I realised last night pairing up the socks in the laundry basket has become a pre-bedtime midlife pleasure. Twoplay instead of foreplay, if you will.
We were watching the ‘The West Wing’, the youth sprawled on the sofa, the man in the process of nodding off. You know that scene, you’ve been there. It’s a moment of pure domesticity, and especially because of the sock pairing. Nothing makes me feel more all is right in my world than when I get to the bottom of the basket and it is empty – no sneaky sneaker sock lying there smirking at me, no lonely shoe liner looking up at me with a single tear. No, I’m not going crazy – I meant the other tear, as in hole.
I’m not talking about the whole ‘eating cookies in even numbers‘ stuff either. I just mean I like knowing there isn’t a killer kneehigh lying in wait for me somewhere, hoping to trip me up. But of course there is. We all have them, that pile of unused onesies, waiting in vain to be reunited with their other onesies. Mine are perched on the shelf above the tumble dryer, a pile that grows more precarious by the day and makes me wonder if, like lemmings, they will one morning decide to jump off the cliff as one into the black hole that is ‘the space behind the washing machine’.
So when do you gather your courage and decide once and for all, the time has come to put them out of their misery? I’m personally never ready to call time on a single sock. But then again, I’ve been known to keep old light bulbs in case they started working again (that was a long time ago and thankfully I met my husband).
Moving countries is usually my tipping point, but I’m amazed how quickly even in foreign soapy waters that little pile starts to form itself again. Life stages contribute. I can barely remember the ‘little people’ years, but from the number of errant tiny bits of soft material I’ve found on the street, you young parents must be fighting an all-out war to make it into the laundry room if you store the ever-hopeful-will-be-reunited other halves in there.
Youth years are interesting. When there are two males in the house and one of them grows up a bit and starts to gravitate away from dinosaurs and astronauts, you have to think twice about whether those nice plain black socks belong to your recently-matured husband or to your always-been-a-plain-sock-kinda-guy son. Because they start having the same-sized feet. I’m telling you, nothing makes you realise that your little boy is now a young man than seeing double the quantity of size 8-10s in your laundry basket.
Girls are perhaps easier. For one, they are usually more particular about their clothes ie they actually pick them and so recognise their own socks in school changing rooms. But they have also more choice so it’s no easy job sometimes matching up the exact number of dots and dashes. It’s the hard sudoku puzzle as opposed to the medium level one boys give you.
Girls also (sometimes) are more careful about putting BOTH socks in their wash basket so you usually have a higher rate of matchmaker success. The daughter and I had been doing famously for 5 years or so, a virtual eHarmony of sock pairing. But then my other sockpairing half moved away to college, she had to do all her own washing, she had to use college washing machines and she had to buy her own clothes. The result when she returned (and virtually ran and kissed the family automatic), was a collection of singletons to rival my current lemming farm.
Cue one of those moments when your children teach you a life lesson. What did she do but match them up any old way – dots went with dashes, pink went with once-white-but-now-grey, dinosaurs with astronauts. It was a real swingers party.
Thinking back on this while writing this post, I had a revelation. From now on, I’ll see my lemming farm as a joy of socks club where unattached singletons may hook up with like-minded individuals. Next time I find a lonely soul, looking trodden-upon and washed-out, up they’ll immediately go to the shelf above the tumble dryer, I’ll turn out the lights and leave them alone – together.
You never know – perhaps they’ll even find their sole-mate.
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