Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sock it to Me

Let’s face it: socks are to the laundry as silverware is to the dishes. They are the last ones left in the pile. They are not the glory items that connote progress such as towels, jeans, and sheets. They are small and sneaky, clinging to unsuspecting shirts, snaking around under slacks. They sit, coiled under the pile of clean laundry, hiding, deliberately separating themselves from their mates in a cruel game of hide and seek.

Chances are very high that at least one time in your life, you have had a fight/disagreement with someone in your household over the issue of socks. The likelihood of that fight/disagreement increases dramatically if you have small children.

Now, when the boys were little, I was bound and determined to do it all. I had a fairly stressful job outside the home but still I took the boys to school. I picked them up afterwards. I took them to soccer practice. I took them to scout meetings. I cooked. I cleaned. I did laundry. I helped with homework. I collapsed into bed each night and woke up to do it all again the next day.

SO when it was time to make sock purchases, I had no time to plan, analyze or study the situation. Often times, I screeched into the parking lot of some giant store, ran in, grabbed a bag o’ socks and drove home.

Over the years, I made A LOT of sock purchases because

1) Our boys did not understand that socks were not indoor/outdoor wear.

2) Our cat Zelda has an affinity for carrying socks around and hiding them in unusual places, even taking them over the fence into the neighbor’s yard. I have very vivid memory of both boys standing barefooted in the garage one morning before school, waiting, while I crawled under the van to retrieve a variety of socks that Zelda had placed there.

3) To a busy mom, new socks in a bag are one of God’s greatest gifts. They are like soft serve ice cream cones: they make everybody happy. They are inexpensive, clean, white, and beautiful and all the more special because you know they won’t last. I, like many mothers, have pulled new socks out of the bag and held them against my face, nearly in tears at the beauty of these little miracles. Clean socks. My children have new, clean, perfect socks. I. am. a. good. mother.

So we had lots of socks, and lots of different styles and brands. To me, that made sorting and folding them a bit like a game of Memory. All it took was some concentration and time, and being willing to bend the rules and go with a close match if an exact one was not possible.

Now HOB (Husband of Betty) had his own philosophy when it came to purchasing socks. (Note: he did not purchase socks for the boys; he just knew how it should be done.) It was when I asked him to help me fold the laundry that he was most likely to share his soon-to-be-patented, surefire, safe-and-sane method of sock purchasing.

With evangelistic zeal, he would launch into his sermon about how I should buy just ONE kind of sock, ONE color, ONE size, ONE brand, ONE style and that way sorting and matching them would be easy. He would stand over the pile of clean laundry late at night, preaching, shaking one sock with a red band around the top and one sock with a yellow band around the top at me so I could see the error of my ways. Meanwhile, I worked busily, concentrating on getting just enough clean clothes off the bed so I could fit in it.

Once I asked him why, if he had this system, he did not implement it. He said he most certainly would, but it would require him to throw out every sock in the house and start over.

Every sock in the house had to go. No exceptions.

“You’d never go for that, would you?” he said.

Indeed I would not. I explained to him that we had a lot of good socks and all we had to do was to spend eight minutes doing the work of matching them up. This caused the Jimmy Swaggart of socks to shake his head in disbelief at the skepticism of the nonbeliever and launch into his passionate dissertation once again.

Then one fateful night it happened.

It was time to fold the three loads of clean laundry that were on the bed. We had folded most of the big-ticket items and I noticed HOB was avoiding the socks more than usual. He left to take a stack of towels to the bathroom. I reached under the pile and brought out assorted socks and sprinkled them on top of the pile of remaining clothing. He came back and I saw him pick through the clothes, avoiding all socks—even those matching ones on the very top that were practically throwing themselves together.

Finally, all that were left were the socks and the man mysteriously disappeared. I called to him. He came back in the room. I confronted him while dramatically pointing at the giant pile of socks still left on the bed. He proclaimed that the socks were “just too much” and that since I would not follow his plan of sock purchasing, well, he just couldn’t participate in the folding of the socks anymore.

Then he left the room.


Now, it is very dangerous to refuse to help a tired, stressed-out mother with sock duty. It is even MORE dangerous to refuse to help a tired, stressed-out mother who is also a highly sensitive, writerly type of woman who has a tendency to see symbolism in even the smallest acts/items.

