Shoes. From soft, tiny baby shoes to gigantic clodhoppers, they demarcate the transition from infancy to teenagerhood. And with them (one might possibly be tempted to say, ’hand in glove’) go socks. Indeed, keeping track of shoes and socks might be termed a Metaphor for the Marvelous Journey of Motherhood
Time was, I could put my hand in my clothes pocket any time, anywhere, and pull out a tiny, soft, colorful baby sock. Happy indeed was a day when I would later find its mate. Matching a pair of socks became a Major Life Event and called for great rejoicing, representing as it did a successful foray into that day’s battle with entropy. I also knew, however, that the day would all too quickly dawn when my hand would search my pocket in vain, and come up empty. Fully aware of the poignancy of the moment, I’d give the sock an appreciative sniff (“Aah, baby powder!”) and return it to my pocket.
But socks , inevitably, outgrow pockets; and as they do, like cowboys and Greta Garbo, they want to be alone. Solitary mismatched socks soon filled a red plastic bucket kept (in what proved to be a futile attempt to stop them metastasizing the length and breadth of the house) behind the laundry room door. This was raided every Sunday morning in a desperate quest for a matching pair: “Surely somewhere among these tens of thousands of odd socks there must lurk two that remotely resemble a pair? “
But no. Incredibly enough, and in complete defiance of the laws of probability, never mind of logic, the bucket yielded an apparently infinite number of individual socks that were united in one thing and one thing only: a fervent desire for their rugged individualism to remain . . . well, rugged, I suppose, and individualistic.
Shoes, on the other hand, are a good deal more tractable. Pin a pair together with a clothespin, buckle a pair together or tie their laces, and there is at least an outside chance of them staying together.
Just please don’t tell shoes that I called them more manageable than socks. I shudder to think of the shape their retribution might take.