I’m a fan of shoes; it’s a fairly well-established fact that I more or less view life through a high-heeled prism and any conversation you’re apt to have with me might either end, begin, or somewhere in-between contain the words “heel,” “sole,” “pointed,” “adorable,” “stocking,” or “boot.”
Or, perhaps, all six.
Given this information, it will come as no surprise to you that I also spend otherwise productive amounts of time ruminating on the subject of socks. They are, after all, devices which encase the feet — that alone gives them a leg-up on any other type of attire. The color, weight, thickness or thinness, appropriateness and compatibility with the various kinds of footwear … it’s all absorbing to me. As I strolled along the grocery aisle yesterday afternoon with my daughter, I engaged her in discourse on the socks I was then wearing — black, thick, servicable numbers that I generally wear with boots. Thick, as I say. Yesterday, I had crammed them into clogs that I usually wore with thin, stocking-like affairs with absolutely delightful results. Normally this clog made my feet tired after only a few hours of wear, but with the addition of thick socks, they were magically transformed into the comfortable shoes they should have been all along. I was delighted with my discovery.
“Socks,” said Claire. “Gotta love’em.”
OK so, while no one’s going to be tremendously bowled over by this vast philosophical insight, it did get me to ruminating on socks in general and the various problems and delights I have had with them over the years.
First and foremost — One Size Fits All.
Oh it so DOES NOT.
For most of my life I’ve worn a size 9 shoe — not tremendously big, but you know, a little bigger than average. I’m 5-foot 9, it’s proportional, right? In the last few years it has been brought to my attention by the expert fitters at a local running store that I actually wear a 9½ — so be it. But come on, sock industry, One Size Fits All? How could I possibly wear the same sock that Miss 5-Foot Nothing slips on her size 6 feet?
So it was with a great thrill, many years ago, that I discovered in the now-defunct McAlpin’s Department Store the existence of Tall Girl Socks. Oh yes. Socks which promised a heel that covered my heel and did not end up somewhere in the vicinity of my arch. An array of colors. Substantial, durable construction to stand up to even the most problematic of footwear. They were located on the second floor next to the escalator. I was a frequent shopper.
Yes, of course they were discontinued. Yes, of course McAlpins went out of business. Yes, now I buy socks that have no reasonable acquaintance with the location of my heels, or I get men’s socks, which are always, always, ALWAYS too big.
Problem #2 — Children
Yes, this heading could apply to so many things, but today we’re talking socks. The worst thing ever in the history of garment manufacture is baby socks. Just imagine: you’re the mother of a darling newborn, whose very existence is completely dependent upon you, the mother. You grew the thing in your womb; now you’ve got to feed and clothe it now that it’s emerged into the wild. It has tiny darling sweet little feet which, even in high August, are bitterly, bitterly cold. So as a conscientious mama, you sock those baby feet. Pow, the baby kicks them off. And why? Because people who manufacture baby socks apparently have never seen an actual baby and mistakenly believe that their feet are an inch and a half long. The heel of the sock hits Baby Foot around the end of the toes. If you’re a month-old infant, you have four jobs: eat, sleep, poop, and kick off socks. Bonus points if you can do all these at the same time, while crying.
Probably somewhere in the universe — more likely, on the Internet — are socks that would fulfill my every sock need. Perhaps I have even perused such a website (like a couple years ago when I got friends’ new baby faux lace-up sneaker socks, not unlike the Nike numbers pictured above). But as a consistent thing, life is punctuated with sock peril. They don’t fit, they flee from pairing. White socks get dingy, all socks get holey.
I shall continue my quest for the Perfect Sock — and since socks and shoes go together like peas and carrots, I foresee that this is a Destiny that I can cheerfully fulfill.