— Dario Calmese
Cashmere. Argyle. Striped. Solid. Ankle. Knee. Knitted. Ribbed. So many choices for something rarely visible: the humble sock. A sartorial workhorse – they capture and absorb the daily .25 pints of sweat excreted from our feet – these knitted tubes protect our soles and cushion our steps without asking for much… except that we keep them together.
What’s more useless than a sock with no match? Well, perhaps a glove, but I wasn’t asked to write about gloves, so I return to the hyperbolic: WHAT is more useless? Well, nothing. I, for one, have cordoned off a small space in my top drawer for socks with no match; with my terribly American optimistic hope that the other might turn up some day… probably when I finally get around to cleaning under my bed. (Spoiler alert: it wasn't there.) To be perfectly honest, I don’t believe I’ve ever discovered the elusive Other Sock post-separation from its twin, and yet, I continue to hold out hope for a reunion.
It makes me sound like a fool, which indeed I am, but fools have their reasons, reasons that go beyond documented psychiatric diagnoses. And if I dig hard enough – interrogating my wayward psyche – I know and have known all along why I hold on to useless, lonely cylinders of fabric in my top drawer… because I understand them. I am one of them. Maybe.
I’m a cashmere/wool blend, calf-length, black, grey, and white argyle sock: not an everyday standard, but classic and smart enough. Sure, I’m soft and cozy, and true, people love to stare and comment on how unique, yet classy I am… but what they don’t see is that I go home to live in the tiny corner of a top drawer, with all the other oddities. I’m a sock without a match.
My parents are two ribbed, sienna-brown, wooly, knee-length socks; you know, reliable and sturdy with just enough elastic to give your legs breathing room without sliding down your calf. Sure, my argyle patterning was a bit of an issue with my father growing up, but I mean… I was born this fabulous, what could I do? This is actually all beside the point. The POINT is, all of my life I’ve known nothing but these two, sturdy brown socks as an example of how to be in the world: as a pair.
From the time I was cognizant that socks came in pairs, I’ve been on the search for my missing half. Well, not really half (I’m totally a whole sock), but you know, my match. OH THE CLOSE CALLS! I won’t bore you with stories of the parade of do-gooders, low-down rogues, and ne’er-do-wells I’ve attempted to pair up with in the past, but let’s just say… we didn’t make it very far; we were out of step. Not black enough. Not argyle-ee enough. Gray, not grey.
After such sustained failure at an endeavor, one usually gives up, unless you're mad or rich, and I’m not rich. Yet I persist, and yet I struggle… and let me tell you, it’s in that turmoil that I found out who I was. See, I thought I was a ribbed, sienna-brown, wooly, knee-length sock, and I went around the world as such, and paired myself with the like; it felt familiar. However over time, the burden of difference showed me that I’m not what I thought I was, I’m not who people want me to be, andI’ll be damned if stay with a mismatched sock for the sake of being a pair.
And so, that corner in my top drawer stays reserved for the socks with no match; just because they aren’t paired doesn't make them any less whole.