How Much Can I Legitimately Write About Putting On A Sock?

This is a challenge to myself to write as much as possible about putting on a sock. If I can make 1,000 words, I win a weekly column in the Daily Mail about life’s little trials, and how men and women are different sometimes.
I had a little panic this morning. I put on a sock that was too small for me.
I’d taken the sock out of my drawer dozens of times before. And usually, I squint at it and put it back, so I can do exactly the same thing the next day. This means that I have developed a little relationship with this sock – it’s the never-say-die sock with the can-do spirit. Today, through recklessness, wild optimism, or a begrudging acknowledgement of the sock’s tenacity, I thought I’d try to put it on.
A little more information about the sock might be appropriate here. This sock has long since lost its partner, and it is an angry looking, gnarled thing. Hewn from a coarse, “sporting” fabric, with unforgiving elastic ribbing snarling around the ankle. A thinness at the toes implies that it has been worn, but I swear to you now, on a big pile of holy books, unicorn blood and my mum – I have never worn this sock.
If the sock’s lost its partner, I hear you cry in unison in a shriek that blots out the sun, why the hell are you wearing it? I’m ashamed to say that I wear odd socks. This has led, on occasion, to accusations of self-conscious kookiness. “Haha, odd socks. How edgy! What’s next? Gonna shit in a pram?” No, It’s not that. I’m simply not patient enough to pair my socks off. The idea of standing over a pile of socks, and tucking them into little socky balls just seems so repulsively anal. I’ve taken steps to find a viable workaround – I’ve bought 20 pairs of identical socks. But this doesn’t seem to work. Probably because I didn’t throw away my old socks. Fuck. I’ve only just worked that out.
I’m not even certain the sock’s mine. I’ve inherited, from somewhere, a pair of boxer shorts so baggy and vast that when I’ve felt adventurous enough to wear them, my balls began to ache from a sense of desolation. So this aggressive sock could belong to anyone who’s been in my room and taken their socks off. And if you’ve been in my room and taken your socks off, hello. How’s it going? We must go for drinks sometime. I could bring the sock.
Incidentally, I’d be very interested to know if anyone else’s balls ache when they need a big shit – it’s something that’s bothered me for a while, now, and everytime I ask someone do your balls ache when you need a big shit? they look at me in such a cock-headed way that I have to laugh and say “haha, me either! That’d be fucking strangeness!“.
I’ve got the sock over the width of my foot, and already I’m feeling a shade claustrophobic. But I’d feel daft just taking it off again – like I wasn’t doing myself or the sock any justice. So I keep worming my fingers around the elasticated ribbing to work it over my heel. The tightness of the elastication starts to feel suffocating, and I let out a little whimper.
If you take a coat off sloppily, the sleeve can fold inside itself. And when you try to put the coat back on, you meet an impenetrable foreskin of cloth. The more pressure you put on the inverted sleeve, the more it locks around your fist. And no amount of spinning in a circle, trying to look what’s gone wrong will loosen it. And that’s the first experience I’ve ever had with Dressing Yourself Panic. But in the Coat Scenario, there are a hundred things you can do; you can run, waving your arm above your head, into a Budgen’s store, where the cashiers will be glad to help you. You can phone someone with your free hand and ask them to sing lullabies. You could be brazen and walk into town, like you meant to do it. The one thing you mustn’t do, and the one thing that it is not within me to do, is calmly take off the coat, and unfold the sleeve before putting it on properly.
I am in a very different situation, however. And as the sock reluctantly stutters and stalls over my heel, with one finger of each hand held captive in the clamp of the ribbing, I can’t do anything. Three of my limbs are occupied with this fucking sock, and I’m stuck with this stubborn sense of not-moving-backwards that is making me behave like a quietly demented obsessive. I can’t phone anyone, I can’t move anywhere, and I’m naked except for this one sock, so Budgen’s is out. I don’t even want to wear the sock any more – I hate this sock.
And that’s when time momentarily loses meaning, and I’m convinced I’ll be like this forever. It’ll just be seconds – probably even a fraction of a second – until rationality lands on me, and I take the sock off. But until then, my entire body is in my throat, and I’m absolutely certain that everyone I know is watching me, and I am going to fall off the chair and crack my head on the corner of something.
When sanity descends, I take the sock off and find one of the smooth, slip-slidy Lycra-lined luxury socks that cost me more than a pound a pair. The sun rises, a cartoon sparrow sings, and life transforms back into a catalogue of possibilities. Did I throw the sock away? No. The bin was in a different room, and I was still too flustered from my ordeal to navigate to the kitchen. So I put it back in the drawer.
I’m at work now, but the sock’s still there. Presuming I don’t come home to find myself wearing it, in a shock Tales of the Unexpected twist, I’m going to burn it. I’m going to take it into the back garden and burn it. I understand that there’s still its missing partner to be accounted for, and I’m quite prepared for sock-puppet revenge attacks should someone stitch buttons and a tongue onto it. Until the dramatic sequel, however, I will have won.
1,016 words about putting on a sock. I must surely win the coveted “I Can’t Rate Myself And My Experiences Highly Enough” Award for 2005. Give me crowns.

3 thoughts on “How Much Can I Legitimately Write About Putting On A Sock?”

  1. When I was a little boy, every Christmas eve a group of us used to go around the wards of the local hospital singing carols to the patients, in our charming sing-song childish voices. Some of the old people didn’t seem to like carols and would shout at us. We didn’t care. We were singing carols and being good, and Jesus would be certain to ring up Santa and tell him to give us K-9s for Christmas.
    There was a bloke there every year, called Owain* maybe, who was a bit of a geeky misfit. He liked classical music. We were 9. (Of course, the rest of us weren’t geeky misfits at all, for preferring to spend Christmas eve singing at almost dead pensioners rather than staying at home experimenting with advocaat and hunting for presents). The wards would always be dimly lit, so you needed a torch to read your carol sheet. We never had torches, but Owain always had lots of torches, which he would lend to you. Torches were social currency for Owain.
    It’s true; you can ask my brother.
    Years later, when Owain went to university, my mum met his mum over the luxury coleslaws in Markses. They spoke about how Owain was getting on. The news wasn’t good. It seems away from the bosom of his family, Owain had adopted something of an “alternative” lifestyle. He’d stopped cleaning his room and – his mum disclosed in hushed, tremulous tones – taken to wearing “odd socks”. If you ask me, the implication was that Owain had lost all reason and morality, and was probably going about doing lots of deviant and depraved acts in those odd socks. He was probably dangerously close to “doing a Huntley”.
    Odd socks spell trouble for mums.
    *Names have been changed. Posed by models.


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