Farm Ireland

Thursday 14 December 2017

Opinion: Orphan socks and the meaning of life

Our writer gets a kick out of reuniting socks
Our writer gets a kick out of reuniting socks
Ann Fitzgerald

Ann Fitzgerald

Of the big questions we all face, there is one that is strangely unsolved - what happens to socks that get lost in the wash?

It would help if I only knew when socks go missing.

The stages in the process of discarding a worn sock until it becomes available for wearing again are: getting into the laundry basket, being sorted for washing, loading of the washing machine, unloading of same, ditto the clothes line and, lastly, drying on the radiator.

Some separation of pairs at the sorting stage is common - one cream sock may be swept up into the white wash, the other into the colour wash.

So when I first notice that one of a pair is missing, I'm not bothered, feeling that they will meet up with each again shortly. But I sometimes have to accept that one has gone astray.

For some reason, I seem to care greatly about these orphans. So I get a kick out of seeing a pair reunited. Of course, no matter how long a sock lies on the floor waiting for its partner, as soon as I throw the one out, the other will invariably reappear.

It seems that many of the socks which disappear are brighter, newer ones - leading me to wonder whether they aren't being whisked off the line by the fairies for use as sleeping bags.

Or maybe some socks get fed up with the endless cycle of washing, drying, smelly feet; so they head off and merge with other similar individuals into a giant patchwork magic carpet, whizzing around the world.

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But I think the drying-on-rad stage may be the main danger area.

Some clothes always fall down the gap between the rad and the wall. Every so often, an item of clothing will peek out the bottom, swaddled in generations of cobwebs.

Or I may go in search of them.

The handle of the sweeping brush is too wide for this poking job. So I have to borrow a skinny bamboo stake from the garden or a short stretch of wavin from the tool shed. The contingent question is what to do about all these break-ups.

Once, I thought I'd be smart and started buying bundles of matching work socks for the farmer. So if one went missing, there would always be another to make up a pair.

He tends to wear the heels of his socks and the inevitable result of this trial was mismatched new/old couples. Now, he rarely complains but a thin-heeled sock is one thing he just can't bear.

Or maybe we need to wear non-matching socks?

What a conundrum.

Perhaps I'll go back to pondering the meaning of life.

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