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0 Comments 16 February 2012

Dear Norman,

There is a mysterious phenomenon that has plagued me over the years.  I know deep down I’m not the only one that has this problem but I was hoping you would be able to give me a helping hand or foot…cover, so to speak.

Since I started doing laundry I’ve noticed that once and awhile, seemingly for no reason, one of my socks will go missing.  Sometimes I find them under the bed a few days later.  Perhaps I should check before the load starts?  Sometimes I find them under the dryer a couple weeks later.  Perhaps I should check more frequently than when my bouncy ball gets away from me?  Sometimes they are lost never to be seen again.

The lost ones have become quite frightening of late.  That typically happens from the mid life of a sock onward.  Well, the last time I did laundry I lost one after its first use.  I checked all the usually “lost” places and came up empty.  So my question is – can/do socks disintegrate into the lint trap, kind of like a self cleaning oven.


Mismatched Foot Covers (Wanblee, South Dakota)



Dear Mismatched.

I’ve given it a good think and I believe your question can be addressed on two levels – the practical and the existential.

I’ll take the first part first.

Now, the small sample of your usual “lost” places is telling. Finding your lost socks under the bed is a quick fix. If you’re anything like me you like to go to bed as ‘snug as a bug in a rug’ SO you most likely keep your socks on to feel toasty. Then, you get too warm throughout the night and involuntarily maneuver your socks off to release body temperature. It happens.

Like most people, when you toss off your covers to perform your morning calisthenics your recently disposed of socks get caught in the wave of exercise enthusiasm….not to be seen for several weeks.

As for the occasional lost sock soul found under the dryer…that is easily explained too! While you’re performing the switch from washer to dryer your energetic mind probably wanders to think of more exciting pursuits. Dangling participles, Warren Zevon, and the best way to prepare a scallop etc. Pay attention! As a general rule of thumb you should approach everything you do in life with the same amount of precision and attention that you do for rectal cleanliness.

Now for the existential approach:

I find your analogy apt. A person disintegrating into the lint trap of life, always searching for their ‘lost sock’. Where did it go? How do I find it? What does it all mean? Well I say this:

Reconsider the contrast of semblance vs. resemblance.

Thanks for writing,


- who has written 512 posts on The Shade.

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