Earthworms’ Castings

With Jean Ponzi

Sock Monster

Black socks
They never get dirty
The longer you wear them
The blacker they get
Some day
I think I will wash them
But something inside me
Is saying “Not yet!”

It’s true I don’t wash “sox” every time I wear them, but not because they are all black. I do conserve energy and water – and use mild laundry products – all of which are GREEN commitments. Yay for me!

But here’s my little guilty secret: I don’t need to wash often due to having multiple dozens of sox styles to choose from.

Many women collect things: Handbags, Jewelry, Husbands, Shoes. In another era, it was Hats women loved to have many of, and sacrificed to get a new one. I acquire vivid insulating footwear.

Among those who know me well, my Sock Drawer is a legend: super organized, by color. This in contrast to every other kind of space I occupy (at home, at work) where I manage stuff of all kinds, simply, in Piles. I joke about it, claiming I’m Descended from Mound Builders. And I take refuge, professionally, in sharing my milieu of employment (the Missouri Botanical Garden) with certain Botanists whose offices are amazingly more chaotic than mine. Hah! Reputation saved by science!

But in my Sock Drawer, order reigns.
Sort of. That legend, like me, is aging. Truth be known, it’s pretty jammed up in there these days. Because I scout for cool pairs without de-acquisitioning, that drawer is way the heftiest of the six in my dresser. Blacks are crowding out the Blues. My SmartWool Striped Sox (wear like iron!) in pride of place at drawer front, are puttin’ the squeeze even on my Oranges/Reds and Green ones.

I can pull out a pair to match any color and pattern combination in an outfit, for warm and cold weather, subtle or loud, for holidays or general use. And I do, and I proudly sport them in business, creative or casual settings. I love Interesting Socks!
But what to do when my socks get outdated, infrequently as this occurs?

Back in 2005, I coveted (and bought) the book Stupid Sock Creatures, by an artsy young guy named John Murphy. This lavishly illustrated cartoony DIY printed paradise promoted “making quirky, lovable figures from cast-off socks.” I combed through my historical pairs (and my husband’s semi-kaput socks) and rounded up sacks of Sock Monster potentials. What an opportunity!

I yearned to make stupid characters. Back then, I wanted to make Sock Monsters so badly I could barely sleep. Certainly I wasn’t lacking Monster Material. I was so excited, I showed off the book at work, where my Green Building colleague Emily borrowed it and promptly created two darling recycled-knit novelties for her little nephew.

But my brain doesn’t work as a Monster-Maker. Despite a mental desire, I wasn’t motivated to actually whack into my collection and try my hand at whipping up toe-headed creatures. Crafty is just not how I function. My longings are at odds with my ability to imagine an outcome, and do it.

So my fabulous cache of stretched-out college Knee Socks, unbelievably uncomfortable 1980s Toe Socks, too-scratchy Wool Socks and lovely holey Ankle Socks remains down in the basement of my home (and psyche), in faint hopes that a clever reuse day will dawn, for my sock stash and for me.

Meanwhile, from that famous bulging drawer, exactly the right pair steps out to complement whatever I wear. Tiny sun-colored flowers, perfectly matching that new scarf? They’re in there. Faire Isle in exactly the hues of a favorite sweater? Check.
Summer-weight watermelon motif? Yummy! Cat heads with rainbow eyes? Bluebirds of Happiness? Cardinals perched on pine boughs? Glittering spiderwebs? Smiley faces? Tie-dyed? Argyle? Neon green recycling symbols?

Sorry, world of monsters, I have not got the gumption to embody your soles.
But any attire will meet its perfect match in my Sock Drawer. Anytime. Neatly.

Jean Ponzi holds forth on profound as well as mundane topics, weekly, in her KDHX Earthworms Podcasts. Pick ‘em up at Earthworms.kdhXtra.org, or through iTunes.