Slightly Bemused writes:
So I wore a hole in my sock today. Well, technically 3 holes. Second time this week, although the one yesterday was a single hole. Both in the heel, first right, then left. And a big toe started peeping out the end. I am not sure what this means.
These socks owe me nothing – they are 15 years old if they are a day, and have been washed in a variety of ways from washing machines, to hotel sinks to washboards at the side of a river somewhere. One of my t-shirts of similar vintage also decided to give up this past week. I wear my clothes to destruction.
Superstition tells us that if you wear a hole in your sock, you will receive a letter. If two holes wore in your sock within the same week it is a sign that you will soon receive a gift. As far as I can tell, superstition is silent on the matter of multiple-sock-multiple-hole scenarios, but I live in hope. The one thing that is certain is that ultimately a new pair of socks is coming my way.
When I was young, a hole in my sock meant that more often than not my mother would be out with the darning needle. These days, the material my socks are made of would not take kindly to such treatment, and so my socks are destined for a different fate. Just what, as yet, I cannot say, but that spirit of not just chucking something out because it is no longer pristine remains with me.
After washing, they make great dusters; if trimmed right, they can make good wrist warmers (not that that is needed here); or if transferred to an imaginative child, they could be anything their minds can craft them into. My daughter made hand puppets, as I am sure generations of children have done.
But there are generations of children who have never made a sock puppet. And in many of the places I worked, I am sure there are many who never will. And not because they are not imaginative, or resourceful, or careful not to waste items that have passed their original use. The plethora of homemade toys I see every day is testament to that.
No, they likely will not make sock puppets for a more basic reason: they mostly do not have socks in daily use. The footwear of choice there is the flip flop, or sandal, or thong (for our antipodean friends). It is cheap, cheerful, and more importantly, cool. I have occasionally had snickers come my way at wearing socks in such a hot climate.
Socks are certainly available, and are worn, but only with the good shoes, like on Sundays and special occasions. This will wear them out slower, while the wearing of sandals allows one to be much cooler.
Except of course for those who were forced to flee their homes. They might not even have the flip flops. I have occasionally asked myself, as this morning, that if I were forced to leave at no notice, what would I try to take with me? Would socks be high on my list of priorities? or would I go for the photo albums of my daughter? Or the external disc drives with my electronic data? What if I had not time, and all I was left with were my socks?
Today in far too many places, millions of people have been forced from their homes with little or no warning. I heard stories of women walking for over 8 days, carrying their children and little else, to get to safety. They came without socks, and occasionally without flip flops, or they wore out. Yet on they came, seeking a place to allow their children to be children.
So this morning, as I contemplate the holes in the heels of my socks I do wish for a gift, but not for me. I wish for the gift of peace so children can explore their own imaginations in peace, and mothers do not have to walk for days just to keep their families alive. And maybe even a sock puppet or two may make a dull day more amusing.
Slightly Bemused‘s column appears here every Wednesday.