‘I’m going to be late for school Mum,’ I heard him shout. ‘Can’t find any socks.’
Nothing new then I thought. He can never find any socks! That’s teenagers for you! Messy, disorderly, thoroughly untidy. Yes, and he’s always complaining and moaning about something.
Hum! He wants to try living the life of a sock. I’m just sick of it. Never imagined it to be so hard, but I’ve no option now. I’m a sock! One of the many millions who lives a disillusioned and lonely life. It was never meant to be like this. Was it?
In the factory, when we were all ready for packaging prior to distribution, we were warned about the life we were about to be hurled into, but none of us took the warnings seriously. Can’t be that bad we thought. We had all made the lifelong decision. Yes, we had chosen the life of a sock. Hum, where were wrong?
Well our mission was to protect, keep warm, look trendy and more. We were to be sent out in pairs and our partners were chosen carefully. Life partners we were supposed to be. Working together for the welfare of our owner. Quite a responsibility. I was luckier than some. Not some plain old school sock, grey and boring. No, I was one of the trendy ones. Shiny and black with yellow heels and toes. Very proud of the look I was. I was placed in a pack with a few others, all with the same mission. We were distinguishable as pairs because each pair was given a different colour toe and heel. We looked good.
So, what went wrong?
Well this is my story…
It all began one Saturday morning. It was early, nevertheless the store had already been open for a couple of hours and we were all getting restless. We didn’t expect to be on the shelf long, because the sales turnover was quite rapid. But, we were bored. We wanted to get to work. A few times it looked as though we were going to be purchased. We soon realised that people liked to pick things up and look at them. Hold them and run their fingers over them. Their faces would go blank and we knew their minds were ticking over. Do we really want to take these home, or not? Picked up, put down. Finally, someone made the choice. Yes! We had a new owner.
At the checkout, disappointingly we were soon thrown into a bag – not nicely placed – then tons of things were stuffed on top of us. Now I knew I could cope, but some of the others in the pack weren’t too happy, especially my partner who was quite bewildered. I knew what she was thinking. Yes, she expected to be taken home in a nice bag, handled carefully and placed in a drawer or cabinet until needed. Well not so! From that first day life was tough.
The drive home was fine but the bag was yanked out of the car, carried briskly into the house and, handled quite roughly as its contents were tipped onto a table, to wait sifting. Good thing there were no eggs in there I thought as we were pushed around only to have a battle with the beetroot and coleslaw. Which nearly caused staining before we had even been used, by the way. And it wasn’t our fault that the top came off the coleslaw, now was it?
Well, this turned out to be our first encounter with, the teenager. So, bad tempered, he was. Perhaps he just didn’t like shopping.
Actually, we soon learned there were two teenagers in the house but the younger one was more amenable. Thank goodness, the boy teenager wasn’t going to be our owner we mused, when we were hurled across the room in the direction of his younger sister. ‘Mum bought you some new socks,’ he snapped.
So, that was the beginning of life in the Thompson household.
We survived for several months which is quite excellent because we soon discovered the life expectancy of a sock is short.
We managed to avoid getting lost and separated on numerous occasions.
Life was interesting but challenging.
We went to this place and that.
Then the day that we had been warned about befell us.
Now we had been in the washer before, though not too often ‘cos the teenagers didn’t seem to like washing. But there was something different about this day. We all felt it.
Waiting in the basket with lots of other socks, some of which had gotten very smelly and horrible. It was a most unpleasant experience. We were left to linger there for ages and then dragged and stuffed into the washer. Overcrowding an understatement. The trauma began.
The girl teenager clearly didn’t have a clue how to work the machine but was being obedient having been constantly nagged by the adult in the household to help with the chores.
