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The odd socks controversy.

Anthropologists, however, are more convinced than ever that socks were even somehow involved in the creation of the universe. One radical new theory says that life on earth began when a visitor from another planet accidentally dropped a sock on the earth's surface, probably while doing his laundry. This view is supported by ancient Mayan ruins, which look like stupidly built condominiums until they are seen from the air. The outlines of these communities look distinctly like socks with holes in them.

"This would explain the appearance of UFOs over clotheslines and dryers in recent years," says Dr. Noah Bedford, chief of research for the Institute of Unexplained Phenomema. "UFO sightings are particularly prevalent on Monday--America's traditional wash day. Anyone who has ever lost a sock can understand why that spaceman is so determined to find his. The fact is, every time he sees a human being, our extraterrestrial friend is, in effect, finding the sock he lost so many millions of years ago."

In more recent history, the great Odd Socks Dilemma (OSD) is the motivating force behind many of the great wonders of the world. For example:

--King Tut's tomb contained 1,111 gilded socks, most of them unmatched. (The 1,112th has never been located).

--The Great Pyramid, according to hieroglyphics found at the structure's base, was built primarily to attract mystically disappearing socks so that they could be restored to their owners. (Modern proponents of pyramid power say the triangular design does indeed attract odd socks, but not their own. Thus they are stuck with not only their own unmatched socks, but someone else' as well, demonstrating the folly of dabbling in the occult.)

--The American Revolution began not with the Boston Tea Party (a legend fostered by the country's powerful tea interests) but with the New Jersey Socks Massacre, a murderous affair during which hundreds of American socks were seized and multilated by drunken British soldiers. (For a detailed account, read Smithson Wagner's Give Me My Socks Back or Give Me Death!)

--General Lee finally surrendered to Grant not because the South was defeated but because the Confederate army ran totally out of matching socks, a condition "completely unacceptable for Southern gentlemen" (in General Lee's words).

Today, the tragedy of OSS has grown to such proportions that it dominates nearly every American home. The 1982 Lippencott Poll showed that "Worry Over Mismatched Socks" was the leading cause of anxiety among 87 percent of Americans; "Fear of Nuclear War" ran second (11 percent) and "Fear of Fear Itself" ran third (1.5 percent).

"No one knows where they go, or what they do when they get there," said a typically hysterical respondent in Lippencott's survey. "No one is safe from OSS. It isn't even hereditary or confined to perverse subcultures, such as the Democratic party. I wish it would go away. I wish you would go away."

Exactly how and when do socks disappear?

"We have pretty much established that socks disappear somewhere between the actual washing and the (Illegible data) processes," explains Dr. Linus. "During controlled experiments we have actually tied socks together from the time they come off the foot and go into the laundry basket until they go inot the washer. Thus we know the socks do not escape at least until they reach the washer."

Researchers are still unable to determine, however, if the phenomenon occurs during washing, drying or transport from laundry room to bedroom. Dr. Margaret Masters believes it occurs during the second spin cycle on Permanent Press. "We hardly ever have sock disappearance when we wash on the 'Normal' setting, which has only one spin cycle," she explains. "It seems clear to me that some kind of metaphysical transference takes place only during the second spin cycle."

Many researchers, however, maintain that socks do not just disappear but are somehow transmigrated into another world.

Dr. Grant Mello, head of the socktheology department at Harvard University, believes that disappearing socks have gone to A Better Place.

"Do socks have souls?" he asks rhetorically. "Shoes have soles, so why not socks? Certainly, socks are capable of great holiness, particularly as they mature. Not to appear selfrighteous, but I myself am wearing a pair of holy socks at this very moment."

While the world awaits a breakthrough on the mystery of OSS, practical steps can be taken to minimize the trauma by Odd Socks Syndrome.

1. It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your socks are? Sure, you think they're safe and secure in their little drawer. But when was the last time you checked on those blue argyles you hardly ever wear? Are you sure your six pairs of black stretch socks are correctly matched? Do you honestly believe your wife's story that she doesn't know where that size-12 sock came from?

2. Start an OSS network. Heartbroken neighbors have drawers filled with unmated socks. Invite them over, throw your socks in a pile and see how many you can match up. About 10 percent of all lost socks are reunited in this way. And, you will find out who owns that size-12 sock.

3. Don't be afraid to report missing socks to the police. Many police departments now have a special Odd Socks Division. Remember, police are people too, and they want to put an end to OSS as much as you do.

4. Seek competent counseling from a minister or a priest. Even scientists now recognize that OSS cannot be fully explained in natural terms. As Dr. Linus phrases it: "Some Higher Power is at work. We have to believe that in the midst of all this chaos there is A Plan."

5. Remember: You are not alone. Well, on second thought, you probably are. Victims of OSS tend to feel they have enough to worry about without thinking of others. Forget number 5.

6. Remember: Although 10 percent of soicks eventually disappear, 90 percent will stay with you from high school until you die. Don't imprison all your socks because of the few that may disappear. Let your socks fly freely. "If they come back to you, they are yours forever, and if they don't come back, they were never truly yours to begin with." (From an idiotic sunset-and-seagulls poster hanging in every college dorm room in America.)

7. Support OSS research. You may never live to see the end of OSS and the subsequent unlocking of the mysteries of the universe, but your children will. The they'll be free to explore the other, lesser questions of life, such as: "Why does the car always stop making that awful grinding noise as soom as there's a mechanic around?"
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Title Annotation:satire
Author:Roberts, D.W.
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Sep 1, 1984
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