On many weekends over the past 17 years, I’ve turned on a mindless tv show and played the Match Game with a never-ending pile of socks. Thanks to socks and other laundry, I’ve made it through every season of “Grace and Frankie,” “Girls,” gone back and watched all seasons of “Sex and the City,” and I’ve memorized most of the episodes of “Fixer Upper.” If I’d spent this amount of time listening to language books on tape, I could be fluent in French and Farsi by now. What I’m saying is I have spent a third of my life sorting socks.
Since I failed pretty miserably at the “40 Bags in 40 Days” minimalism challenge that I took on for Lent, I’ve decided to extend the project for as long as it takes me to get to 40 bags. I may be slow, but I’m not a quitter, damn it. I’m grateful to my friend Bethany who suggested that this “40 Bags in 40 Days” challenge is more of a guideline and not a strict set of rules, so that has allowed me to be less hard on myself for bombing what was an otherwise simple idea of getting rid of one bag of stuff for 40 straight days.
For those of you following along, here’s my update. If you’re really following along, you’ll realize that this isn’t much of an update at all, so stop laughing (that’s for you, Mom). Instead, please notice #8 because that’s a big one.
About the socks. For 14+ years, the weekend sock project was about sorting and pairing up socks for five people. When my stepchildren left for college I assumed that the sock project would be much less daunting, but it never seems to get to a manageable place. On the weekends that I choose to tackle the sock project, at some point during the exercise, I scream dramatically, “SOCKS!” When it gets to that point, I shove the socks back in the Texas bag and move on to more important things like eating chips and salsa and flipping through “Real Simple” magazine.
This, for example, is the pile of socks that don’t have matches. This is the pile of sad little singletons that were left over today after I matched TWENTY FOUR matching sets of socks. I purposefully highlight the absolutely adorable “I’m not bossy! I’m the Boss!” sock because we just bought that one for my teenager less than a month ago and its match is already missing. The sock is actually too bossy to hang out with her match. Unbelievable.
During the week, these socks live in the Texas tote bag until the next round of laundry comes around just in case their match magically appears. Now, your first question might be, “Why do you have so many socks?” Beyond the fact that we have socks for different occasions – the athletic sock, the sock that works with short booties, the sock for tall boots, the sock for lounging – I really have no idea why any family of three would need this many socks. There’s a certain amount of whimsy that lives in this pile, as the Arndts are a whimsical people. There’s a state of Texas sock (an absolute must), a lonely hula girl sock, a lone wolf cowboy hat sock, and one of three squirrel Christmas socks (I can’t bear to part with the third one because I’m sure the missing 4th one will show up eventually). There are multiple athletic socks with no match, because I can’t seem to settle on one brand or one color. There are a few socks with the sticky bottoms for my barre classes, and I can’t seem to get rid of the unmatched ones maybe one day I’ll go to barre and only use one of my legs? It could happen, right?
Mixed in with the socks you’ll find the occasional wayward cloth napkin, and the weird heat-canceling glove you’re supposed to wear when you curl your hair. Only I never have time to curl my hair because I spend my free time sorting *&#ing socks.
I know what you’re thinking here. 1) Who gives a rat’s behind about the status of the Arndt’s sock collection? Fair enough. I often write about things that really don’t matter. 2) If this is such a constant pattern, why don’t you empower yourself by just getting rid of the extras?
Today is the day!
After thoughtful consideration, I saved something like 87 single socks, but these guys didn’t make the cut. I presented them to their 14 year-old owner and received the nod of approval to toss them in the trash. I skipped over to the garbage can, delighted with this little bit of progress, and decided to count these as my 8th “bag.” Fare the well, sad little single french fry sock. Goodbye, multi-colored athletic sock, and ciao to the striped sock that ER probably wore in 2nd grade. Goodbye to the weird sweaty striped sock that today we realized belongs to some other kid. This is a good start, right?
Just as I was taking my glory lap to the trash can, my ever-thrifty, never wasteful and slightly hoardy husband said, “Wait! The guy across the street is growing peaches and the birds are eating them, so maybe he could use those for covers!”
Instead of punching my husband in the nose and tossing these guys forever and never thinking of them again, I placed them on the dining room table, informing my husband that he is going to be the one to carry these guys to our neighbor’s house and put them on his trees. So now, every time I look across the street, these stupid socks will be blowing in the wind, distracting the blue jays, and reminding me of how much time I’ve wasted trying to find their matches.
You can’t say I didn’t try….