*I”m going to be on later today, when I get home and my computer. Considering this weekend, it’s possible I should NEVER vacation EVER again.
Sad news — besides France — RIP Matthew Benjamin Landry 1975-2015 — Matt was one of those fans who became a friend online and off line. I’m very glad I got to meet him in the flesh two years ago. He’s now gone beyond pain and beyond suffering, and for him it will be just a few moments before we meet again, but we will miss him.*
The Importance of Socks – Cedar Sanderson
And by socks, I mean the bits that are likely to get wet if you keep putting your mind down there in the gutter. Socks! Not sex! Although that’s important too, but it’s not what I was talking about.
I was thinking about this today as I dealt with a sock malfunction. I’d run out of clean socks… ok. Not out of socks. Out of my favorite socks, which meant I had to get into the second-string socks. And those socks, rather than holding my feet in a warm hug inside my boots, slipped down and left my heels freezing and clammy. It was a minor inconvenience – I had time in my day to go home and change my socks, but it got me thinking.
I’ve been in situations, a long time ago and far away, where warm dry socks were essential. Maybe not life or death, but certainly close. Hypothermia is not your friend, and I’ve been far enough into it often enough to know how fast it can happen. And that wet feet at the wrong time is a very bad thing. It’s not that I’m wedded to my socks. In the summer I run around happily in my bare feet. So maybe I overreact when my feet are cold and uncomfortable.
Or maybe not. These things are warnings for a reason. Like so much else in our lives, a thing that makes us a little uncomfortable and shift unconsciously from foot to foot… might be nothing. Or it could be a little precursor to a big problem. The trick is learning how to tell what is a real danger – being out in the woods a day’s hike from home, with no dry socks, below-55 deg F weather, rain… shivers. Brrrr…. And to learn what isn’t a real danger: half-off socks on campus ten minutes from home and a hot shower to warm all of you up.
Part of learning the difference is common sense. It’s clear that a tiny thing like, say, the statue of a guy in his underpants is not a threat. I mean, if I drove past it in the night I might do a double-take, or if I walked by it in the morning mist and it suddenly appeared it might make me jump. The first time. But it’s no harm. It’s not going to lurch into motion and grab me suddenly. It is, in short, socks that won’t stay up. Now, a real man in a real dark alley when I’m a young woman who’s been out clubbing and drunk too much? That’s a real threat. That is wet socks and no cover far from home and my own fault for not having packed an extra pair of socks and not put myself into that kind of danger with no backup.
Socks are a little thing. Learning how to tell what’s a big thing? That’s important. And it seems to be a skill that too many young people just aren’t learning. Perhaps because their parents never let them go camping in the wilderness, or at least not if it were going to rain. What kids need to learn is how to pack. They need to learn how to check the weather forecast. And maybe they need a parent who’s willing to give them socks for Christmas.
I give my kids socks for most Christmases. Usually, fuzzy fluffy slipper-type socks. The girls love those really fuzzy ones, the little man likes the kinds with superhero motifs on them. Of course, they get more than socks, but… But my dad, for several years running when I was a single parent, took it on himself to stuff my stocking at Christmas. I hung one for myself because the kids insisted, and I usually threw a couple of handfuls of candy in it while I was filling theirs. Dad would come in after I was through, and put socks in it for me. I loved those socks. Merino wool, warm, soft… every time I pulled them on it was like a hug from Dad. And it was one less thing I had to worry about in a worrisome time – I had warm feet.
When we’re under a lot of stress, those socks sliding down our feet can be the last straw. And it can be the little sort of thing that makes all the difference. The lifting of the last straw on the camel might be warm feet, or a full belly when your husband makes you eat an egg before you leave for that math exam, or the unexpected gift of a hand-drawn mother’s day card… without those pick-me-ups, the straw finally breaks the beast of burden to its knees, and getting up is harder than carrying on.
Most of us will go through a point where those socks, and warm feet, make the difference. I don’t know that Dad knew what he was really doing, with the socks in my stocking. I think he just wanted to give me something I couldn’t afford to indulge in myself at the time. But I’d like him to know they meant a lot. You know you’re not a kid anymore when you look forward to socks at Christmas… Who in your life is cold, and what’s a little thing you can do to warm them up? You never know what will help, and it’s not always the big things that you feel you can’t possibly do.
I know I get frustrated about the big things. But there are things in life that you just can’t fix. Oh, sure, when the front door isn’t latching properly and you can shim it up. Or when the child has fallen and scraped their knee and you can hug them, clean their wound, and send them back to playing. When there are no clean socks and you can do the laundry.
But the big things… when a loved one is ill. Or you’re in a situation where all you can do is wait for a resolution. Those, you can’t just fix. You can only ameliorate the pain of the time by doing the little things. Like making sure there are clean, warm socks. Or a casserole. Or walking the dog, or… the little things that can lift that last straw from the camel’s back.
I need to go do some laundry. Or I could steal a pair of my husband’s socks. I know he’d happily give me the last pair in his drawer – because he loves me, and that’s what you do when you love someone, you make sure the little things are right. But I won’t take his last socks. For one thing, I still do have socks. They are just ah, colorful and mostly thigh-high socks. Socks are a sign of the vast differences between men and women. I have my favorite wool socks, trouser socks, performing socks, footy socks… but him? See, like many men, my husband likes to have all his socks one color, one style, and then he never has to worry about that one sock that does go missing in the laundry.
I have a theory about those missing socks. We need to develop some kind of meta-tracker capable of piercing the quantum membrane, because you know those socks have found the parallel universe gate. All we have to do is track them through, and voila! We’ll have a way of getting there, too! So hold a warm, dryer-toasted sock in your hand, close your eyes, and walk forward, holding it out…
I kid! I kid! Socks are great, and important, and all, but they are hardly the answer to the mysteries of the universes!