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Gary Moore

Gary W. Moore

“Where’s my socks?” The universal question sounds from my closet as Arlene and I pack for our trip to see our grandsons in Sierra Madre, California.

“I did the wash this morning, so all of your socks are in your drawer,” Arlene responds.

Like every other man on the planet, my socks mysteriously disappear. Well, not exactly. It seems only one sock from each pair is part of the missing-in-action of footwear. I purchased eight new pairs in December. As I inventory all the socks in my drawer, I have one pair and seven socks that do not match each other. I walk out of the closet with the seven unmatched socks and question Arlene about the deepening mystery.

“You must have left them somewhere,” she casually responds.

“What? You think I go to the grocery store wearing a matching pair and accidentally lose one in frozen foods?”

“You figure it out,” she responds flippantly as she walks out of the bedroom.

I am certain this is an exchange between man and woman that happens all over the globe and has, since socks were invented. It’s odd that something like this would be a universal truth, but aside from being both frustrating and expensive, the question must be asked ...

“Where are all the missing socks?”

Is there a massive pile in a remote place that is yet to be discovered? If so, how did they get there? Does the dryer hungrily eat them up? Are there sock gremlins that arrive in the night or are they victims of a weird alien abduction? Or like Dr. Richard Kimble on a search for the one-armed man, should I be on a relentless mission to catch the one-legged sock thief?

As I scour the internet for answers, I find it truly is a worldwide epidemic. The list of the missing is in the millions annually. As I press the issue with my wife, she responds with authority, “If you put them in the dirty clothes basket, I wash them, dry them and put them in your drawer.”

My youngest son Travis moved home for six months while starting a new career. I realized that our laundry must be getting mixed up and he has my missing socks, but before I could ask, Travis emerges from his room and asks, “Do you have my socks?” I look up to see him holding five unmatched socks ... but they are not mine.

As I total the missing, my son and I have 12 missing socks. Arlene claims no responsibility and my obsessive-compulsive propensity kicks into gear. I search under the bed and in the cushions of the furniture. I open every drawer including the kitchen. I scan the dishwasher, refrigerator and trash compactor. No socks. I look in the garage. I search through the garbage. Honestly, they are not in our home. Then where are they?

I’m suspicious that manufactures spray a chemical on one sock in each pair that causes it to dissolve in the wash. That would explain Arlene’s claim that she puts them in the wash and takes them out. I realize she is now going to have to take inventory of what goes into the wash and what comes out, as the “washer and dryer” are emerging as leading suspects.

I posted this question on social media and Facebook erupted in theories. Longtime friend Diana “Dee Dee” Szymborski believes that the key to unraveling this mystery is to find all the missing bowls that match the Tupperware lids in her cabinet. She believes the missing socks will be found within those bowls. Many other theories emerge, but none seem plausible.

As I traveled to the airport, checked in and boarded our plane, all I could think about is the mystery of the missing socks. As I settled in for my flight, I mentally put on my Sherlock Holmes tweed, double-billed deer-stalker cap and realize there is a logical explanation to every riddle and pondered the possibilities as we passed over Iowa, Missouri, Kansas ... then suddenly, somewhere over southern Nevada ... I think I have it! Arlene had said, “If you put it in the dirty clothes basket, she washes them, dries them and returns them to my drawer,” but while that is all happening, I am wearing a mismatched pair of socks. While the first load is in the process of being cleaned, I drop my mismatched pair in the dirty clothes. A short time later, Arlene returns the clean clothes with an identically mismatched pair, exactly like the pair in the dirty clothes. The next day, I open the drawer and once again whine about my mismatched socks, mistakenly believing they are the same pair ... but alas ... it is the other half of the same pair and we keep revolving them in opposite wash cycles.

Elementary, my Dear Watson!

I am still in California visiting family, but upon my return home, I will test my hypothesis and match up clean and dirty socks for verification.

What do you think?

If we put our heads together, I believe this problem that has plagued men since the first cave-man asked his cave-wife, “Where’s my socks?” Back then, the cave-wife may have said, “I don’t know, Maybe you left it out and a sabretooth tiger ate it ... but if you put it in the basket, I drug it down to the river and beat them against a stone and brought them back.”

What is your theory? I’ve love to hear about it at gary@garywmoore.com.

Together, we can finally solve this dilemma for the betterment of human existence.

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Gary W. Moore is a syndicated columnist, speaker and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com

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