Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What is it with Men and Socks?

By Jeannie Watt

What is it with men and socks? Or at least the men in my life and socks?

When I was single, I had very few problems with socks, except for one or two that were eaten by the washing machine, but that’s just life. When I married, however, my relationship with socks—and not my own socks, mind you—started to change.  Nothing earth shattering, but certain phenomena began repeating.

One of those is the Invisi-sock Phenomenon. Apparently the Y chromosome renders certain objects, including socks, temporarily invisible.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to stop doing important things, like reading blogs before getting ready for work, to find the missing pair of running/biking/hunting/white/brown/lucky socks that are sitting front and center in the sock drawer when I open it. When I hand them to my husband, the following exchange then ensues:

“Where did you find them!?”
“In the sock drawer.”
“I looked there!”
“I know you did. So, until tomorrow…”

Not to be smug, but in our several decades of married life, I have never once asked my husband to help me find my socks. My car keys, yes; my sun glasses, yes; but socks—never. (To be fair, however, I must mention that my husband rarely loses anything except his socks--and they aren't really lost. They're just invisible.)

After my son was born, I noticed another sock phenomenon that continues to this day. The Sock Shed, as in the boy sheds socks wherever he goes. If I want to find him, I follow the trail of socks.  Even when he tries not to shed socks, he does.  For instance, if I call a hotel because I think I’ve left something in the room, the first question I get after security checks the lost and found is, “Was it a sock?”.

So after many years of guy/sock dealings,  I’ve developed a Y-chromosome-sock theory. Nature, through specialized evolution, has made it impossible for men to manage their socks and therefore they eventually realize that, unless they want to spend their days sockless and blistered, they need a mate. Then they are able to pass that Y-chromosome on to new generations.

What do you think? Does the Y-chromosome render objects invisible and make it impossible to keep socks under control?

Hey--you know what? I just realized this is my second hosiery post in a row. What is it with me and socks?


Mary Preston said...

It's not just men, but boys too. They don't even bother to look for things most times. My daughter would not dream of yelling out for help to find something.

Laura Russell said...

I may have observed another Y-chromosome related sock malady- the disappearing sock.

My teen-age sons raid my sock drawer since of course they cannot see own socks. My latest gambit- buying pink socks has failed miserably. In first week after purchase, two pairs have vanished.

Do you suppose I can't see them?

Jeannie Watt said...

Ecxellent point, Marybelle. My daughter never asks me to find things for her. And come to think of it, usually I don't ask my husband for help finding things--unless it's the car keys.

Jeannie Watt said...

Laura--Pink socks! An excellent strategy. I'm stunned that it didn't work and a bit amused. And yes, I forgot about the disappearing sock!

One family I know came up with a solution to the disappearing sock--while the kids were in junior high and high school, they bought only one kind of sock for everyone (even Mom, because it was her idea)--black athletic socks. It was a sock free-for-all, but they never got mismatched and everyone could usually find a pair--even the guys.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh - this is too funny, but now I understand why as kids at Christmas(and the parent buys the presents and you pretend they're from you) my Mom always bought socks to give to my Dad!

Hosiery and socks - what's next? Leg warmers? Just kidding.

Thanks for the amusing post.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jeannie,
Thanks for the funny post. My husband can find his socks. His problem is he still wears them with holes, when the elastic is gone, if they turn a different color. He is very picky about the socks he buys, but then he never wants to part with them. If you make your next post about Mens underwear, I will have some stories to tell!

Pamela Hearon said...

My husband has only one type of sock--black, gold toe. No missing socks, no pairing. They all go into his drawer and he simply pulls out two when he needs them. But your Y-chromosome theory holds true with him for everything else. Everything he can't "find" is usually right in the front of wherever he was searching--he just doesn't see it:-)

Kristina Mathews said...

My two oldest males asked the sock question just this morning. I used to keep my kids' socks in one big drawer in this bench by the back door. Until I discovered them throwing thier dirty socks in with the clean.

I have a giant ziplock bag for the sports socks. Red for my "Angel" and yellow for my "A" Yesterday we were running late for my younger son's baseball game. So I grabbed his yellow socks and tosssed them in the car, thinking he could put them on on the way. Nope. His first at bat, I see him up there, in his short white socks. The ones he frequently leaves by the front door when he comes in from the sandbox. I think I'll have to break him of that once I sell my fisrt book. Wouldn't want to scare off the UPS man.

Jeannie Watt said...

Marcie--Leg warmers...not a bad idea. Since I was around during the leg warmer era and my legs were properly warmed, I could probably tell some tales...

Tammy--That does it. I will have to do a men's undie post, because I have a feeling we could get some great stories on that topic! Too funny about your husband not wanting to part from old sock friends. Maybe that was how sock toys were originally invented--for boys who couldn't part with their socks.

Kristina--Ah yes, the days of mingling the clean with the not so clean. Shaking out the sock to see if dust comes out of it. (Sniffing is too dangerous.) Thankfully, they do outgrow that stage. Too funny about scaring the UPS man...but if he is a man, he probably understands on a very primal level.

Jeannie Watt said...

Pamela--Very clever to have one kind of sock. That solves problems. And I have also noticed the invisibility issue on other objects--particularly in kitchen cupboards and closets.

Ellen Hartman said...

My son has taken up a sport (crew) in which you don't wear shoes...just socks. In the water. Walking to and from the boat house.

Do you think he has a few designated pair of socks for crew or do you think he chooses whatever white fluffy pair looks most comfy that day?

I'll wait while you think.

The answer is All of our socks have become designated crew socks. Gross.

I will say that my other son has never once worn a pair of socks that aren't his own. He does have the shedding problem to the point that I wonder how many pair of socks he wears at once. The "trail" is much longer than the 2 socks you'd expect.