When I looked down at that pile of socks I did not see a pile of socks.

Instead, I saw all the small tasks that were left to me, and me alone. I saw the purchasing of birthday party gifts. I saw the writing of thank you cards. I saw permission slips for school. I saw the napkin that had been on the floor for two weeks that needed to be picked up. I saw Christmas gifts that needed to be purchased and mailed. I saw the lunches that needed to be packed. I saw the damaged banana that everyone had left for me to eat while they ate their beautiful, perfect bananas.


I called HOB back in and eagerly shared with him all of the above observations. I don't really remember too much of the text of my helpful address to him. I was seeing a lot of colors at the time and the room was sort of tilting as I moved about to make my commentary just a bit more effective. I do believe my voice may have been a bit higher and faster than usual. I remember HOB squinting when I hit a few of the more important points of my keynote address. It was as though the pitch of my voice was piercing his temples like an ice pick. Oh, also, I do remember going on about the banana for an extended period of time, perhaps longer than rhetorically necessary.

Finally I was done.

I stood, looking at him, daring him with my eyes to speak.

“So,” he said, locking his gaze onto mine. "Do you want me to deal with those socks?”

“Yes,” I said, distinctly and clearly, meeting his stare, my pupils widening.

“Do YOU (pointing at me) want me to deal with those socks?” (pointing at them).

“Yes.” I said, enunciating the word like never before.

Reminiscent of a “Wild Planet” show, we stood, our eyes locked.

"Do you want ME to deal with those socks?"


Are you sure you want me to deal with THOSE socks?”


"Because I WILL deal with those socks!"

"Good! It's about time you dealt with a few of the socks around here!"

That is when the bull moose headed for the pile of socks on the bed, scooped them up and dramatically headed for the trash can, dropping them all in.

“There!” he said, triumphantly throwing his hands in the air. “I have just dealt with the socks!”


No he didn’t.

Yes, he did.


For the sake of our marriage, we do not speak of this incident too often.

Life is easier here now that we have only one boy home. He picks out his own socks and, in typical teen boy fashion, honestly doesn’t care if his socks match or not. Occasionally, he actually does his own laundry too.

There are those times, though, when I am sorting the laundry and HOB enters the room. I see his eyes flit to the socks on the bed. I look at him and he looks at me and we give each other little smiles.

“Want me to help you deal with those socks?” he says.

“Sure,” I say.

And he actually does.


Larri said...

Hilarous, Betty! Thanks for the fits of laughter this AM. :o)

PS...Since confession is supposed to be good for the soul...I don't fold & match the socks EVER. They sit in a basket on the laundry room floor. Every morning the kids dig through the sock basket and find a matching pair. EVERY. MORNING. Sometimes I feel guilty, but most often (for the reasons you listed in your post), I don't. With three kids who all have different tastes in socks, I refuse to waste my time matching those socks. You know what? They're so indoctrinated to this practice, I think it would shock their little systems if I were to fold their socks at this point. Besides, it gives me more time to read funny blog posts. ;o)

Happy Wednesday! :o)

Catherine said...

Haha ~ loved this story ~ well your marriage has survived socks... you can make it through anything now! :)
xo Catherine

Unknown said...

Wish that would work here but I have sons who refuse to wear the others socks. Hence I buy 4 different brands of socks and the sons know which socks are theirs by the brand/style.
I do the same thing with underwear too.

Lin said...

Do you have name for this showdown, like The Great Sock Fight or The Dreaded Sock Battle? Because we do and all I have to do is say the name and the man knows what I mean and hops to it.

We have the Birdseed Affair. Say those two words to Joe and the man crumbles. Every. Single. Time.

After coming in the backdoor all the time and dragging in birdseed and crud from our patio in every single day, I finally got tired of asking him to come through the garage. I was vacuuming every single day and that stuff was so hard to get out of the carpet.

One day I snapped and dummped a whole 10 lb bag of birdseed on the carpet and told HIM to clean it up. I drove away.

But when I came home it was cleaned up and he came through the garage from then on.

Why do we have to snap????

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Betty, you have just made my morning - that was hilarious!
And must be a man trait - I buy just one brand of white socks and one of dress socks so matching is easy.

