PUNGO — It started on a Sunday with a basket of unmatched socks, as all great tragedies do.
My wife set it in the living room and instructed the kids to pair them. We have three girls, two of them old enough for such work. The four year old helped me watch the New England Patriots win on TV.
The two on sock duty made a game of it. The 11 year old oversaw a contest, presumably of her invention, called Puppy. The nine year old is the puppy. The 11 year old gives the puppy an unmatched sock. The puppy sniffs the sock, gives it a look, and brings its mate back to the 11 year old.
The nine year old loves this game nearly as much as the 11 year old loves supervisory roles. Still, it’s hard to argue with results. They filled part of the basket with little, balled-up bundles. Perfectly paired socks.
As the Pats game went into the record books, the older girls found matches harder and harder to come by.
My wife directed the girls to sort the socks by color on the carpet. The girls found more matches upstairs. Yet dozens upon dozens could not be matched.
On Monday, in the living room, socks of many colors, sizes and patterns remained spread across our carpet. We stepped over them so as not to touch these noble socks with anything so base as the human foot.
“I think where it really began was with allowing the girls to wear mismatched socks,” my wife said after dinner.
Over time, mismatches became more daring, with loads of laundry furthering the divide between a sock and its partner.
“All of a sudden it wasn’t just mismatched colors,” my wife said.
Patterns clashed. Licensed Disney characters went off with generic animals. It was chaos.
“They got further and further away from their forever mates.” She paused a moment to reflect. “Some of them obviously weren’t forever mates. I think either we commit to throwing away mismatched socks – ”
“No,” the nine year old interjected.
“See?” my wife said, addressing the emotional cost of our deliberations. “Or we resign ourselves to never again wearing matching socks.”
The nine year old wanted to save the matchless socks. She appealed for consideration of their sorry plight. “On weekends, we only go to fancy dinner parties where you can’t wear mismatched socks,” she said.
Her logic left me baffled. What family is the child visiting on weekends?
Kids aren’t permitted at these hypothetical parties.
“We’re not allowed to go there because they serve champagne,” she said.
What does a nine year old know from champagne?
“It’s a big, fancy grownup drink that is served in funny, stemmy glasses that we always break and get grounded for life.”
This seemed to have little to do with either solving the sock problem or reality.
“Or we wear them to fancy people’s houses,” the nine year old continued.
What fancy people do we know?
“Pépé,” she said.
My father, a skilled singer who lives in New England, does own a tux. Not that his grandkids have seen him in it.
We were getting nowhere. So I called the 11 year old to the room. Hey, what do we do about all these socks?
“Goodbye,” she responded.
“Tell her about the champagne, Daddy,” the nine year old suggested.
But our eldest child was long gone.
The nine year old stuck to her guns. “I’m just saying we should not wear them to fancy dinner parties over the weekends.”
The four year old chimed in, if only to prove the young heart holds no pity.
“We should throw them away,” she said, “because they’re old.”
I repeated this to my wife.
Clearly, they’re angling to put us in a home.
“If we’re lucky,” my wife said.
The socks remained on the carpet.
My wife hopes matches will appear. I’m convinced we may need to wear them ourselves in the cold woods of Pungo after our daughters cast us out.
Please be neighborly if a couple clad in a suit and gown sewn from mismatched socks knocks. Don’t call the cops straight away. Just break out the champagne.
Doucette is the editor of The Independent News. He lives in Pungo. Reach him via (757) 748-5331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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