I’ve told this story before but I’ve never written it down. So now I will. It’s the story of my socks. Y’see, unlike the rest of the world, I wear two different colored socks. Usually nobody notices such a thing in the wintertime but in the summer, when I were shorts, it tends to stand out as I seem to be the only one doing it. There is no real reason to have the same color sock on each foot but everybody does. It’s not even thought about. Unless someone happens to notice my mismatched ones. Then they say, “Your socks don’t match”. Like that is a surprise to me.

It was late summer in 1988. My last semester in college. Like most college students I didn’t like to do laundry because it meant a couple of hours sitting in a laundry room being bored. Who wants that? So I, like a lot of college students, had a large supply of socks and underwear. About a month’s worth was probably average for a college student. That way you wouldn’t have to do laundry for at least three weeks.

Being a morning person and not a drinker I used to do my laundry on Sunday mornings. I had the run of the laundry room because nobody else was up and around that early. Plus there was no fun to be had at that hour so I didn’t have to miss out on anything to do laundry.

So there I was one Sunday morning. I had just finished washing and drying my clothes and was in the middle of folding them. I had folded most of them and was left with a basket full of socks. A month’s worth of socks is sixty of them and I thought to myself that I could spend the next ten minutes matching and folding socks or I could just not care if my socks matched. I chose the “Just not care if my socks matched” option.

Most of my socks at the time were tube socks. You know, the white ones with colored stripes on the calf. So really the only thing not matching was the colored stripes. I guess they were the training wheels of wearing mismatched socks.

After college I started getting solid color socks. I preferred bright colors because if I was going to mismatch my socks I might as well be obvious about it. Wearing a black and a dark blue sock would make people think that I mismatched them by accident and that was not what I wanted. People feel sorry for you when you mismatch your socks by accident. Who needs their pity?

I went with the bright colors for years. I liked them. After I did laundry they all went into one big pile in my drawer and on any given morning I’d pick the two colors I felt like wearing. It was a system that worked for me. Sometime in the late 1990’s solid, brightly colored socks became hard to find. I don’t know why. Some fancy of fashion I suppose. But that lead me to switching over to wearing one black and one white sock. One strange day that prompted a teenager in a schoolyard I was passing through to yell, “Black and white always look good together”.

My next change in sock color came with a change in wardrobe color. It was sometime in the early 2000’s when I just couldn’t stand to wear any color but green. Red bothered me, blue bothered me, yellow bothered me, purple bothered me, white bothered me, it all bothered me and I have no idea why. I could take some black so I switched my whole wardrobe over to just green and black. Therefore I wore one green sock and one black sock. At some point I even had a hard time finding green socks so I dyed some white socks green. That’s the only time in my life I’ve ever dyed anything.

After about five years of green and black I started to be okay with wearing other colors again. Nowadays I’m back to a full spectrum wardrobe and my socks are back to one white one and one black one. That’s fine with me because black and white are the easiest colors to find men’s socks in. I don’t know what happened to the glory days of the early 90’s when brightly colored socks were easy to find but they are nowhere these days.

After nearly twenty two years of wearing mismatched socks they look completely normal to me. I accidentally wear matching socks about as often as someone else would accidentally wear mismatching ones and when I do it looks odd. I can’t see why both of my socks should be the same color.

People often react oddly to seeing me wear two different color socks. That’s because they have no idea why they wear matching ones. They wear matching ones because that’s what they were taught as children and that’s how the store sells them but it has never entered their mind to give a thought to why. It’s a strange thing. It’s society’s programing at its most basic level. As much variation as there may be in clothing everybody matches their socks. From punk rock to steam punk and from high fashion to low fashion there are matching socks.

So what conclusion have I come to after decades of wearing mismatched socks? Nothing profound really. People don’t want to think about socks at all. If my mismatched socks makes them think for a minute the only thing that comes to their mind is that I’m weird. Then they go right back to not caring about socks as long as they match.