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Suburban Island

White Socks
Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2003, 8:09 p.m.

Question: Whatdayamean?

What I Learned: One personís answer is another personís annoyance.

I think I am asking a simple question but maybe not. For instance, the other night after the stinky shrimp incident (see prior entry), I asked my husband if he had gotten rid of the steamed shrimp stuff from the house. ďOh, yes,Ē he said. Following my nose, I went into the kitchen and bee-lined it right to the trash. It was true; all the discarded shells had been carted out to the trash but there, nestled comfortable with the damp paper towels and empty cans, was the box and wrapping from the shrimp. In a literal sense the shrimp was gone. In a real sense the shrimp lingered on.

I guess itís all in the interpretation.

There are lots of examples of this question and answer quandary in my home. For instance, the white sock Q&A is one of our favorites. In this event, which takes place at least weekly, I ask my husband if there are any white socks in the dark wash. ďOh no,Ē he says. Later on, as I pull out the kidís dark hooded pullovers that they just got for the holidays, good navy sweaters, and my black knits, I wonder where all the little balls of lint have come from. Eventually, I find, clinging to the bottom inside of the dryer, multiple pairs of fuzzy white socks.

Later, as I am picking perfectly formed white dots from my dark clothes, I wonder Ė where did I go wrong? Was I not specific enough? Should I name the socks Ė donít put Fred and Ethel in the wash with the dark clothes? Should I label the socks with permanent marker as to color? Should I hide the white socks under beds and behind closet doors during dark laundry sessions? Should I only allow dark socks in the house in the winter and make everyone go sock-less in the summer months so no white socks would be available to toss in with the dark loads to begin with?

Maybe my husband is just being super helpful. Perhaps he thinks I donít have enough to do and doesn't want me to be bored. Maybe he thinks itís a nice hobby for me Ė a bit like knitting but none of the clear evidence of my poor handiwork. If I keep plucking these dots, stuck like glue to the outfit I need to wear to work tomorrow, I might have enough stockpiled to make my own cloth. Perhaps itís simply a practical attempt at managing the clothing budget. Perhaps he feels sorry for the poor white socks Ė being left out of the wash like that. Perhaps he is just a very sensible individual who doesnít care about lint on clothes as long as they are clean.

I donít know but I will tell you this - I threw out the shrimp box and Iím throwing out the little white dots too. If one more white sock goes into the dark laundry, someoneís best black sweater will be in the wash with them, and I can assure you, it will not be mine.

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