

His expression holds long enough to cause me to think, ‘Well, maybe he doesn’t know what socks are. Maybe “socks” isn’t the word I want. Is socks the right word? Socks. Socks. It sounds right. But now it sounds weird because I’ve said it so much. Socks. Socks. That can’t be it. I must have the wrong word…NO. It is right. I’m sure it is.’

So I say ‘SOCKS’ again, louder. And still the curious face gazes at me. I try describing them.

‘The things that go between your feet and your shoes, Garnet. Feet sleeping bags. Ankle beanies. Socks, Garnet. In the sweet name of all that’s odd and too small and not to be used for skidding on the polished floorboards, where are your socks?

I try making him backtrack through his movements, to figure out where he might have taken them off, but it’s as if someone else entirely was the one who entered the house wearing his socks. It’s as though in removing his socks, he shed that persona. He has become the man without socks.

In the absence of a trained hypnotist who can help him regress through his past life experiences, there is no way to know where the socks might be. Garnet shrugs. He is sorry, but he can’t help. The past is a different country, and it holds the key to where the socks are. But you can never go back.

I get another pair of socks out.

I’m beginning to think the way we, as a society, approach socks is fundamentally wrong and sets us up for failure from the outset. They should not be sold in pairs. I know it seems like a small thing, but imagine if that small thing were not a thing at all. Imagine all the socks, living life in harmony with each other. No pairing off. No division. I want to buy socks in a box, like tissues. I want to buy 67 socks in a box, all at once. All the same colour. All the same size. If someone wants to take this idea and run with it, please, be my guest. You’ll make a fortune. I’d do it myself but I am overcome with the odd socks and thus can achieve only very small things, like a blog post every three weeks and a monthly head count of my two children.

When we got back from our driving holiday, we went to our house to see how the renovations were progressing. The builders are still demolishing the kitchen and laundry, and pulling up the old floor in the dining room. There is a huge pile of rubble in the back yard, and you can see right down under the house. The kids were intrigued and starting fossicking through the broken tiles and bricks. Within thirty seconds Garnet cried out with joy.

“One of my socks!’ he shouted, waving a disgusting, half rotten, soaking, muddy grey baby sock in the air. He brought it home in the car and is keeping it beside his bed, like it’s his own personal Elgin Marbles. The painful irony is that the other sock in this pair was in the pile of odd socks I jettisoned when we moved out of the house. They can never be reunited.

That rather sealed the deal for me. If we have to resort to domestic archaeology to find all the socks, I want no further part in trying to maintain this absurd system of sock apartheid.

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