Street Socks

My neighborhood is fairly nice. I have fairly responsible neighbors who take fairly good care of their yards and houses. Even living off a fairly busy road, litter is an uncommon occurrence, and something I don’t often see.

That is why I was surprised to see a pair of brown dress socks lying in the street.

When I do see litter, it is generally of the paper variety, such as a label or packaging material that may have drifted from someone’s recycle bin. Occasionally I’ll see a wrapper or styrofoam cup likely tossed from the window of a car driven by a careless snack eater or left behind after a neighbor’s landscaper finished his lunch. I’ve never seen litter of such, dare I say, upscale quality.

The socks appeared as if they had just fallen from a partially open suitcase or directly from a Brooks Brothers catalog. The two articles were safety pinned together, suggesting they were not new, but well taken care of, owned my a gentleman who was meticulous about keeping his foot hosiery paired up. I wondered: why was he less meticulous about keeping the socks in his possession?

I first spied the street socks on Thursday evening as my wife and I walked our dogs. Three dog walks later – Friday evening, Saturday morning, Saturday evening – the socks had not moved. Each day we passed the footwear twice: once outbound, once on the return home.

Sunday morning we passed them again. “Why won’t anyone pick them up?” I wondered aloud. “Does the owner not realize, or perhaps even not care his stockings are missing?” I pondered the history of the socks and how they came to be at their location: mistakenly dropped, tossed on the street by a bickering wife, perhaps even planted as a psychological experiment. I devised scenarios for the entire walk, until we came upon them during the return trip.

I looked around to see if anyone was watching. No one. I picked them up. I stuffed them in my back pocket.

“You’re not wearing them,” my wife proclaimed.

“I’m not wearing them, but someone needs to clean up,” I responded, knowing full well I needed to wear them. I felt as though I earned them.

Once at home, I convinced my wife through a series of calculated steps – I could always use them as rags, I could use them in artwork, I could at least donate them, if they are good enough to donate, they are good enough to wear – that wearing them was a valid option. I assured her I would experience no Twilight Zone anomalies such as adopting the personality or mannerisms of the previous owner. She relented, albeit only if I soaked the street socks in hot soapy water and laundered them twice and not in the same load as any of her clothes. She told me to trash them at the first sign of any bad luck being attached to them. I informed her they were just as likely to be harbingers of good fortune, and could very well become my first pair of lucky socks.

I’m wearing the street socks today. They feel good. They are not giving me a rash. I sense no impending misfortune. However, I do feel the impulse, almost a craving, to stop at Brooks Brothers and purchase a complimentary pair of shoes. And a shirt. Maybe a new suit as well.