Socks are important. Be they the thick workaholics inside the boots of a day laborer or the stylish yet humble argyle on the feet of a day trader, our socks are a layer of armor against a chafing world. Sadly, a sock’s lifespan can be short and it is sad when a hole is discovered in the toe or heel of a favorite pair. Even worse is the abrupt loss of a good sock in its prime. In either case, without its twin the surviving stocking is condemned to live out the remainder of its days in a pile of dust rags, in a shine box, or maybe in the drawer of crazy aunt who doesn’t care what she wears.
I was discussing the plight of such raiment orphans with Dan Kilian who admitted having an emotional moment at the pathetic sight of one of his own that had lost its mate.
The following scenario tells one possible alternative for a sock that endures without its better half.
The Sock Puppet
The sock puppet wasn’t much of a puppet. There was no mouth stitched into the toe or button eyes sewn on. Really, there were no anthropomorphic features of any kind. He simply pulled an athletic sock over his fist and stretched it up his bare forearm so that the cuff with the three red stripes was just below his elbow.
His light colored garments did not enjoy the benefits of being separated from the dark fabrics on laundry day and as a consequence, regular washing in these unsegregated loads had tinged the original crisp white the color of a rainy day. Normal wear had painted a dark footprint on the sole and and had strained the elasticity so that the sock resembled loose skin.
He moved his wrist up and down bringing the puppet to life. His extended fingers gave what was roughly the head section a pronounced beak. With nothing to serve as eyes or mouth the creature took on the macabre appearance of a condemned man on the hangman’s scaffold, bobbing his hooded head in anticipation of the end.
The puppeteer’s attempt at ventriloquism was no better. He made no effort to obfuscate the movement of his own lips while the sock performed its routine in high pitched voice.
“Hi, everybody. I’m…” It paused and the head looked upward searching the heavens for a nifty stage name. It found no inspiration there and the puppet master demonstrated his mediocrity further, continuing: “…I’m Socks.”
The introduction was met with groans and rolling eyes from the audience who’d gathered.
“Oh, now wait one darn minute,” scolded Socks. “You know what you people need? I’ll tell you what. Imagination, that’s what.”
Mouths curled into unimpressed smirks at the pot regarding the kettle.
“You think it’s easy being a sock puppet? You think it’s all fun and games?”
“It hasn’t been fun so far,” someone shouted.
“Oh, a heckler, eh. Stuff a sock in it buddy!” Socks giggled at his own joke as the crowd grew restless and impatient grumbles began.
“I wasn’t always a puppet you know. But I lost my mate in a tragic laundry accident and I was forced to look for other work.”
“Was he your right hand man,” the heckler gibed on.
Ignoring: “Who’s going to hire a single sock? You might be surprised to learn there aren’t that many amputees out there. So I used my imagination and went into show business.”
“Well, as a sock that’s part of the act, wiseguy.”