The socks at school

Morning. Ugly morning. The socks were laying quietly in the sock drawer, some were still asleep. Then, the drawer opened, and suddenly, all the socks were wide awake. Who would the kid choose today?

Something was up. The socks could feel it. There was a tension, a feeling of subtle electricity, in the air that wasn’t usually present. It was going to be a nervous day, they could tell. And they knew what that meant – smelly feet!

The kid grabbed Fred and Barney. Everyone else sighed in relief.  They were two tough guys and wouldn’t mind getting dirty. They were whisked into the air by the hand of the young human, pulled onto feet, and were off to school.

Fred and Barney, on the feet of the kid, were grateful for the mesh covering the kid’s athletic shoes. They were going to be able to breathe a whole lot better than if they were in enclosed leather shoes.

At school, the socks could hear the kids talking as they walked down the hall.

“So, are you ready for the test?” one asked.

“Yeah, I guess so, “ answered ‘their’ kid.

“I totally studied last night,” said the first kid.

“My dad says these tests are stupid,” said the socks’ kid, whose name was Jack. “He says they are biased, whatever that means, and that the tests aren’t good for anyone except politicians.”

“Oh,” said the other kid. “Well, good luck anyway. My mom and dad said to do my best so that’s what I’m gonna do.”

“Okay,” said Jack, shrugging. Fred and Barney thought he was taking the test more seriously than he let on, though. Secretly, they wanted Jack to do well no matter what anyone thought of the tests.

After the flurry at the beginning of the test session, the whole school settled down. It was absolutely silent for at least an hour. Both Fred and Barney, each doing his job inside a shoe, was grateful for the calm. They knew from experience that it wouldn’t last.

Another hour passed, and then the test session was over.

“Yay!” yelled the kids. And they went out to recess.

It was starting to get hot outside as summer was approaching. The socks slid and slithered inside the shoes. Now they were working! It was hot and close inside the shoes, but some air was getting through the vents that the mesh made. The socks panted; Jack ran.

The bell rang at last. Jack slowed down, lined up with the other kids, and walked into the cool air of the school. He sat down at this desk, directions were given for the afternoon test section, and silence reigned in the classroom once again.

Fred and Barney cooled down. They were sweaty, but at least the air was moving inside the shoes. At least they wouldn’t stink too bad!

The afternoon wore on. Wow, thought Barney, this is sure a long test! I can’t believe they expect 11-year-olds to sit there and concentrate for so long!

Finally, the test was finished and collected, the bell rang, and the kids were freed from the constraints of the school day.

“So, how did you do?” asked Jack.

“Not great,” mumbled his neighbor, Don. “I had to go sit in the office until the test was over. I didn’t do it.”

“Why don’t you just do the work?” asked Jack, knowing how Don sat there in class and most of the time didn’t do much of anything.

“I dunno,” Don shrugged. He had no motivation. No one made him do anything at home, so why should he do anything at school?

Back at home, Jack played outside for a little while (his mom made him), then settled down to play video games. Soon it was dinnertime, then after watching one of the so-called reality shows (dumb, mostly not “reality” at all), it was bedtime. Before Jack went to bed, though, he always took a shower. Off came the socks!

“Whew!” exclaimed Fred as he landed in the hamper.

“Yeah,” said Barney. “It’s been a long day.”

“I’m glad it’s over,” said Fred. “At least tomorrow is wash day.”

“That’s lucky. I stink!” Barney complained.

So, the household settled into night mode, and in the sock drawer everyone nestled together and closed their eyes, wondering who would go out tomorrow.

Except one little sock. He was partner-less at the moment, and he knew it wouldn’t be him!

Dark rider

Tonight I walked through the neighborhood. I wanted to walk at dusk and be anonymous in the dark, listen to my iPod, volume turned up loud, in my own little world. It is the culture of the gym to which I belong: we leave each other alone to do our workouts, especially if we are wearing headphones. Everyone has an unspoken understanding that we each want to unwind in our own way, on our own time, listening to our own music.

