As a kid my mother was always bitching about me losing socks. Okay, I’m a kid, there’s a dozen different ways for a kid to lose or otherwise destroy just about anything, and quite frankly, I wasn’t that big a fan of socks, or shoes for that matter, unless it was cold. But you know what? When I was five years old I chased a Cottonmouth into a metal minnow bucket and closed the door behind him with a stick. A few missing socks just wasn’t going to tip my mother’s attention scale that much after I drug home my first venomous serpent. Poor woman. Here she is just trying to raise three kids as best she can and one of them loses socks and brings homes venomous snakes.
Later in life, I had roommates and we would sit and openly philosophize as to why we could go to the laundry mat and come home with fewer socks than we began with. One day, under the influence of great bourbon and a weak epiphany, I demanded the old woman running the laundry mat allow me to look in the back room behind the dryers for my missing socks. Drunk and fearless, I walked into the area behind the dryers without thinking there might be a reason people didn’t go back there in the Summer. It was like breathing hot spider webs. I managed to stay in long enough to realize two Great Truths: One, my socks were not in there. Two, one of my roomies had locked the door behind me, and now two drunk people were screaming at me through a hot dryer, laughing their butts off. Oh, it’s funny now, but for a week I hacked up more lint balls than any two cats alive.
In the Army it was even worse because everyone alive has the same color socks, and everyone alive uses the same washing machine and dryers. If you lost a piece of clothing it was like dropping water in a pool. Good luck on getting that back. That stuff with your name on it was safe, but the rest of the camo? You couldn’t see it. Worse, regardless of what the recruiters might tell you, the Army gives you three pairs of socks for free, and then if you lose one, or if they just flat disappear while you’re drying them, you have to buy more. I was making four hundred bucks a month in the Army and a dollar for a pair of socks was real money. That was beer money. That was 1/400th of my pay for the entire month. I’m telling you a Private in the Army can tell you where every dollar he owns has gone. Hell, he can even give them names and not have to worry about using the same name twice.
When I got married I just assumed my wife was throwing out my old clothes of all sorts, not just socks. A lot of my favorite jeans, old tee shirts, and generally those articles of clothing I loved and cherished were all kidnapped by aliens once I became unsingle. Having a woman move into a house with a man is like watching a badger digging a hole in the ground. There is a nonstop and relentless tossing of dirt into a pile, and there is no stopping it. I just read that last sentence and I have to admit I’m a little uneasy with it, but it does fit.
So it comes to this. I am divorced, which is not the same as being single. No one is throwing my socks away. The Loki Mutt is not eating them. No one is beaming them up to the Starship Enterprise. But I still have missing socks.
I have a theory.
Tonight I found eight quarters, four dimes, seven nickels, and a spattering of pennies in the dryer. I do NOT remember having a pocket full of change. The dryer isn’t eating the socks, the dryer is buying them from us. When you find change in your dryer, think about it; did you really have that much change in your pockets? I suspect all these years of finding change and losing socks, the dryers are actually giving us a pretty good deal. For all we know they’re taking the worst of the lot, like one of those we’ll-buy-your-used-gold-for-cash. Okay, that was a truly bad example, nevermind, but you get the picture. How else can you explain that there always seems to be change you didn’t find in your pockets, and you’re missing a sock?