Missing socks beg the question


The world has long pondered the eternal verities. Among these, of course, is the certainty of death and taxes, and the probability of ants one day taking over the world.

But there is another that continues to puzzle and amaze me. It has to do with socks and what happens to one – just one – when they are in the dryer.

Think about it. Socks are manufactured in pairs. Two socks are packaged together on the factory floor. And they are still packaged together when they reach the store.

Everybody buys socks by the pair, even a one-legged man. While waiting in the checkout line, you could study them, realizing that from the moment they were knitted on some giant sock-making machine, there were two of them. You could actually picture the person at the end of that machine, grabbing first one sock and then a second to make a pair.

When you put them on in the morning, you put on two socks. I have never known anyone to leave the house wearing only one sock. When you take them off at night there are still two of them. No matter what you did during the day, at bedtime you are still wearing two socks.

As a pair, they go into the laundry hamper, and as a pair they go into the washing machine. Then, into the dryer, where, abra-cadabra, one mysteriously goes missing.

Is there some static electric life force granted to socks in a dryer? Do they cast lots or draw straws to decide which one disappears? And, the biggest question of all: where do they go?

I could imagine a mountain as tall as Everest out there made of nothing but socks.

But I would rather not.

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