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Socking it to the Readers.

by Dear Jon
March 25, 2008

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ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

When is it okay for socks not to be the same color as the pants you are wearing? Do black sweat-socks perform the same fashion function as white sweat-socks, or as dark formal-wear socks? If a man wears dark athletic shorts and black sweat-socks with dark sneakers to a block-party picnic, does his fifteen year-old daughter have the right to feel humiliated? When do socks need to be replaced: If the hole is in the heel instead of the toe, can they be kept longer? Can socks be worn to bed? Can socks ever be worn with sandals? What about clogs? Can pants and shoes ever be worn without socks? And who made up these rules anyway?

Yours Truly,
Lost in the Sock Drawer


Dear Lost Sock,

Wow. With record-high gasoline prices and record-low consumer confidence, you have single-handedly uncovered the true stressor in every family. Maybe if we all felt better about our socks, and maybe if we only bought socks manufactured within the United States by documented workers, we would begin to turn the corner economically and return to prestige in our world.

If gasoline, over-priced houses and wars financed by Chinese purchasers of US Treasury Bonds got us into this mess, what will get us out is government rebates, HD Digitial signal converters, and socks.

At least we know that we, as Americans, can put our socks on one at a time. My advice is that you exercise your freedom by choosing to ignore sock conventions. You are, after all, AMERICAN, which means you are FREE. You are free to wear dark formal socks with blue jeans or shorts even at block parties for the simple reason that there is nothing you can do to reduce dependence on foreign oil, Chinese lending on our national debt, or to be cool or even just non-embarrassing to any teenager in your house. And you will be FREE to wear socks the way you want to wear socks, where you want to wear socks, for at least another three years! Sometime after that, clothing manufacturers will join forces with out-of-work lawyers looking for new missions after victories in their War on Smoking in Bars, War on Analogue Broadcasting, and War on Fast Food Restaurants, to lobby local and federal government in a War on Embarrassing Socks.

Enjoy these three years. Live it up. Wear socks with polka dots. Wear Argyles--the socks with Highland-Tartan designs. Wear socks that have individually fitted toes.

However, if you want to exercise your freedom to conform to sock etiquette before city ordinances or federal law require you to do so, I will answer your questions one by one:

When is it okay for socks not to be the same color as the pants you are wearing? Casual wear shorts and denim jeans may be worn with athletic socks that do not match the color of the jeans, especially if the jeans are blue, the socks are white, and the shoes are sneakers.

Do black sweat-socks perform the same fashion function as white sweat-socks, or as dark formal-wear socks? Black athletic socks were invented because of black denim jeans. Be very cautious with wearing these socks with any other clothing combination.

If a man wears dark athletic shorts and black sweat-socks with dark sneakers to a block-party picnic, does his fifteen year-old daughter have the right to feel humiliated? Your kids have the inalienable right to be feel humiliated by anything at all you do, say, or wear, including hair-styles, from when they are 9 until they are 23.

When do socks need to be replaced: If the hole is in the heel instead of the toe, can they be kept longer? If you are pretty sure that you will be keeping your shoes on in all work and social environments throughout the day, you might get away with the occasional sock with holes. What you wear in your own home will depend on the ridicule you want to receive from spouses, kids, house-guests, and roommates. To be safe replace your socks.

Can socks be worn to bed? That depends on what you are doing in bed. The male foot is a singularly ugly appendage; however, it is apparently even less sexy for the husband to keep socks on when the wife is ready to share the goodies. Even though the husband?s foot has no role in the activity, and will hardly be visible as it will hopefully be out of the way, there is something just ?wrong? in a turn-off kind of way about keeping the socks on.

Meanwhile, the female foot, like every other part of the female body, is mysteriously beautiful and sexy. I am not making this up; this is even Biblical. A passage in the apocrypha which I don?t have time to look up describes how a Jewish heroine named Judith was able to distract an enemy general who seems to have had a foot-fetish. So in the spirit of Judith women paint their toe-nails, wear toe-rings and ankle-chains, and many women insist on wearing flip-flops until there is six inches of snow on the ground and/or the weather is minus 15 degrees, which I am pretty sure Judith never needed to worry about.

This might at least partly explain why women?s feet, even if gracefully arched and styled in toe-nail polish, have the surface temperature of ice-cubes. This can have a chilling effect, literally, on night-time marital activities, even if the only thing going on between husband and wife is sleep. Often a man will keep socks on in self-defense. Men will want to suggest to their wives that a sleep-study performed about ten years ago which I don?t have time to look up, found that warm feet help a person fall asleep more quickly. I am currently living in the Chicago area where winter has now lasted approximately 8 months. I wear athletic socks to bed.

Can socks ever be worn with sandals? No, never: It always has been and always will be a fashion faux pas. However, I am a Dad, I have a daughter, and so I wear socks with sandals, especially in the company of her friends. Sometimes I wear black athletic socks with shorts. This is as necessary as the earth turning on its axis: Some things must simply be.

What about clogs? No, never. However, see above.

Can pants and shoes ever be worn without socks? Eww.

And who made up these rules anyway? Ha! Very droll. Who do you think? The rules were first articulated by the unnamed daughter of Adam and Eve, when she was fifteen years old, and Dad showed up at the family reunion cook-out in a homespun tunic (the fashion in those days), leather sandals (also cool), and black wool socks. (DAD!)

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