As I’ve mentioned I’ve been making a real effort this week to get things organized and tidy. This endeavor has involved catching up on laundry, which has included a mission to match up all of the stray socks that have been floating around.
Unmatched, stray, or lonely socks seem to be a common household problem, and seem to have various names attached to them. When I was a kid we kept them in one of the big popcorn tins, known as the Lonely Sock Bin. Periodically (I think largely when my parents needed us quiet and safely occupied), my sister and I would be parked somewhere with the Lonely Sock Bin, on a mission to create pairs. It seemed that regardless of how full the Lonely Sock Bin was or how long we worked on it we rarely matched up more than a few pairs of socks. The socks stayed lonely.
I’ve heard many theories as to the cause of the lonely/mismatched/stray sock problem. To name a few:
They get sucked into the drain of the washing machine and are gone forever. I don’t think I believe this one. First, I’m pretty sure that many socks being sucked into the drain of the washing machine would eventually clog it. Second, similarly sized items don’t seem to disappear at the same rate socks do. Third, my dad worked in water and wastewater for most of my life. We saw a lot of weird things floating around in some of the tanks and ponds, but never socks.
One of the more interesting theories I recently read (on someone's blog, I can't for the life of me remember which one) is that dryer lint is in fact the cremated remains of your missing socks. This theory has some potential, though it’s a little hard to explain the dryer lint from the loads that didn’t have socks.
Then there’s my dad’s pet theory; that your missing socks have actually been thrown behind the dryer by your spouse or children when they’re frustrated, angry, bored, annoyed, etc. My dad has some definite conspiracy theory leanings. We really didn’t throw his socks behind the dryer. As far as I know, my mom still doesn’t, though we like to joke that she has to work triple time tossing them behind the dryer since my sister and I moved out. Oddly enough, there has never been a stash of socks found behind the dryer any time it has been moved, though this isn’t enough to make my dad abandon his theory.
I think, though, that I have discovered the real reason why socks disappear, or at least the real reason they disappear at our house. We have a sock gremlin. He runs around when we’re not home, feasting on socks, thereby gaining power to run around faster and feast on more socks. It’s a vicious cycle.
I suspect our sock gremlin is invisible; there has never been a sighting and he hasn’t been hunted down and killed by the quirky quartet of cats. I think it’s because he’s invisible, which it makes it impossible for them to catch him.
Our sock gremlin seems to like variety in his diet; he very rarely eats an entire pair of socks. No, he much prefers one sock from several different pairs, especially if they’re totally different and the survivors can’t possibly be passed off as matching pair in a pinch.
So what about you? Do you have a sock gremlin? Do you believe any of these theories? Do you have another theory?