May 14, 2011


I hate doing laundry—not the washing or drying, but the folding, hanging up, and the occasional ironing. Especially, I hate matching socks.

For some reason, I resolved to really finish doing laundry this week. That means washing everything that needs washing, putting it all away, and not having anything left over that requires repair, ironing, or, in the case of socks, matching.

This has been a multi-day project. Perhaps everything could have been done in one 24-hour period, but my aversion to the whole laundry thing and my having some sort of life not Socksinvolved in doing laundry demanded that the project occasionally be interrupted for other matters such as eating, entertainment, or following the slow disintegration of the Anglican Communion.

But today has mostly been about socks. I determined that any unmatched socks or socks that were somehow defective were to be discarded. I construed as defective socks that were threadbare, had actual holes, were apparently embedded permanently with lint, or had tops that had lost elasticity. In the end, I discarded 48 socks, the equivalent of 24 pairs, though, of course, some socks were singletons.

It is those singletons that are most mysterious. Were some of their mates simply lost—left in washers or dryers, dropped on the floor, or forgotten under furniture? Perhaps they had been discarded for cause. Each unmatched sock represents a domestic mystery, usually a cold case with little remaining evidence.

I don’t like throwing socks away. It’s a little like saying goodbye to old friends. I’m sure that some of my discards today have been part of my life for decades, even if not intimate associates in recent years.

It was easier to dispose of a substantial number of white crew socks, including matched pairs, that were either quite worn or had virtually useless elastic. When buying replacements for such socks, I have usually not discarded older ones if they conceivably could be worn. Every few years, however, judicious culling is in order.

Somewhat to my surprise, when my matching and folding and discarding was through, I still had a full sock drawer, with its separate compartments for white and colored socks.

It has been a satisfying day.

Postscript. I spent a lot of time attempting to match socks. When will a sock vendor begin putting a unique serial number on each pair?


  1. My brother is too organized. He has little disks thru which he threads his socks when he removes them. I'm not that organized.

  2. My husband buys socks that are all the same - no worry about matching pairs.


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