Laundry is a Mystery, Part 2

Forty-seven socks were washed. That’s 47 individual socks; 23 pairs and one lone sock without a mate. (More math, and for this I apologize.)

Where is the missing sock? This is a fundamental mystery of laundry. And it poses a dilemma: Do you keep the freshly washed lone sock and believe that its mate will resurface, or do you toss it away and assume the mate has gone forever?

This is not quite the glass half-full/half-empty dichotomy, but it’s similar. It’s about uncertainty and hope, and how to balance the two.

Until I’m certain that the missing sock will never be found, I live in hope. There are so many places where the missing sock could be hiding.

It could be in the laundry hamper, unwashed and overlooked but available for rescue and redemption at any time.

It could be hidden within the newly washed and dried laundry—the corners of fitted sheets seem to lure socks in the dryer. I discover these lost socks when I fold the sheets; or sometimes only after I unfold the sheets to use them again.

It could be stuck to the inner walls of the washer following the spin cycle. Or it could have been dropped anywhere on my route to or from the laundry room. Finding these stray socks is more difficult, but it’s not impossible if we resort to the Blanche DuBois principle of relying on the kindness of strangers. For there are always lone socks tacked to the bulletin board in the laundry room. They were found by neighbors, or strangers (sadly often one and the same), and hung there for their owners to claim them.

As long as there is a bulletin board in the laundry room, there is hope.


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