Lost sock vortex

The 80s had a sniglet for it: hozone, the “place where one sock in every laundry load disappears to.”

Ten years in Albany, N.Y., in a four-story, 2,000-square-foot space with a dog who occasionally ate underthings, I had maybe five socks go missing.

Six years in Colorado Springs, in a one-bedroom bungalow with a dog who’s given up textiles, I’ve got enough motley singles to cast a sock puppet version of “Ben-Hur.”

Either I’ve developed some kind of early-onset sock dementia, or a pocket dimension in my laundry room is sucking them up when I’m not looking. (Perhaps it’s related to whatever power vortex is responsible for leaching driving skills as soon as one crosses the border into Colorado.)

Whatever the cause, something is afoot, and it’s wearing me down.

I may not know what the day will bring, but knowing I will face it wearing a pair of matching socks makes the chaos easier to bear. At least, it once did.

I’m what you might call a subsistence launderer. I live alone and am usually running late, so my washer is my dirty clothes hamper (if you don’t count the floor) and I tend to dress straight from the dryer. Assembling a matching pair of socks used to be a fun game, a sartorial version of “Concentration,” until it became the most stressful and dissatisfying part of the morning.

See, we take sole-mates seriously in my family.

When I was 15 and dyed my hair blue-black and spiked it Robert Smith-style, I presented the new look to my father, who gave me a thoughtful once-over and said:

“Are those my socks?”

(Yes they were. Or, one of them was.)

I tend to own the kinds of socks that mate for life — art socks, statement socks, socks with stories. Dad, however, bulk-purchases a single style and brand in black or white, so essentially has a drawer of universal donors.

I should have followed his example.

To date, I have 33 singles lacking mates, which feels like more socks than I owned when I moved in, and have purchased since. Adds a whole new angle to the concept of string theory, no?

Perhaps it’s just the universe nudging me to get more organized, get better at cleaning, stop being nostalgic about lost clothes.

Or maybe what it’s saying is: Time to visit Dad.


Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

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