The truth is I don’t put much stock in matching socks.
I wear matchies for important events like funerals, but for grocery shopping on a Tuesday and other everyday adventures, I find mismatched socks just as practical. In a pinch, they can even be used as conversation starters.
Here’s how it works: If I open my sock-and-clutter drawer in the morning and there are two identical, or nearly-identical socks sitting right on top, I will wear them happily. Contrary to the opinion of some, I don’t go out of my way to wear odd socks. If, however, I don’t immediately see a match, I abandon Plan A: a pair, and go straight to Plan B: two clean socks, no holes.
Plan C also exists, but it’s Top Secret.
The upshot of this strategy is that more-often-than-not my feet are swaddled uniquely.
For instance, as I write this, a blue-grey Smartwool thing covers my right foot. Meanwhile, on my left, I’ve got a nice, beige number that is definitely a bit fancier than an average sport sock, but probably not fancy enough to be considered a dress sock. It would fit right in on Casual Fridays at a life insurance company.
I’ve been thinking about my sock-wearing approach since I went to Calgary last weekend for the wedding of an old roommate, Chris Cutler. I saw a dozen people there that I haven’t seen in nearly a decade. We whooped it up nicely, and retold the tall tales of our youth, but inevitably an element of comparison crept in.
People wanted to know who’s married? Who has kids? Who has a mortgage? Who’s up? Who’s down? They wanted to know how I’d changed.
So I was driven to tally the merits and demerits of my life over the past 10 years.
My changes include the loss of that wonderful and ignorant feeling that everything will be alright in the end, and the accumulation of a bit of wisdom — I hope.
But some things don’t change. At one point, someone leaned over to me by the buffet and asked, “So Peter, are you wearing matching socks tonight?”
As it turns out, I was; but that’s not the point. The point is that my reputation for mismatched socks has remained steady across decades, locations, and mental states. It’s one of the things people remember about me.
It’s also interesting to note that it has taken me no effort to cultivate this notoriety. If anything, my consistent reputation for inconsistent socks is characterized by my distinct lack of effort.
In other words, odd socks come naturally to me; they are a sign that Jickling is still Jickling. When I start wearing matching pairs regularly, you’ll know I’m in trouble.
Peter Jickling is a Whitehorse playwright and the assistant editor of What’s Up Yukon