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At last: missing socks for world peace

May 28, 2007
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I admit to doing an Internet search today, “where do missing socks go?” I was not the first. My plight is common. Everyone has a theory. I was gratified to see that some of the really bizarre theories I would not even admit to having had already been propounded.

I’ve been burned before by the missing sock menace, but this is the first time one failed to turn up after an exhaustive search. I searched every sleeve and every pant leg, every article of clothing in which a covert sock might nestle. I removed all the drawers from the dresser thinking it slithered over the top of its own drawer and was in the dresser frame. It was in none of the obvious places: not in the upside-down built-in sock-catcher in the dryer, nor in the washer under the ring, nor behind either appliance. It wasn’t caught on the edge of the bed this time, and did not slip underneath the bed while I was folding the laundry. And as it happens, I make sure all my socks are paired before consigning them to the drawer, and there is no way I would have missed a new Smartwool orchid wildflower sock from a $12 pair. The missing sock should have been with its mate in the drawer. Instead, there was a single new Smartwool orchid wildflower sock in my drawer Sunday. A search of everything in every closet and beneath and behind the dresser and of every item in every drawer and all possible terrestrial nooks failed to turn up the sock. It is missing. So much for the facts.

My Internet search revealed that people all over the sock-wearing world have the same problem: drawers full of orphan socks. I have only one orphan sock, but who knows but that the blight isn’t metastatic? Only my husband does not have this problem. His immunity lies in the fact that all his socks are the same brand, style, and color: Wigwam merino hiker grey. But because I am condemned to wear wool socks daily year-round in my British National Health Lookalike shoes, my socks, all Smartwool merino quarter style, must be various fetching colors. And now I have an expensive orchid wildflower quarter-style orphan.

A few people with missing socks await ransom notes from extraterrestrials. Others are worried their socks were spirited away by malign creatures in order to hex them through their socks. Others compulsively trace and retrace their steps and turn their houses inside out, getting up at night to search new impossible crannies they missed before. God help me, I can see myself doing that.

I needed help. I logged on to the Bureau of Missing Socks. Their humor was helpful and I felt less alone with my problem. But most of their solutions, after the usual explanations of coat hangers, ferrets, and alien tractor beams, were commercial. I did find encouragement in one of their theories, that socks are actually equipped with homing beams and eventually make it home from Lost Sock Planet.

But what if people from every warring nation and tribe asked their government to negotiate an orphan sock trade to restore broken pairs? People from all over the planet, trading orphan socks so everyone would regain the boon of a matched pair…a cabinet-level bureaucracy to oversee reunited socks: think of it.  A U.N. sock orphanage could be on the horizon.

I know; I thought it was a stupid idea too. I’m demented with grief. I miss my Smartwool orchid wildflower quarter sock terribly. 

UPDATE:  Be sure to read the sequel, Extradition

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