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Psst: I know where your missing socks are
One of life's great mysteries, solved
No one — no one! — enjoys sorting socks.
No one — no one! — enjoys sorting socks. ThinkStock/Lifesize
L

ife is full of baffling questions. Why are we here? Why can't time fly when we're not having fun? Where did my waist go? And of course there is the eternal question of the missing socks. Where do they go?

Well, somebody ring a bell, because I have the answer: Your missing socks are all at my house.

There was a time when socks in my house were found in a sock drawer, in a hamper, or on a pair of feet. Then I had children. There are now socks in every corner of my house. They are under couches, mixed in with Legos, and hanging off the fireplace grate. They are strewn on the stairs, as if someone was running from a burning building and had to strip off their socks to speed their escape.

When I've collected and washed them all, they amount to a staggering pile of needing-to-be-matched socks. We are a family of 10 feet. I, for one, go through no more than one pair a day, mainly on principle. My husband ranges between one and two. But the others — they don't exercise much self-control. It seems they need different socks for every activity, and if they make a sock-footed trip outside, they need a fresh pair upon their return. My kids take many sock-footed trips outside each day. 

It is not difficult to personify the sock pile at my house. It actually has a pulse. It is a breathing, growing entity that seems to be capable of doing anything but matching its own kind. It's almost like there's some sort of after-hours hanky-panky in the sock pile. Each week, the Nike and Under Armor socks seem to be mating and spawning a new race of socks that I have never seen before. There are suddenly argyle socks, Adidas socks, even pink socks in my pile. It's like Studio 54 in there.

Which brings me to my big discovery: It's your missing socks that I find all over my house. See, every child that comes to my house takes off his shoes and runs out to the trampoline in sock feet. The mud immediately renders those socks squishy, and they are discarded like confetti all over my back yard. It's actually quite whimsical the way they dangle from the shrubs. The child leaves with just his shoes, deciding he would rather ride bareback than touch those muddy socks again. In this way, my sock inventory has risen by two every day for eight years.

Thanks to you, I don't buy socks anymore. The sock supply happily replenishes itself. But the sorting of the socks... oh my, that can be soul crushing.

Like Cinderella, I dream of a way out. I imagine a day when I fill one (maybe several) large garbage bags with every single sock in my house. Then I'd go to the mythical Sock Emporium and buy multiple pairs of identical socks for each member of my family. There would be no matching, just five baskets of a single type of sock each. Freedom.

But like Cinderella, I do not act. I'm waiting for someone to rescue me.

In the meantime, if you want your socks back, you can come get them. But be warned — they could be anywhere. Please, please come and get them.

Annabel Monaghan is the author of two novels for young adults: A Girl Named Digit (2012), and Double Digit (2014). She is also the co-author of Click! The Girls Guide to Knowing What You Want and Making it Happen (2007). She lives in Rye, N.Y., with her husband and three sons.

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