discovering the sock basket

[This was originally posted on September 15, 2008, and is reposted here mainly for my own amusement.]

Between early last week and the weekend, somewhere in there, Tim discovered the laundry basket that holds all the socks.

We have three or four large, rectangular laundry baskets and one, odd-man-out square laundry basket, and because I’m the only person in the house who ever folds laundry ever, I unofficially designated the square basket the one to hold all the socks. It just works, that’s all. As I pick the clothes out of the other baskets and fold them, I toss the socks into the square basket where they remain forever. We all have sock drawers, but each and every once of us, and I include myself here, goes to the square laundry basket in the morning to find a pair of socks. Nobody ever gathers up all their socks, mates them, tucks them into tight little elastic wads and puts them in the sock drawer. We simply don’t have that kind of ambition. And so in the basket they stay.

Which brings me to Tim, who was bitching one morning abound how he knows he has forty-two dozen pairs of socks, but there’s never any in the pile on his bed where he keeps all his clothes. It’s much more efficient than putting them in a dresser drawer, and don’t even ask about folding them. We tried to explain how nobody knows where the socks go, it’s just one of those mysteries of life that you grow to accept after a while, but it was like trying to explain heaven to an atheist: the clearer we tried to make it to him, the madder he got. Finally he stomped off to his room, presumably to pull up the floorboards looking for socks.

And then the other day as he was scuttling back to his room after wolfing down a bowl of Cheerios, he pretty much tripped over the square laundry basket, which was sitting on the living room floor next to the sofa, the spot it’s been occupying since we moved into the house in the spring of 2006. “Holy shit, my socks!” he shouted to nobody and everybody. “How long has this been here?”

I was truly mystified by his question, so I asked, “How long has what been here?” I wasn’t kidding. It really has been sitting there since 2006.

“This!” he shouted, gesticulating fervently at the basket heaped with socks of all colors and sizes. “This basket filled with socks! How long as it been sitting here?”

“I dunno, how long have we lived here?” his mother asked, not unreasonably. It didn’t seem possible that he hadn’t seen the basket sitting there for weeks, months, years, and yet he seemed truly flummoxed by its presence. We wanted to ask him about it, but he wasn’t listening to us at that point. Instead, he was burrowing through the basket of socks like a squirrel digging up his nuts. In just a minute or two he was headed back to his room with an armload of socks that may or may not have belonged to him.

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