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A Valentine Tale of Socks

Anyone who has ever had any dealings with the military knows that everything is communicated in acronyms. Information is distributed on a NTK basis (need to know), your status is G2G (good to go), if you expound in response to a specific question you've provided TMI (too much information—sure wish I could have used that when I was in college.), all personnel are governed by SOP's (standard operating procedures), emails are addressed to ALCON (all concerned) and when your tour of duty is over you return CONUS (continental U.S.).

Every (and I do mean EVERY) human being who has ever walked this earth shares in common this one thing—we have all experienced the mystery of the SMS.

Well, there is one acronym you won't find in any SOP but it is the acronym of acronyms that actually unites all of humanity. Every (and I do mean EVERY) human being who has ever walked this earth shares in common this one thing—from my friend in East Timor who used to wash his clothes on rocks in a lake in Guatemala to Bill Gates in his brain-house that knows how many parts per million of oxygen is inhaled in each breath—we have all experienced the mystery of the SMS. The Single Missing Sock.

If I ever put a message in a bottle afloat on the sea it will ask, "Have you seen my other sock? I know it was here when I put it in the washer. If you have a single sock of your own, send it to this address and I will make a match." If ever I am an anthropologist I am going to devote my career to tracking down the first civilization to lose a sock in the wash. I'll bet money they found a mateless sock in King Tut's Tomb.


This 573 Magazine Story is sponsored by Hoods Discount Home Center in Farmington, Missouri.


A recent study shows that most Americans will lose an average of 1.3 socks each month (and more than 15 in a year), leaving them with numerous mismatches. With the average American living to 81, it equates to 1,264 lost socks each over a lifetime. In the U.S. alone there are more than 5.2 billion lost socks every year.

I don't know how it happens—I match my socks before I take them in my laundry bag to the drop-off point. A small man inventories my laundry and counts every pair of socks as an "item". My laundry gets washed in the same bag it was delivered in and I pick it up three days later. The bag never gets unzipped, the laundry never gets taken out and yet, in David Copperfield fashion, without fail, one of my socks disappears.

So today, I want to wish my mother a Happy Valentine's for not being able to keep my socks as pairs when I was a kid—she prepared me for one of life's great mysteries.



Happy Valentines Day!


Cira Duffe 573 Sockologist


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