The last time Stan saw Louise, they were being tossed around in the dryer. They usually enjoyed the experience, flipping about in the warm air, laughing and dizzy. On this last occasion, Louise became separated from Stan and did not reappear into the laundry basket at the end of the cycle. Stan watched the clothes being sorted and folded, then screamed as he was carelessly dropped into The Drawer, which closed from above as darkness pushed up against him.
He was snapped out of his aloneness by a voice:
“Hey there!” said the friendly male voice of an Old Grey, misshapen, polyester/cotton-blend sock.
“Welcome!” came the innocent sound of a colorful, child-size, Polka Dot number with a lacy trim.
“Where am I?” asked Stan, as his eyes adjusted to the darkness and he began to make out the shapes and colours which surrounded him.
“You’re in the Single Socks Drawer. We’re all here waiting for a match. You should make a profile to help you find someone quicker,” said Old Grey.
“I don’t know,” said Stan uncertainly. “I’ve never been alone before. Besides, I’m sure Louise will show up and we’ll be reunited soon.”
“That’s what we all said when we first arrived,” said Old Grey. “Denial is the first stage. You’ll be okay. I can help you when you’re ready. I help everyone with tech support. We’ll have you up and running in no time. Besides, it’s your only way outta here.”
“We’re never getting out of here!” declared a red Compression sock.
“Relax, you’re so uptight!” exhaled a tall, lean Sport sock between push-ups, while an extra-tall Hockey sock, striped and malodorous, repeatedly stretched in a nearby corner.
How can I relax?” questioned Compression. “I’ll never find my sole mate!’
“Not with that attitude,” said Sport. “You gotta want it! Visual it every day! Stay focused, work hard, and you can achieve your goals!”
“Blah-blah-blah. That’s what all you jocks say,” said Old Grey. “You guys are the only ones who regularly find a mate, even when you don’t match. Different colours, different lengths, different styles—it doesn’t seem to matter. Haphazardly plucked from the Drawer of death to a marriage of convenience. It’s not love, it’s desperation.”
“Not true,” piped up the small golf Sockette. I’m an athletic sock and I’ve been here for a long time looking for love.”
“You must have misunderstood me,” said Sport condescendingly. “I was talking about athletic socks, not golf socks. Har, har, har!”
A sleek, Argyle dress sock joined in the conversation, adding in a snobby tone: “It won’t take me long. It’s all about using the right keywords—symmetrical design, silk, with top ribbing added for a little mischief. Besides, once I flash my dashing good looks, the ladies will come running.”
Argyle looked down at an old Plain Black dress sock with a hole in the toe and a frayed, thin heel and continued, “Unlike some. Hey, old guy, still trying to use that factory-fresh photo as your profile picture? Face it, it might get your foot in the door, but you’ll never get to first base.”
“So it’s an older photo. I still feel young. It’s what’s on the inside that counts,” said Plain Black defensively.
“You poor, deluded thing. Nothing’s ever gonna be on the inside of you once your true identity is revealed. You’re nothing but a fraud and a holy mess,” sneered Argyle.
Suddenly, from under a pile of kids’ socks, sheer, prima donna Panty Hose groaned, “What am I doing here? I’m not even a sock! I come with two feet, attached to two legs! I’m not damaged or incomplete. I’m perfect in every way, and I’ll never be able to identify with any of you! Ever!”
Granny sock ignored the drama but comforted her. “It’ll be okay, dear. I’m so pleased you can embrace your truth. We’re all special and perfect in our own way. One day someone will appreciate you, and you’ll find the life you’re looking for. Look at me, I’ve been here since 1974 and I haven’t given up on me. Been through four moves and I’m still here. I’m a survivor.”
Ironically, a Silly sock chimed in with a bitter attack: “Get over yourself, Granny. You’ve been reading too much Brené Brown. You’ve obviously had an interesting history, what with all the coloured stripes and the ten toe holders and all. But you’re only here because you represent an era that’s hard to let go of. You’re a reminder of brashness and youth, and the anticipation of a life that’s full of possibilities and hope, not yet hindered by the wear and tear of work, and kids, and responsibilities. Your former mate was probably left under a park bench on the corner of Haight and Ashbury after a love-in, or under the stage at the last Simon and Garfunkel concert. Face it, you’re a relic, little more now than a wistful memory. This is your last stop, my friend. Get comfortable.”
“Wow,” said Granny, momentarily stunned. Then, summoning a voice and a courage which had been suppressed for too long, she declared with conviction, “I had no idea I was Drawer-mates with an armchair analyst. Although, now that I look closer at you, I must cut you some slack—it must be tough, always having to use fancy language to compensate for that fine display of tacos decorating your exterior. Are you even a real sock or just a throwback from that show Promotional Material Gone Bad?”
Startled by her own malicious retort, Granny quickly softened, “What I meant to say, dear, was…were you bullied as a child?”
Before Silly could formulate a response, Old Grey hissed, “Shh, I hear something.”
The group fell silent as footsteps approached. The Drawer practically vibrated from the tension in every fiber of every sock. In came the blinding light as the Drawer was opened, and a single sock was chosen. ◆