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Socks—Unsung heroes in a stressful world

November 14th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Jakob Asplund

A couple of weeks ago, I started to realize that there are very few things that give people pure satisfaction. If there ever were a “greatest feelings the world” list based on the units of satisfaction brought to people’s lives after the experience, every list would be unique. There would, of course, be some frequently occurring items, like sleep, bathroom breaks, morning coffee, sex, a cold beer and a nice warm bath.

And then, of course, there’s the pure joy of a new pair of socks.

After walking or running around all day, our feet take a pretty bad beating—all crammed up in shoes in all shapes and sizes, many not actually very foot-friendly. The feeling of airing your feet after a long day and then putting on a fresh pair of cotton socks can be nothing short of amazing.

In a world where many things can be dark and gruesome, our feet help carry us through the day, not that they always do it smilingly. Life offers many obstacles, like puddles, for instance. When you walk through a puddle, the first thing that goes through your mind is most likely wet socks, and you know you’re in for cold, soggy socks that slowly warm but are still soggy, mixed with perspiration.

Feet are among the biggest producers of body sweat. Everyone knows this, but maybe different ways. Most of us have an uncle or a friend who can clear out whole rooms simply by taking their shoes off. Even the cutest girl smelling as sweet as Gardenias can do a good job stinking up a room.

These terrible problems can be fixed with a pair of new socks. What makes socks so incredible is that they absorb sweat and push it to places where air can evaporate moisture, keeping feet clean, warm and healthy. This is the actual, intended purpose of the sock, but these days socks are used for many different things and come in many different shapes.

The sock has been worn ever since cavemen put pieces of animal skin on their feet and wrapped the skin with hide lacings of some sort. Nowadays there are so many kinds of socks that we are running out of names for them.

Dress socks—or church socks, as some people call them—have multiple uses, which make this one of the most popular choice of sock. They can be worn for everyday purposes or when dressing up is required. Then there’s the sport sock, great for athletics or recreation. There are thicker fuzzy socks for when it gets very cold and also socks you don´t necessarily wear but instead hang on the mantle. There are even socks for people who do not want to show others that they are wearing any at all, called ankle socks.

And don’t forget nylons and stockings. Hosiery in early modern time was often the subject of some of the most scandalous and shocking things. It created a mass hysteria with the help of movies. It became such a huge phenomenon that people started questioning if love was actually real or if it was something made up by that times advertising agencies, just to sell nylons.

But it’s not all glory and wonders. Socks get lost in the dryer or mixed up in mismatched pairs. This can be unsettling. Sometimes the issue might be two right foot socks. Or different colors.

These inconveniences can be easily solved simply by choosing a fitting personal image to go with your socks. Who has never used the excuse that they are in a hurry and did not have the time to change the socks so they matched? Or what about letting everyone know that putting on a white sock and a black sock was intentional so that you could learn right from left?

There are 14 different pairs of Nike socks in my drawer, plus a number of black dress socks and Calvin Klein ankle socks. It is hard to keep track of them all after a few weeks of washing and drying. Every few months it is time for a new pair or two, and on birthdays and during Christmas it is one of the most recurring gifts, because they are really appreciated. You can never have too many socks.

Socks really don’t get enough credit. In a world of recurring financial crises and floods, where environmentalists keep nagging us about littering and recycling and gas mileage, few things actually make us happy.

But socks are one of them.

Enjoying the small things is important to cope with our stressful modern lives. Putting on a new pair of socks is an excellent example of one of these. Celebrate our feet.


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