The overcrowding meant we couldn’t breathe. Then, the detergent came in, far too much of it and we all began to feel sick. Hanging onto my partner tightly, aware that if not careful we could get separated; the water came gushing in. And it was freezing cold! We just sat there shivering for a while and slowly the water started to get hotter. But then hotter and hotter! And, I’m sure we were in there far too long, being shaken and stirred and then suddenly, there was an awful cranking sound. A furious shaking followed, then spinning and spinning and more spinning. We were prised apart, separated. But what I couldn’t understand is why we were never reconciled. Surely, we should have found each other when we were all removed and put out to dry. But it didn’t happen.
Weeks passed by, unwanted, unloved. Of no use to anyone. Knowing that we would eventually be thrown out. Wondering where did all those lost socks go? Our partners! Were they eaten by the washer? Well there was no other answer, they went in and never came out. So, many of us had lost our partners and very few people wanted one sock, so we were doomed.
Waiting in the basket I heard that familiar moan again.
‘Mum, I’m going to be late for school. I can’t find any socks.’
‘There’s a basket full by the washer, ‘she replied.
‘But they’re no good mum. They’re all odd.’
So, the search for a pair of socks continued. A regular occurrence in the Johnson household.
Then one day someone came to stay. A quirky, most unusual character. His name Uncle Eddie. Everyone seemed excited about his visit and the expression ‘re cycled teenager’ was branded around. What could they mean I wondered? Well, all was soon to be revealed.
Uncle Eddie was a most peculiar looking character. I would have bet my life on it he was over 70 years old but he was dressed like. Well, like a teenager! But a teenager with a difference.
Everyone suddenly wanted to hang out with Uncle Eddie. He was cool man.
Eccentric in his ways, mannerisms, and dress.
One thing that I noticed was that he always wore odd socks.
‘What’s this with socks Uncle Eddie,’ asked Johnny Thompson one day.
‘I always wear odd socks,’ he exclaimed. I like to be different.’
Well he surely was that. Nothing matched. He was colourful to say the least.
Uncle Eddie seemed to have a marked influence on all the teenagers who came to visit and they soon bonded with him. Not to mention his individual style. Suddenly everyone was wearing odd socks AND braces. Oh, did I mention the braces?
A few days passed and the most amazing thing happened. Uncle Eddie began rummaging in the basket of odd socks and pulled me out. Added to which he found a bright yellow sock with orange spots. Whaaat? Where did she come from? I never even saw her in the basket. But then, I wouldn’t would I as we were all so scrunched up in there? Shock, horror! He put me on the left foot and the psychedelic orange spotty sock on the right.
‘That’s a fine pair,’ he exclaimed.
Was he mad?
If my other half could see me now she would be devastated. This was never meant to be. I was clearly made for a girl teenager not an Uncle Eddie. And I was once a perfect pair. What a nightmare.
But thereby began the story of the rest of my life. I never saw the inside of that basket again. In fact, when the time came for Uncle Eddie to leave I went with him. I never had to face the trauma of the dreaded washer again. ‘Cos Eddie didn’t have one! Oh, he washed. Occasionally! But by hand. Then he pegged me and all his other socks on a string line at the bottom of his garden. The peg squeezed a bit but you got used to it after a while. He often left us on the line for days but that didn’t bother me ‘cos I loved the fresh air and the breeze.
The problem was I was just getting used to my new partner- the bright yellow sock with orange spots – and we were starting to have fun. But when he pegged us out, we were separated. Never to be together again. What is it with disappearing socks? Is there such a place as sock heaven? Anyway, along came my new partner. A red novelty Christmas sock with a gingerbread and Christmas pudding design. Incompatible, but Uncle Eddie loved the match.
So, I suppose you would say I finally got used to living life, as an odd sock.
And, although I often thought of my first partner with sadness and wondered what had become of her. Life took on a new meaning. Adventure after adventure, I went. Life was interesting but challenging? I went to this place and that.
I came to the realisation that sometimes in life, good is born out of something bad. I was one of the lucky ones. I had learnt to adapt.
Perhaps the choice I made all that time ago to live my life as a sock won’t be so bad after all I thought.
Anna McKann © December 2016