Getting rid of a thing is the surest way to need it

Sunday, February 10, 2019

This, that and then some

I used to keep the partners of every sock my family ever lost on the off chance that someday their sole mates would return. It was wishful thinking, considering some of them probably went missing while we were living in our last house, and we left there more than 20 years ago.

Then an acquaintance needed socks for a craft project, so I gave her some and tossed the rest, and it felt good to be rid of them. But it’s a law of the universe, as reliable as gravity, that shortly after you finally dispose of something, even something you haven’t used in years, you’ll suddenly wish you had it.

I had foot surgery in December. It wasn’t serious. I did start getting … uh … cold feet right before the procedure but it turned out to be fairly easy. In fact, I slept right through it.

Recovery was harderespecially for my husband. I needed to keep my foot up for a few days and yelling for help every time I needed something was inconvenient—for him.

But it wasn’t an easy time for me either. Showering was a challenge. Several times, while I was maneuvering in an out of the shower trying to keep my bandaged foot dry, I almost broke my leg.

And getting a pant leg over the bandages was so hard that I was tempted to wear pajamas my first day back to work.

Naturally, I also needed socks. Fortunately, I have some sleep socks that are big enough to fit over the bandages and into my surgical shoe. Unfortunately, they’re too big to fit into my other shoe. And that’s when my bag of widowed, separated and divorced socks would have come in handy. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just wear a sock one day and its partner the next. How naïve. Anyone who thinks it’s that simple probably also thinks socks only go missing in the dryer.

Those of us who have studied the phenomenon of missing socks know that the minute a sock is left alone, it’s in danger. I’ve had socks go missing from the laundry basket and from the heap of dirty clothes beside the laundry basket. I’ve had them wander away from the pile of clean, unfolded laundry on the couch. I’ve even had them go missing while I’ve been sitting on my bed, putting on their partner.

And now, they’re disappearing off the top of my dresser, which is where I’ve been keeping them while I wear their mate and they wait their turn. At least I thought that’s where I was keeping them.

Eventually, I got my bandages off. You have to be pretty impressed by medical staff who can remove bandages from a foot that hasn’t been washed in weeks. I was so excited about washing it again that I thought about having a little celebration, maybe inviting some people over to watch. I didn’t, but I thought about it. They could have helped me look for my socks.

I’d hoped that once I got the bandages off, life would return to normal for me and my sock drawer. But my foot isn’t quite ready to jam into a real shoe yet, so I’m still wearing my surgical shoe and mismatched socks. And once again, I have a big collection of single socks. Not only that; I’m missing a shoe.

Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact drosby@rushmore.com .

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