My friend, Leslie, wrote a book that includes a cat house staffed by men for women. In one scene a woman comes in with a large bag full of unmatched socks and hires one of the "workers" to match them. Her entire fantasy was to watch a good-looking guy match and fold socks.

I told her when the book gets turned into a movie, I'm going to lobby HARD to be cast as the sock woman. Jeannie, perhaps in the movie the sock woman could actually be sock twins--you and me!

Mary Brady said...

Socks, socks socks, Jeannie, I think you should make it a trilogy--at least a trilogy. My husband used to to throw his down the laundry chute inside out because it was "impossible" for him to remember to turn them--related to the invisible sock thing. I'd wash them, turn them and mate them.

One day the light bulb went on (I cut the you must do your husband's socks--or somehow the universe will falter--cord my dear mother had connected to me) and I never turned or mated another pair of man socks again. Funny thing though!! Now that my husband does his own socks, they hardly ever come down the chute inside out or balled up in a knot.

Great post, Jeannie! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

OMG Ellen! You have me laughing with the "I'll wait while you think".


Snookie said...

After several years of marriage, we have a sock basket. All socks get thrown in there when they're washed. Somehow, my husband's socks are always fine. He can find pairs when he needs them (of course he has all the exact same kind)! However, when he washes (yes hubby does the laundry) my socks, they always go missing. It takes me forever to find a matching pair. Even if the socks I find are white, they have to be matching. Sometimes the ribbing is a different style,some are shorter than others and sometimes the stains are different. Mine have to match even to the stains. Hubby doesn't care, he just matches the color and doesn't look any further. Hence, the sock basket was developed where everything gets thrown into after it's washed. I got tired of pulling out a folded pair of socks that didn't match! Still haven't figured out why my socks disappear though and his doesn't. They all go into the laundry hamper when they're dirty. My son leaves his socks everywhere, so I can totally understand how things go missing with his!

Beth Andrews said...

Jeannie, my daughters don't even bother to match their socks (haven't since they were in grade school) It bugs my mom but I just shrug it off.

Not sure if the non-matching socks is because they can't find the mate or if they're just too lazy to search through their sock drawer (I'm guessing it's the latter)


Rula Sinara said...

Hilarious post and comments! There's definitely a y chromosome thing going on. I'm the only XX in my house and all four of the XY's have sock issues lol. My husband can't find them, my eldest won't wear anyone else's plus he's into fancy sports socks (the kind with extra padding). I tell him he has to spend his own money on those. My middle kid loses them, puts them in the laundry inside out and balled up...wears them inside out too. My youngest sheds them all over the house...where they end up shredded by canine jaws.

Oh, and I'm convinced the y chromosome is linked to toe acid release, therefore all the holes in the ends.

There really is something to the way the male brain is wired (big picture) vs the female brain (details/multitasking) that I think explains the fact that guys can't find things that are right under their noses. I laughed at your post because my husband can look in drawer ten times and still not find what he's looking for...right under his nose!

Jeannie Watt said...

I'm loving the comments and getting some good sock management tips, too. Mary--yours is my favorite, as in, cut the apron strings. I have that balled up, inside out sock issue myself. I quit mating them and have a basket now that never gets emptied.

Ellen--I will help you lobby! I want to be a sock twin and I love the very idea of a woman paying to watch a hunk mate socks. As to the community crew socks--good luck with that. :-/ I think that would make me a little crazy.

Snookie--that is strange that your socks disappear and his do not...I'm also a bit fanatical on the sock matching. Ribbing much be the same height, etc. which is why I'm so impressed with Beth's daughters.

Beth--Your girls sound like they've already developed the ability not to sweat the small stuff. I'm still working on that, lol. Good for them.

Rula--Sock issues x3...teaches one patience, eh? And there is something going on with the guy brain. What confuses me is that they are the hunters and we are the gatherers--you'd think they'd be the one who pinpoints the object, not the female. But...maybe their brains are keyed in to movement and ours are keyed into finding stuff that's holding still--like a berry. Hey...I think that's a pretty good hypothesis. Because socks without feet in them are generally holding still. As is the mustard in the refrigerator.

Rogenna Brewer said...

This is hilarious, Jeannie, and so true.

In my husband's case he's always accusing the boys of wearing "his" socks --which is true. Because once they were all men, they all had look-a-like socks.

This never bothered me until one of my boys decided it was okay to wear mom's pink ribbon socks when he couldn't find any man socks.

He's not the least bit feminine, just that lazy when it comes to looking for his own socks. Or for that matter washing them.

Suddenly, all my socks went from being white to dingy with holes.

My socks don't get dirty when I wear them. I wear them with shoes. When I take my shoes off I take my socks off.

How hard is that?

Anonymous said...

LOL, Jeannie, you might be starting a sock movement here. Or a sock protest? I'm the sock loser in my family, though. I can't tell you how happy I was when I changed the sheets the other day and found my missing sock in one corner of the fitted sheet. :-) My complaint is with jammies. My DH will wear the jammie bottoms until the seat has worn right out of them and he won't let me throw them away! He says he's waiting for an unwanted salesman to stop by so he can entertain him in his seatless SpongeBob Squarepants jammies. Sigh. Hilarious post! :-)

Cathryn Parry said...

I'm laughing so hard at all the comments today. Thanks, everyone!

My husband came home last week wearing two different socks. He had gone through security at the airport (shoes off), etc, and hadn't noticed. Fun times. :)

Karina Bliss said...

I'm late to this party but Jeannie I loved this post. The great sock mystery. And you're right, it's a guy thing. That's why I buy my guys multiples of the same pairs so they can be interchangable.

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