Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The only thing that keeps me going

August 24, 2006

We have a million socks in this house but none of them like each other. Since when did socks learn how to increase, multiply and separate? They are everywhere, except together and never where you can find them. I hate them. The person who invents and markets disposable socks and manufacturers them cheap will solve all the world’s problems. Somewhere in Afghanistan is a woman with sock issues. Trust me it’s a global problem and Al Gore needs to get working on it.

We stopped sorting socks years ago. We decided we’d put them in a basket, exerting some modicum of control over them....and they never get paired. They get tossed around the house, while they seek out their mates in the dog’s mouth or attached to some pair of pants that was recently folded. Brown socks like to hang out with white ones and the pantyhose loves to twist around them both. The socks invade my inner peace with their “just try to find my partner” attitude. Sometimes, I gather the courage to throw them all away, but then there might be the chance that I saw the match to that green Boy Scout sock somewhere… these are real goals, people and this is war.

I aspire to come up with the perfect system for laundering socks. Color coding socks, putting them in mesh bags and other great systems are only as the good as the person doing laundry. The kids define laundry as anything in their room that needs to be picked up and out of sight. Socks, rocks, balls, wrappers, clothes that haven’t been worn since 1997 all make it to the laundry pile, and the wayward socks are with them all.

We have multiple college degrees in this house, but it’s the mystery that never gets solved. My husband gave up trying to figure it out so he buys his own bags of fresh socks and stopped looking for the old ones. The old ones are left to me. They torment me. If socks were children; C.P.S would have collected me years ago.

My washing machine hates the socks as much as I do. It likes to hide them in places I haven’t found or somewhere between the rubber boot seal and the door. Once they are caught there, they never rinse completely, they smell worse than before and they take on a more menacing appearance when they are soaked and alone. It’s the little girl socks mixed with the big old teenager boy socks that wreak havoc on a whole system of peace and harmony in my home. The laundry piles up, laughs at me and I swear I’ve seen movement, Nah.

Occasionally some eccentrics in the clothing world, something we haven’t seen in years make it to the laundry pile after a long absence. It reappears like a prodigal child, usually out of season and many sizes smaller than its original owner. I have friends with large families and we talk about the laundry behind its back. We are especially catty when discussing clothes that end up in the laundry pile with their hangers still attached to them. The kids deny knowing how those clothes got there or why they need to be washed again. No one knows. I pulled a full parka and a basketball out of the laundry basket yesterday and wondered if I missed a ski trip with the basketball team this summer. Amazing as the piles are…there is an unspoken rule in this house that if a particular article of clothing has had contact with the ground; it is somehow contaminated and must be laundered immediately. Once it has escaped its folded capacity, and unless it is attached to the body of the person to whom it belongs, it’s officially dirty and therefore must retreat to the pile where it meets all its other friends who have no place to go. The concept that closets and dressers welcome these clothes completely escapes my family and as the laundry piles grow, the only solution I see for my family is to move to a Laundromat.

The towels are a whole other matter which in polite company I refuse to discuss, because not only do they hate their appointed towel racks, they must hang around the dark corners of our house while they are wet. They only like being wet one time before they officially make it to the laundry pile. For some reason, once they make contact with a dried fully bathed body, they rush to the laundry pile to mix with the smelly socks and underwear thereby staking claim to their official status as “dirty” and there they lie in wait for me. If I were rich, I’d have a big incinerator…well you get the point. As I write this, at my feet are a fresh bag of JD’s socks from Costco waiting for their big release.
My only friends in the laundry pile are the pants. When I wash them, they pay up. You have no idea how much money I made from the pants last year. It’s the only thing that keeps me going.

Tammy Maher is a resident of El Dorado Hills and bi-weekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat. You can reach her by email at


Kat said...

Hahahaha!! Great article Aunt Tammy, that's exactly like our house!!

Tom McGowan said...

Tammy, Tammy, Tammy,

Don't you know that this is the only time that the clothes get to have fun and socialize?

The pants get to dance with the socks. The shirts get to talk with the underwear.

The reason we don't see this happening is because when we open the lid all the clothes stop what they are doing and stand against the tub.

But the socks, now they are the ones doing the escape planning. While in the washer, this is when they are developing their scheme.

One says, "Alright, when she opens the lid I'm making a run for it!" While others say, "NO! Wait for the dryer. That way we can stick to the side and make a run for it then!"

Well... as you alluded too, you know the rest of the story!