In the neighborhood, though, sometimes one has to practice the art of avoidance. I was cold when I got home from work and forced myself to go walk, knowing I would feel worse (and lazy-er) if I did not. I pulled on some workout pants, then my black jacket liner, a black BMW jacket, and my black knit BMW hat. I even pulled the hood of the windbreaker over my head so anyone around could barely see my face. All that black might have had dire consequences if I had not also worn my neon yellow reflective safety vest. I walked quickly, but did not manage to avoid some of the neighbors. As I swerved to the other side of the road, I noticed the look I got from one couple. It was not very friendly. Maybe they thought I looked sort of grim reaper-like, and revulsion and fear filled their faces. Or maybe I looked like the motorcycle rider that I am, like somehow the blackness of heart and soul clung to the dark clothing I was wearing. I felt that, and I had a vague fleeting image of myself gathering a handful of reins, mounting up on a high black horse, and whirling away in a swirl of dust, the hooves of the horse throwing sparks from the metal of its shoes. I have ridden horses, and the juxtaposition of the two things, motorcycles and horses, merged into a fantastic imaginary story.

I calmed down and walked on, the music pounding so I could get energized and get going. It was a heady feeling of freedom, like I could do anything, almost as good as what I feel when I am on my mountain bike. When it was fully dark, I slowed down, finished my workout, and then I felt like dancing crazily to the loud and adult language-laced techno dance music I was listening to.

But … I made myself come back down to Earth, and went inside to cook dinner.

Dream of the huntress

A short Halloween story

I was standing in the town of Alpine at the little white wood convenience store with the gas pumps out front. I was wearing full riding gear, as I always do when I am on my bike – my favorite warm black jacket, pants, and warm boots. I was fueling up the big black dual sport bike, my BMW F650GS. I heard the crunching of tires on gravel, and an oversize four wheel drive pickup truck pulled up. The dried mud that served as its paint job was scratched from countless branches that had clawed its sides as it crawled through the underbrush. In the back were supplies for hunting and living rough, piled somewhat haphazardly, as if they had been packed quickly. Four stocky men climbed out. They were unshaven and dirty, and they smelled of dried leaves, and earth, and sweat.

“I’ll get the ice,” said one, walking away from the truck and toward the store. One of the other men put the nozzle of the gas pump into the tank of the truck. He finally looked up, saw me standing on the other side of the island. I gave him a knowing half-smile, the right edge of my mouth twisting upward.

“Date with Diana?” I said in a low voice. It was a rhetorical question.

“Huh?” he said. He seemed a little vacant, almost like he was half asleep. I pushed shut the gas filler cap on my bike and turned toward him.

“Out of the mist Diana comes,” I breathed. Seeing his puzzled look, I said, “Diana. The huntress.” The overcast, thick overhead, parted momentarily and light flooded down.

“You’re her,” he whispered as the wind kicked up. Suddenly my hair was free and swirling around my face. My hair was auburn-red. I looked down and I was wearing the black flowing dress that I’d imagined. Instead of the gas pump handle in my hand, I held a bow, and slung over my shoulder was a quiver filled with arrows. On my head was the moon crown. The man’s eyes widened and filled with awe. I was the call of the wild, the beating heart of the forest.

The sky turned purple, and I dissolved into countless ravens, their wings making that flrrrrrrrrrrrrr sound of many birds as they take off simultaneously. Somehow I was one of them, and I looked down into the fire-ravaged forest of claw-like blackened trees. My heart bled for the dead trees, it overflowed, spilling onto them, turning them golden.

Regaining semi-consciousness, my hands searched for my body, found my thin torso, hugging it as if confirming that I still humanly existed as I lay between the cool sheets of my bed. Buried in the blurry warmth between sleep and wakefulness, I dreamed again of Alpine, returned there in an instant as I felt the cold wind chill my face.

The magic of All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, can make anything can happen.

Order from chaos, a.k.a. re-organizing the sock drawer

The socks were piled in the drawer, tumbled over each other in a chaotic mess. Since there was so much wasted space between all of them, and they weren’t “spooned” into each other, space was tight. Everyone was uncomfortable, some squeezed against the bottom of the drawer above them.

“It’s all her fault!” cried Barbie.  She was talking about the girl who owned the socks. No sooner had she spoken when the drawer opened, and their human girl started pulling them all out and piling them on the bed. She tossed some into piles, and started organizing the ones that obviously went together.

“She must have heard me!” Barbie mumbled to Ken. Ken smiled to himself.

Soon, pairs that had not seen each other in months, lost in the depths of the disorganization, found each other once again. It was a pleasant, happy time.

Moving toward a more ordered existence:

Patiently, the human girl pawed through the soft sock bodies, her fingers gently finding and reuniting the pairs. After that was done, she placed them tenderly, and in a more organized way, in the sock drawer.

Soon, all the socks lay coupled together, organized and comfortable once again. If you listened closely, you could hear the socks, from the thin summer socks to the big fluffy warm winter socks, making little satisfied, comfortable noises. It sounded like a low purring emanating from the depths of the sock drawer.