Parsley said...

HAHA that's great! My hubs has a thing about socks too. He buys more and more and won't throw the old ones out like he's afraid 2 drawers aren't enough and he might run out of clean ones or matching ones or something. hahahaha

My Mind's Eye said...

OH MY WORD this is hilarious!!! Well done. Over the years it has become obvious to me that one lady in a house full of men is a Sagel (Saint and Angel) who was given a very special gene at birth!!
Thanks for attacking the sock issue with such gusto.
Hugs Madi and Mom

Teresa Evangeline said...

Oh I miss these domestic tiffs. Both of my boys are grown up and gone. Ditto with the husband. But not before I went through various permutations of the sock game, culminating in myself throwing away every pair and starting anew. It was very liberating.

Love this story. Thanks for starting my day just right. Chuckles of recognition.

Leah J. Utas said...

Good one.

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

I love how you can take something like socks and build it into a story that we can all relate to. This is just a hoot. Well done, Betty.


You wrote an excellent post on the subject of socks which brought back many a fond memory of when my husband was alive and the boys were still at home, I could never understand how you put in pairs of socks into the washing machine and just one of the pair comes out, I had bags of odd socks at one time.
I never did find the others,


Out on the prairie said...

Now you are making me feel guilty, a bit. I hated it when Hanes changed the color of their logo and some socks couldn't match.When I see them on sale I buy 3-4 dozen.They last well. I did get different ones for summer with sports logos when I wear the low cuts. I pull all out of the enormous sock drawer and change styles.When I get down to a dozen I start watching for the sale and get more. I take all my old ones to a community closet at a mission.Socks are one of the few things I fold other than towels. I hang everything else up.

Tabor said...

Best post of the day!

Liz said...

Having 3 boys in your house, I'm sure socks have been a thorn in your side for EVER.

I can't stand that craig leaves his socks all balled up, and I hate reading the puff paint age on their girls socks to separate.

I'm thankful for the warm weather because it means sandals and NO socks!

Connie said...

Oh my poor, poor, dear Betty. Such a cruel way to live. You have my sympathies. No one should have to eat damaged bananas!! I used to be the damaged banana eater in my household, but no more. I either throw those things away, or I make banana bread out of them now.

I literally gasped out loud upon reading that HOB threw those socks away!! How DARE he! What an outrage!

Since you seem to have forgiven him and have gotten past this incident, you are obviously a better woman than I am. That might have been the breaking point for me.

I am assuming that he redeemed himself by rushing out to the store immediately afterwards to purchase all new one-of-a-kind socks for the entire family. Men!

Thanks for making me laugh this morning, Betty. Wishing you a perfect banana day. :-D

Anne Gallagher said...

When Monster Child was a baby, my sister-in-law (Not the evil one, the good one) made a comment that she never worried if she lost a baby sock, she would just buy more. Well, I took it as a challenge and for the first 3 years of her life, I never lost a sock. Until one fateful day at the laundromat, I found one of her socks in with my laundry. (I used to wash all her clothes at my mother's house. Didn't want Laundromat germs on my darling's little clothes.)

I paid it no mind, until I got home and couldn't find the other sock. I tore the house up, down and sideways. I couldn't find it. I called my mother in a blind panic, "Have you seen the sock?" She thought I'd lost my mind.

From that point on, I bought little athletic socks with pink toes and don't really care if I lose one or not. HOB does have a point.

Anne Gallagher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hilary said...

Oh how I can relate to the sock match up. It's the part of the laundry I like least. Your standoff with HOB is just hilarious. I can't believe you didn't see that final "OH. OH." coming There's a socker born every minute. ;)

Great post, Betty.

laughingmom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
laughingmom said...

Loved this post! Bravo Betty!

My daughter wears mismatched socks everyday on purpose - kind of her quiet protest to conforming. Makes doing the laundry interesting...

Liz Mays said...

I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed this story, and unfortunately I felt like bits and pieces of it were pulled right out of my own life. Who knew socks could be so pivotal in their importance?!

Alison said...

Surprisingly touching at the end! Ah, yes, the "socks." Even without children, I have a list of "socks" in our house, too...

Brian said...

That's funny! But hey, I shouldn't talk, I've been know to hide a sock or two!

Jules said...

