Archived Story

The mystery of the missing left socks

Published 9:19am Monday, January 9, 2012

Column: Something About Nothing

You put your left sock in, you put right sock in, you put both socks in and you shake them all about. You do the washy-pokey and you turn it all about. Why don’t two socks come out?

Recently one of my Facebook friends posted this message: I just have to state a fact! Of all the years I have been doing laundry, I have never lost a sock to the clothes dryer … Hmm, so the myth of dryers eating socks has been busted!

First, I want to state that I don’t know if it is my washer or my dryer that eats my socks, but I suspect it is my washer. So it makes sense to me that my friend has never lost a sock to her dryer. Since she always has two socks that come out of the dryer I must assume that her washer doesn’t eat her socks either.

I haven’t had the courage to ask my friend what she attributes to her long success of sock keeping. I think it is because I am afraid of the answer, which might mean she is super organized. If that is the case I might feel stressed to try to be sock organized, too.

I have three mini drawers of matching socks and a garbage bag full of socks waiting to be reunited with their significant other. I usually buy more than one pair of the same kind of sock. I am prepared. I know I am going to lose one, and if I have more of the same kind of sock, I always have a match until I have lost so many there is no more match.

Keeping socks together is a detail that escapes me. I am always sure I put both matching socks in the washer until I find one days later stuck in a couch. I have found socks stuck between the drum in my former wash machine. Washers sometimes really do eat socks, so did my dog Sambo. My daughter’s cats steal her socks. They seem to think they belong in their food dish. At least she knows where to look for them if she doesn’t have two of the same sock going into the washing machine.

Long ago my husband has given up trusting me with washing his socks and so he does his own. He would never admit if the wash machine ate his socks. If that happened to him who would he then trust to wash his socks?

I was very excited in the past year to learn that they are now selling unmatched socks to wear. These socks come in all different cool colors and designs. The idea is that your socks no longer have to match. I love that new trend. I wanted to fill my sock wardrobe with these cool socks, but I resisted. I have to wait until I run out of the matching socks to the many alike socks that I bought.

By that time unmatching socks will probably be back out of style. Whoever came up with the new fashion trend should get a Nobel Peace Prize. There would be a lot of peace in a home that switched to the unmatched sock trend.

My inquiring mind wanted to know who invented socks. Apparently no one knows. The first socks were made using animal skins and tying them around the feet. According to wanttoknow .com, in the 5th century AD only holy people wore socks. Four hundred years later they became a symbol of wealth. Mass production started in 1589 with the invention of the knitting machine. The word socks come from the Latin word soccus. Different websites have different histories of the sock.

I didn’t feel so bad about losing my socks after reading an article on It told me the average family of four will lose sixty socks a year. I had a family of five and never, never, ever did I lose 60 socks a year. That validated me as a sock keeper.

I will no longer obsess over lost socks. I will no longer chide myself for not paying enough attention to what is happening to my socks. I will admire my friends that can bond and keep their socks. That is a feat (feet) in itself. I will settle in, embrace the new mismatched socks era and put to rest those socks I can no longer find.

On the upside my socks never wear out. I do not hold on to them long past their life like other people I may know. My daughter-in-law will never have to sneak a sock out of my sight and into the wastebasket because of the holes that expose my big toes. I am not holy, I am at peace.


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at