Everyone was happy once again.

***

Star socks of the week:

Why are these the “star socks of the week” you ask? They worked great for me on Saturday. There is a story behind them, of course.

I found them last year at Goodwill to be used as sock puppets, but after I saw how soft and fluffy they were inside, I couldn’t bring myself to cut them up. So, I saved them, and on Saturday I put them on over my regular socks inside my motocross boots. My feet stayed warm all day, and since I was in temperatures of 40-50° F., it helped the rest of me to feel warm, too. That’s what makes them the “star socks of the week”!

Socks without partners

A glum sort of atmosphere always pervaded the single socks support group as they took their places in the circle. These were the socks without partners, and many partners had been lost to the mysterious whirling of the washing machine, never to be seen again. It was a phenomenon known even to humans, who were notoriously unaware of the fate of their socks, most of the time, that is.

A few more socks had been lost to humans’ pets, chewed on by dogs, or batted one too many times by cats.

There were the socks that were simply there because there was no one else left of their same kind. Maybe they were a brightly-colored fluorescent sock, or a fluffy sock, or a striped sock, or a sock with toes. Sometimes a similar sock would show up, but even so, they were not exactly alike.

Week after week, the socks shared their stories until they almost grew tired of each other and of being in the situation they were in.

There was another group of socks had been worn to the point that they were simply worn out by the job, careworn with fulfilling the purpose of life. These were the “holy” socks, the ones that all working socks hoped went to “a better place” and achieved a sainthood, of sorts.

Yet they all knew that in the reality of things, their present existence was all they had, this was life, and there wasn’t anything beyond it. These enlightened socks tried to do good things and make their time in the terrestrial sock drawer pleasant for themselves, other socks, and those whose feet they encased.

Eventually, the melancholia and desperation, the unending search for purpose of the single socks, would wear itself out, and all would finally discover the great truths of the universe: that they were there to help each other, and get along, that it doesn’t really matter what another sock looks like on the outside. All socks were made for the same purpose and it only matters what they were like in the deepest threads and yarns that made them up, and they all existed to make the best of the here and now because it is all any sock has.

And it is with this discovery that the socks at last found real hope. They were able to cope with their “oneness,” and sometimes even found peace in the companionship of another sock partner, no matter how different on the outside that sock seemed.

Maybe the humans could learn something from the lowly socks on their feet. After all, the fibers of their existence were not too different from the socks’.

 

How socks organize themselves

Tension in the sock drawer!

In the sock drawer things were a little tense. Not only did it seem super crowded late on this particular Saturday, the day the wash was done, but the pairs were uncharacteristically mis-joined.

“WTF!” said Syd. “How did we all get so jumbled?”

“I don’t know,” lamented Cherise. “Maybe the woman has her mind on the holidays or something. She usually doesn’t get us so mixed up.”

“Well, really, how is she supposed to know? I’m sure we all look alike to her!” said Syd.

“We’re never mixed up!” chorused Priscilla and Patty , giggling. True enough, no one looked like them, covered in lace and all.

“It mostly affects those of us who are in the common majority, either the black socks, or the white socks. We never get mixed up with the other group, but we do get mixed up with each other,” said Fred.

“Yes, this is one place where segregation is a good thing!” said Barney.

“Okay, let’s get this thing going,” said Ken.

“It’ll be fun! I love a good tumble!” said Barbie.

“Okay then,” said Ken. “Let’s try and do this in a somewhat organized way. It’ll be a clockwise flow, from top to bottom. When you find your partner, step out of the pattern,” said Ken in an authoritative way.

Everyone took up their positions, waiting for the signal. “Annnnndddd … Go!” shouted Ken.

The socks moved sluggishly at first. Everyone was jostling for position, but once it started moving, it was an orderly movement. If anyone had opened the drawer at that particular moment, looking at it from a human’s-eye view, the inside of the drawer would have looked like large insects moving within it, or maybe even a whirlpool of socks.

Rare shot of a leaping sock!

But quickly, the socks paired up with their rightful partners and the stream slowed. As the last socks folded into place, peace and orderliness reigned once again in the sock drawer.

“That was fun!” said Barbie. She was all about fun.

The sock drawer settled down, the fluff was out of the day. No one was jammed up against the bottom of the drawer above them, and everyone was in their rightful place.

Soon, all the socks were drowsy and lulled into their Saturday night calm, and all was well once again in the world of socks!