Posts Tagged ‘uncertainty’


March 7, 2011

I lost a sock.

In the catalog of life’s disappointments this registers somewhere above breaking the point off a favorite pencil and far below stepping in gum. Yet, I am disappointed.

I liked the socks formerly known as a pair: brown and white striped body reaching just above the ankle and a solid brown heel and toe for accents. Although I’d owned them for years—possibly as many as ten—they were in good condition, their elastic still stretchy, their soles free of holes. I own many pairs of socks (probably more than I should, really) but I wore these frequently. Now they’re gone.

Well, not they exactly, but he…it…one. I couldn’t even say which, for socks are interchangeable in that way. First left, then right—the ultimate in apolitical. Socks don’t mind which feet they cover—not like shoes, which will tell you right off if you’ve put them on in a way they simply do not wish to be worn.

It would have been possible for a neighbor, upon finding my stray sock in the washer or dryer (for I do believe the sock disappeared in the laundry room) to tack it to the bulletin board beside the other matchless socks. I might have seen it there and taken it back. (It would be highly unlikely, but incredibly exciting, if my sock ended up here.)

But no one found my sock, or if someone did, he or she probably tossed it in the trash. I’m certain no one would have mistaken my sock for her own.

There will be other socks, but none quite like this one.

Laundered Money

January 5, 2011

I found four dollars in the washer. This has presented me with a dilemma.

It’s not 400 dollars, but it’s not nothing. If I lost four dollars I would miss it. Does the person who lost the four dollars wonder where it’s gone? I would return it, but how?

This is not like finding pennies on the sidewalk. They’re up for grabs as far as I can tell. Sometimes they’re dropped intentionally by people who treat them with disdain, if not contempt. Pennies add up if you collect them, but some people don’t seem to care.

If I found 400 pennies on the sidewalk would I feel conflicted about picking them up? Probably not, even though I’d notice them more: their weight, the metallic jangle they’d make in my pocket. They’d leave more of an impression than the four wrinkled, but freshly laundered dollar bills on my table waiting to be put to use. Then again, maybe not.

Laundry is a Mystery, Part 2

March 1, 2010

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.