All I can say Betty is ROFL!!! Wonderful for this rainy day but hey...

Have you ever noticed socks have matching issues in the washer only to make up with a new mate in the drier? :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

LittleSilkDress said...

You know, Husband and I had a huge fight about socks on Monday night. Like you, it was about more than just socks. They just happened to be the unfortunate catylist to a blow up. I. Loathe. Folding. Socks. So does Husband.

Dillypoo said...

No kids in my house, but all of my socks magically seem to go through the wash and come out in pairs. The husband's? Not so much. His go into the wash in little balls of grass and dirt. They come out as little balls of grass (albeit clean grass). I consider it a lucky day if I can mate them all.

Thanks for the giggle!

Mary Ann Tate said...

I have a friend who irons socks and underwear. I'm not kidding. The first time I saw her ironing socks I was appalled. I really was in shock.

When my sons were younger I used to throw all the socks into a laundry hamper on top of the dryer. I still do. Each to his own I say. They can stay there and rot as far as I'm concerned:)

Anonymous said...

Imagining you with this argument with your voices is absolutely side spliting! Yes my mom could have a wonderful discussion about the motherly "duties" that husbands don't seem to realize that mothers have.

I have had a taste because when my parents are gone I am like a mother to my brother, which really bugs me. He maybe autistic, but he's older and just a lazy pig sometimes.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Great story. When my boys were little I bought them all different brands of socks so there were only three choices.
It all fell apart when they started to purchase their own.

Ann said...

Love the story. I had a little trip down memory lane of my own sock sorting sessions. I never had even an offer of help though.

Pat Tillett said...

Pure hilarity!!!
I do my own laundry, always have, always will... Maybe this is why i have two kinds of socks. black socks and white socks. No need to sort, no need to match, no need to do anything but throw them in the drawer! For all that other stuff you do (and my wife does and did) we thank you...

Gigi said...

Genius, Betty! Pure genius!!

And the fact that your marriage withstood The Great Sock Incident means that it will withstand everything!

Old Kitty said...

Nothing like pairs of socks to make or break and make a partnership!!!!! Yay for you and lovely HOB for overcoming the Sock Incident that will never be spoken of again! LOL! Take care

Cricket said...

This is brilliant.

My wife and I have similar, if not so vigorously expressed, disagreements. I do the laundry here, though. She must have fifty pairs of socks, all different.

Mine are all black (so as not to show dirt), all the same.
HOB's logic, I'd say.

With the kids socks, I save the odd ones, for when they wear a hole in a matching or similar pair.

I'm with you on "close enough."

Funny stuff.

Lydia Kang said...

Every time you said, "Oh. Oh." I was laughing so loud!

faye said...

Fantastic story.. Bob has his own way of folding socks and not the way
I prefer . So all I have to do is fold them my way and put them away
and then he will fold them his way...

re your comment ... No I am not
blogging from outer space ..
just feeling my space... spacey

Unknown said...

Oh, gosh. This is my favorite post of yours, ever.

I so feel your pain.

I so see so much more than the socks at hand (or at foot).

I so am married to your husband.


Unknown said...

P. S. I blogged, but only to link to your brilliant post!


Velvet Over Steel said...

Another histerical post, Betty!!!! Having 3 boys (4 counting the man I was married too 'smiles' who was the most work by far) and my being the only female around... did All the things you mentioned and more. My HOB refused to even 'know' where I kept the vacuume and mop... Seriously!!!! So I totally can relate to your post!!

You are so funny, Betty & I can't wait for books by 'Bossy Betty'!! :-)

GreatGranny said...

Hilarius, Betty, thoroughly enjoyed this.

Pearl said...

This is why I come here, Betty!

Socks: the hidden menace.

Pearl said...

He actually does? You trained him well, Betty. That was an effective address. I hope you get the most beautiful bananas now too.

Marlene said...

Ah yes... the sock monsters. I deal with them weekly. Thankfully now, though, it's just mine and hubby's socks. Daughter does her own laundry. Whew.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I stayed up to read this one! Hilarious, because we've probably all been there! "I saw the napkin that had been on the floor for two weeks that needed to be picked up." You speak for all of us. Or at least me. Thank you!

Unknown said...

The Sock Monster is very real and lives under our beds!!!

