Socks – Lost and Wandering

I don’t understand it. I have one single sock of each kind and color that I wear. They do not wear out in pairs. They do not disappear from the dryer in pairs. One sock at a time expires, or goes AWOL, leaving me with multiple single socks and mild frustration.

I wear wool socks, either Smartwool or Vermont Country Store knee-high dress socks. I have worn these kinds since, oh, VCS dates back to high school, and Smartwool since ThorLo stopped being easily available. They are different weights, so I have dress shoes that fit the VCS socks and everything else works with both. Plus I have really heavy-duty thick monsters for mid-winter, because there is little in this life as miserable as an Alma with wet, cold feet.

Socks wear out. Happens to all of us. But over the past year, they have worn out unevenly, leaving me with one short brown sock, one short black sock, one long brown, one long black, one black dress sock, and one brown dress sock. And the shades are different enough that I can’t wear brown and black together.

I think it’s a conspiracy. The moths in my closet that are eating the threads holding my buttons on have a wager on with my socks to see who can drive me up a tree first. Thus far the button-moths are ahead. But the socks are gaining.


[I have had buttons fall off shirts, blouses, a waistcoat, trousers, a skirt, and two off of a dress in the past ten days. It’s supposed to be leaves that get shed in autumn, not buttons!]

Edited to add: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Thank you for stopping by. And it is now up to nine fallen buttons as of this AM. In 10 days. I think someone sprayed my closet with defoliant!

26 thoughts on “Socks – Lost and Wandering

  1. “I put 12 pairs of socks in the dryer once, took 12 out, and none of them matched.” – Ray Stevens

  2. I’m vaguely remembering a theory someone posted on USENET, back in the day (which seems no longer findable), regarding the disappearance of odd socks and the inexplicable tendency of socks to wear out at the toe.
    It’s aliens! Specifically, alien sock miners. (This is from fading memory, so details are sketchy.)
    The rotating electrostatic field created within a working dryer facilitates the opening of dimensional portals.
    Sock miners open a small portal and reach through with a special implement, grabbing one sock at a time by the toe.
    Ordinarily, they try to snag matched pairs. If they succeed, the owner of the socks seldom notices, because his remaining socks are still in matched pairs.
    Often, though, the second sock of the pair can’t be snagged before the dryer turns off and the field collapses. Or, the field collapses while extraction is in progress, so the miner ends up with just the toe and the original owner is left with a sock with a hole in the toe.

    Terry Pratchett gave a related, though magical, explanation.

  3. My personnel opinion is that socks are the larval form of alien life forms. After nourishing themselves on foot sweat and dead skin, they metamorpihize into coat hangers. Dryer heat activates the change and then they teleport to the closet.

    • Entirely plausible. I can’t think how Avram Davidson failed to mention that part of the life cycle.

    • I am pretty sure that paper clips are the larval form or clothes hangers. You can never find a paper clip when you need one, they just keep disappearing. And clothes hangers multiply by the dozens! But don’t tell anyone I said this, I think the clothes hangers want it to be a secret…
      I cribbed this idea from an author I can’t remember to credit….

      • Yeah, I remember reading that story, kinda’ cribbed the idea also. No, I don’t remember the author either.

  4. Daughter deliberately buys bags of mismatched. She has maybe 3 pair if matched good ones, used for important events and then washed separately.

    Mismatch aocks are part of her thing, and make kids and her fellow staff laugh.

      • Bad kypad spelling. But, matching aurochs make an aurochestra? Great wind and percussion sections.

          • Modern Major General Dynetics would be happy to hear your RFP.

            V.I.M. is willing to provide the plans for free, so long as you are flexible about danger close distances.

            I hear Rex Mason is offering a discount on the plans for his latest design, because he wants them to move fast.

  5. I have only very rarely encountered the (in)famous Sock Parity Error*. And even then I find a stray fell out of the basket on the way to or from the washing machine or got stuck in the dryer. There has been some uneven wear, but not much. And I don’t do anything special like binding sock pairs together or such. Heck, it’s a Rare Event if I even bother sorting laundry by colors.

    * One more reason I “identify as mythical” – ‘normal’ freaky phenomena seem to run and hide from me.

  6. I was plagued with this for many years with my civilian socks, until my military experience gave me the answer. While on active duty I had two types of uniform sox. Lighter ones for wearing with low quarters, heavier ones for boots. All of them black. Thus if one of a pair got a hole or went AWOL, it didn’t matter. I just held onto the survivor until another pair suffered a casualty, then put the two survivors together.

    I have since applied this strategy to my civilian socks. I buy only one kind of sock, same manufacturer/brand/style. Half of them are in tan, the other half in dark blue. This color palette goes with everything I own — I am not a sartorial splendor, I just try to keep from shocking the public conscience when I go out. When the dryer eats a tan one, no problem, his mate goes on the back of the shelf until there is another casualty. Same for the blues.

    • This is also my solution. Unfortunately when it comes to wool socks I somehow always end up with a variety. I used to get these Smartwool ones that came in a four pack for about the price of 2 1/2 pair. Unfortunately while they were all identical as far as build (height, thickness, etc.) went they always came in three colors (no idea why you got two pair of gray/green and only one each of gray/red and gray/blue) I have since switched to Fox River, but I still have a couple pair of Smartwool that haven’t worn out (plus at least one single without a match, at least I know what happened to it’s match, it was destroyed) and somehow ended up with two totally unmatched types of Fox River wool socks. At least for summertime I have only two types of cotton socks, the regular crew height ones, and then the tall boot socks for wearing in my taller boots (I like 14-16″ boots) all Dickeys black ones. The black doesn’t show stains πŸ˜‰

  7. My simpler solution is not to wear socks at all. Of course this is only effective because I don’t work.

  8. Step 1: Buy a small package of safety pins. Step 2: When you take your socks off, take a moment to pin them together.
    Step 3: They go through the washer and dryer. Step 4: They come out TOGETHER. I have done this for years, and if you do this with a new pair of socks, they will grow old and die together. The only really useful piece of advice I ever got from a management consultant.

  9. Ren and Stimpy solved that mystery back in the 1980’s.

    I always buy at least two pair or more so I don’t end up with singles. At least for a while.

  10. The axis of the drum of the clothes dryer is fixed and rotating. It is stationary and moving! This conundrum causes a dimensional rift.
    When a tumbling sock crosses the axis exactly it migrates to another dimension.

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