Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Oh Sock, Where Art Thou?

There have been unsolved mysteries since the beginning of history. Did Atlantis really exist? How was Stonehenge built and what was it used for? What was the fate of the little Princes in the Tower? What happened to Amelia Earhart? But the biggest unsolved mystery of all...

When two socks go into the washer, why does only one sock come out the dryer?

I have a pile of socks waiting for their mates. I'm not talking about 2 or 3 socks, I'm talking about a lot. I know, however, the moment I decide to get rid of them, the other sock will materialize. I know this for sure.

I've looked under beds. I've looked under and behind sofas. I've looked behind the washer and dryer. No socks.

Where did that other sock go?

There are unproved theories. The rings of Saturn are actually made up of single socks. The missing socks go into the same vortex as lost luggage. There is a compartment inside every dryer that sucks up one sock. If you find the compartment, you'll find the socks.

Socks were one of the first items of clothing worn by early man. These 'socks' were animal skins gathered up around the ankles and worn to protect the feet and keep them warm. Ancient Greeks used matted animal hair. By 1000 AD, wearing socks was a sign of wealth among the nobility.

This tells me missing socks have been around since the dawn of time. There were misplaced socks hiding in the back of the cave, or dropped on the way back from the river. I'll bet if you looked under the stones at any ancient Greek ruins you would discover ancient Greek socks. Middle Ages socks were probably eaten by wandering livestock or put into stews.

Meanwhile, back in the present...

I don't want to make sock bunnies. I don't want to use it as a duster. I don't want to find out new and crafty ways for these single socks to better my life.

I just want the other sock.

Or a trip to Saturn to discover if the rings theory is correct.

By the way, I offer one possible solution to the Princes in the Tower in my current WiP.


  1. Please let me know if you ever find that secret compartment in the dryer. I've looked for years. I think it moves around on little sock-covered feet when we look.

    And . . . I have an award for you to pick up at my blog.

  2. Sorry Elspeth, I have yet to solve the mystery of the missing socks. You have really cool socks though, hope you find those mates!

  3. Elspeth - Have you ever heard Jerry Seinfeld's routine about missing socks? It's funny! He claims that they plan escapes together. Actually, though, I'm glad you bring this kind of daily mystery up. It's important to remember that those little mysteries can give us clues to larger ones. In Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, for instance, the fact that a chair has been slightly moved for no appararent reason gives Hercule Poirot an important clue to the murder he's investigating. Maybe those missing socks are connected to something bigger...

  4. Carol; I'll let you know. And thanks for the award!

    Deb; It is one of life's biggest mysteries, worthy, i think, of a Canada Council grant.

    Margot; I have seen Jerry Seinfeld's routine and found it hilarious. I wasn't trying to be profound in the post, I was trying to be light and funny. However, you're absolutely right. It COULD be connected to something bigger...where's Oliver Stone when you need him?

  5. Here's my theory: sockicide.

    Tired of being trod on their entire lives, nerves frayed from repeated abuse, the poor sock unravels and decides it's not worth going on. They give up their soles.

    And you find what's left of them in the lint trap.

  6. Someone (maybe you, Elspeth) has to weave this into a mystery novel! We, too, have many sad and lonely half-pairs here. And now that we have four sock-wearers, we have them in all sizes and colors.

    You can truly turn anything into a mystery.

  7. Alan; That's brilliant! Maybe we can get some big celebrity to do a telethon. Your explanation evoked emotion from my sole.

    Michele; It would be a fun mystery to write, wouldn't it? With all the socks in my household I've tried to keep different colours for different people, but the socks still go missing.

  8. LOL, Elspeth. Once, Erma Bombeck suggested having a Sock Swap. Everyone would meet somewhere with their mis-matched socks and see how many pairs could be made.

  9. Maryann; The brilliant Erma. She always made (and makes) me laugh.

  10. I love the idea that the rings of Saturn are made of single socks! I feel your pain. With five of us in the house, I'm forever looking for sock mates. I'm all for a sock swap!

  11. My mom solved the mystery long ago. They go into the sockosphere.

  12. Stacy; Sounds good to me. Where should we all meet?

    Elisa; Your mother is very wise. Probably comes from living in Sag Harbor among the beautiful people.

  13. It is a universal problem, isn't it? Some things will just remain mysteries forever, I guess.

  14. Those sheep took them!

    I'm with you, I wonder what happens to the darned things. I bought my daughter a HUGE packet of socks from they'd ALL match. And I can't seem to find any of them! It's the most bizarre thing.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  15. Karen; It seems to be universal; I wonder if aliens have the same issue!

    Elizabeth; Of course, the sheep! Aren't you clever.

  16. I’ve often wondered about the missing sock syndrome. I solved the problem by moving to Florida so I could give up wearing socks!

  17. When you die you go into a large room where all the missing socks are and all the folks you dealt with in life - you need to work with them to all match up socks and then you get to go onto the next level. You need to co-operate and also you get a chance to really catch up on all the conversations you've been missing. This is absolutely true. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I have no dryer so not sure what will happen with me. Also, my sweet patootie bought twenty (!) pairs of identical black socks a few years ago. Great idea only little cotton wormy things fall off them still! I hate those gall darned socks!

  18. A universal mystery to be sure. I have a pile on the top of my dryer of solo socks. My daughter has just given up on finding 2 to match. :)

  19. Who knew socks could be so interesting?

    Now that my husband and I don't have any kids around the house, socks are no longer a problem. I always have an even number of matching socks. It's exciting.

    I have concluded that socks go missing because children and teenagers use them for other things, such as carrying tennis balls or making chew toys for the dog (stuffing one sock with other socks and tying off the end).

  20. My dad used to accuse my mother of having a one-legged lover because of the missing socks. After they divorced, she found a boyfriend with a wooden leg. (True story, I kid you not.) She got him back.

  21. Jane; You were smart. But, does it move on to missing sandels?

    Jan; I'm not sure that's a comforting thought; I may drown in an endless sea of socks!

    Jemi; Sometimes it's just best to throw in the towel. Or the sock.

    Patricia; You lead a fabled life. In my household adult socks are also listed among the missing.

    Elizabeth; LOL!! Once again, truth is stranger than fiction.

  22. I think that the tumble effect of most dryers opens a small space in reality and the socks just fall through to an alternate reality. Eventually they get washed there and returned which is why thye occasionally show up.
    Maybe not - but it is as good a theory as any.

  23. If you ever find out, do let me know. Though all the theories here seem equally likely.

  24. I too have always been baffled by the one sock mystery. I'm interested to read your theory on the Princess in the Tower. I've been working on one myself about Atlantis :)



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