SOCK STORIES by Debra H. Goldstein
Have you ever noticed the socks a person wears? Like the words a writers put on paper, each pair tells a story or evokes images or feelings.
For example, my husband wears dark socks to his office because he has bought into the theory that they look more look more professional than gym socks, but his disinterest in how he dresses is reflected by his unwillingness to take the time to match the color of his socks to the shade of his slacks. He’s just as likely to wear black with brown as he is to grab a pair of brown socks. Joel is most comfortable in gym socks and sneakers. To my chagrin, his yucky looking tube socks and an old pair of slip-ons are the image indelibly pressed into our neighbors’ minds when they seem him going outside every morning to retrieve his precious newspaper.
A young man I know tells a different story through his sock choices. He considers himself to be a player. Consequently, he coordinates the sharpest socks I’ve ever seen with tailor made suits and shirts, as well as specialized pocket handkerchiefs or patterned ties.
Personally, I’ve always been fond of wearing socks that tell a story or bring a memory back to me. I wear Chanukah, Mah jongg, and other holiday socks to make a statement for the moment, much as one does with a Christmas sweater. On a bad day, I choose between the comfort afforded by two pairs of warm soft fuzzy socks.
Last week, when we took a family cruise to Alaska, the socks I ended up wearing not only created a story for the moment, but became part of memories I will pull up in the future.
The ages in our group ranged from five to seventy-five. I wasn’t the oldest, but I easily was the group’s cattle herder. Before we sailed, I reminded everyone to bring passports, cold weather and rain gear (and of course our coldest day was 72 degrees and the only time it rained was once while we were sleeping), and other essentials. I chided, sent e-mails, and while packing managed to leave my air pushed out of it plastic bag of socks on the dining room table.
I arrived on the ship with only the striped sneaker socks I was wearing, but never fear, cruise ships sell everything. That is why I am now the owner of pink and purple socks that all say Alaska and have moose heads, full sized mooses, bears, and something I’m not sure of on them.
Each morning, as I pulled on a pair of these socks, they reminded me I was sharing Alaska with people who matter to me more than anything else. The animals, background mountains, and whatever it was on one pair that I wasn’t sure of, also made a statement that this would be a day of new experiences and beautiful terrain.
Our most varied day was in Juneau. For us, it was the day of the glaciers. Joel and I took the most sedate way of seeing them – busing and hiking to lookout points, but even from a distance, the beauty of massive pieces of ice broken from the main glacier fascinated me. What I saw and the ranger’s movie made me ever so much more aware of global warming because of how the glacier itself has receded. My daughter and her husband kayaked out to the glacier; my two sons took a float plane into the glacier area; and our five year old grand-daughter and her parents visited a dog camp and rode a dog sled. Everyone came back to the ship impressed by what we experienced.
From now on, whenever I put on a pair of my Alaskan socks, I will remember the looks of happiness everyone had while telling me about their day.
My initial anger at forgetting my socks has been replaced by the stories my new ones will always unlock. Whenever I see the pink moose or either "Moose Hug" or "Alaska" on my socks, memories and scenes from the cruise will be triggered – much as words create mental images in a good book, short story or poem.