Shan said...

You and HOB could star in a sitcom together. I'm reading this in the dark as Fynn is allegedly nursing... and trying not to laugh too hard or let out even a peep.

Zuzana said...

Oh this was funny. This certainly shows the difference between women and men, they way we feel about things and the way we connect things and the way we think.
Have you ever seen Mark Gungor explain this? If not, see this and have a laugh:

Your husband might like it too.;)
Have a great day.;)

Shanae Branham said...

I love what you said about socks. You are so right. They aren't the glory item like jeans and towels...etc. I have five kids and do I know laundry. It has grown in size as their ages have increased as you can very well imagine. I enjoyed my visit with you today!

Sueann said...

Thanks for the grins and giggles!! Ha!! You are right about those socks!! They have a mind of their own that is for sure!!!
Glad he "dealt" with the socks!
Your story was fabulous...I loved it!!

Nat said...

Gives a whole new meaning to the saying "Put a sock in it" HOB knows all too well :-)
PS There's an award for you on my blog.

Donna said...

I can Never wait to read one of your stories!Hahaaaa....takes me back!
Happy Laundry!

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

Ahhhh, the world redound sock confrontation!!! Heeehehehe, girl I got such a kick outta this.

Not gonna happen in this house. Hubs wouldn't touch the laundry with a ten foot pole bit I swear sometimes the washer eats socks!!!

God bless and enjoy your day sweetie!!!

Talli Roland said...

SOCKS ARE THE WORST! Honestly, I hate socks, I hate wearing socks, I hate washing socks... sucks suck! :)

This was hilarious, Betty.

LittleSilkDress said...

I finally got around to adding your button to my blog! LOVE IT!

baygirl32 said...

hilarious! I love it

Cheeseboy said...

This is the greatest post on socks I have ever read.

So, are you talking about kids wearing socks outside with no shoes? Oh, that drives my wife batty! You should see my boys socks. They were once white. Now, I don't even know what word I could use to describe the color they are.

Joey Lynn Resciniti said...

This makes our household sock disagreements seem like child's play. Recently, I started putting the socks with the red Hanes word and the black Hanes word together. Hee hee hee.

Also, I've noticed a trend among the girls in 3rd-9th grade. They buy the purposefully mismatched socks. I think the mothers don't even have to put those puppies in balls. Imagine the freedom!

Joanne said...

I had a friend who was the first of our group to get married she was 18 yrs old. she called me in a terrible state about three months after she said "I do" to inform me that she was leaving him."why?" I asked. "he keeps leaving his dirty socks in his shoes and they end up under the bed. she stayed anyway, but imagine if he had cheated? great post. Blessings, Joanne

Cake Betch said...

Hahaha I HAAAATE laundry, but doing the SOCKS in the laundry takes the cake. It is just my boyfriend and I in the house but I swear our socks walk off at least once a month. I haven't seen a pair of my own in three weeks.

Pat said...

Oh my gosh that is funny! Why can't men see things our way?

Baby Sister said...

Lol. That is awesome. Men...they never learn.

Brian (not the cat) said...

I can just see you two going to a marriage counselor and being told to re-enact this incident using sock puppets.

Terri said...

Napkin left on the floor for two weeks? I thought I was the only one who did things like that just to see if anyone else in the house notices ANYTHING!!
....and no they never did!!

Sueann said...

Congrats on your POTW award

Anonymous said...

Ahh, yes. All those little tasks we women deal with every day that go unnoticed. Love this post.

Congrats on your POTW !!


Friko said...

Yes, I agree with Hilary, that was very funny.
Glad your major sock-sorting days are over.

Cheryl Kohan said...

I came back to tell you congratulations on the Post of the Week! But then I see that I didn't comment the first time I was here so who knows where my brain was.

In any case, this is a terrific post. Socks have been the bane of my existence for many years. Thank goodness the kids are gone and I only have to deal with Jack's.

Unknown said...

Great, funny post Betty. And congrats on POTW!

Heather said...

I love you. You had me at, "tears of beauty".

A new bag of socks is such a luxury!!

I would love to implement your husband's plan, but five different sizes for five different kids!! If you could pass along any tips from him it would be appreciated.

(Nice to mee you. Popped over from Joey's blog.)