December 15, 2003

When I was about six, I asked my mother why tube socks were called tube socks. She said, “Because it doesn’t matter which way you put them on.”

Ignoring the fact that this wasn’t properly an answer to my question, I inferred correctly that, if it didn’t matter which way you put tube socks on, then it did matter which way you put other socks on. I further inferred that, with non-tube socks, there was a right sock and a left sock.

And I couldn’t tell the difference.

I figured that, according to the laws of statistics, I was wearing the correct sock on the correct foot about half the time—clearly an unacceptable state of affairs, but I was far too ashamed of my ignorance to ask for help.

I finally overcame the stigma, however, and asked a particularly well-dressed teacher how to tell the right sock from the left sock. She patiently explained to me the way socks actually work (she wore stockings all the time, so don’t ask me why I thought she’d know about socks, but in the event she did) and put my fears to rest. I was free from that day on.

I would find the whole thing less embarrassing if this epiphanic conversation hadn’t happened ten years later, when I was sixteen.

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6 Responses to When I was about six,

  1. Joe Perez says:

    Nice post. > So are you gonna tell us? Now you got me wondering. 😉

  2. Wayne says:

    Ah? There’s a difference between the left and the righ sock? Opps, I’ve never thought about that… :-X So, what did she say?

  3. Thom says:

    That reminds me of my own anxiety and unanswered questions during approximately that same age range as to whether there were a correct way to wear underwear (e.g., penis up, down or sideways), and how correctly to use the damnable fly. I was sure that all the straight boys were born knowing all of this and that I was sure to be caught out because of my ignorance.

    For some reason, it also reminds me that when I was about 10 years old, my 17-year-old aunt told me, during a trip to the beach, that my nipples were “lopsided.” After that, I wouldn’t take my shirt off in public for at least another 10 years.

  4. J-I says:

    Yes, how does one tell the right sock from the left?

    I had a difficult time discovering that tube socks developed a stretched-out spot for the heel after frequent use. When I put my socks on, I had to turn them 180 degrees so my heel would fit.

  5. shah says:

    The hole in the socks corresponds to where the big toe should be silly! Actually, socks are quite liberal …

  6. Monkey says:

    Good thinking, Shah!

    I’d like to know how often the teacher had been asked that question before. I once asked my teacher about the clothes she was wearing, and she proceeded to tell me that it was ok to be gay.


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