All for one, one for all–that’s family

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Categorized as Grounds for Insanity column, Rhonda's Posts

09/29/14, Grounds for Insanity–It was a pair of socks. OK. So here, it’s always “a pair of socks.” Or rather, singles looking to be pairs. After years of laundering every type of white crew sock known to civilized man, I have nothing but questions.

Pete Seeger had questions, too. “Where have all the flowers gone?” he sang. In my opinion, this classic could use an update.

“Where have all the socks gone?” That’s the question I’d wrestle with in verse one. I’d follow that with insightful musical musings on other age-old quandaries, such as “How on the great, green earth can there be 4379 variations on a simple sock?” Then, “Should there be?” And, finally, “Why?” That’s a lot to cover in one hit song, but I’m willing to try.

But back to the pair that started the whole thing. I’d folded through a virtual mountain of clothes and was down, at last, to the socks. In the dwindling pile, I noted two dark brown stragglers. To the naked eye, they appeared to be identical. And yet, something…

Peering at them, I closed first one eye, then the other. I angled them into the natural light spilling in through a window, inspected them beneath the lamp. By cracky, if they weren’t two wavelengths the width of a hair apart on the color spectrum.

“Look,” I said to the known wearer of the pair. “These things are so close to matching, surely you can…”

A look of horror crossed his face. “No way,” he said, pointing a sturdy finger at the logo on each one. Which were located at the top by the band. Where no one could possibly see it. “They’re different colors.”

Sure enough. There, too, if one used a military-grade magnifying glass and a klieg light, a teeny, tiny color difference. Then where were the missing two? It was only 8 a.m., and my brain felt as though someone had lifted off the top of my head, stirred around with a slotted spoon, and forgot to put the top back on. Sighing, I checked the only other place I could think of (his drawer) to see if they were there. Nothing.

It was the next day while sorting laundry that I found them. There in the bottom of the basket were two crumpled socks about two narrow wavelengths apart on the spectrum. With logos that differed slightly in color when scrutinized with a klieg light.

I know, I know. A solemn, sober woman with the appropriate gravitas would not feel a need to point out the irony. She wouldn’t. She’d chuckle quietly to herself as she sorted the clothes and not mention it that night as he brushed his teeth. “Um, you know the discussion we had about those socks? While you were wearing the other two?”

I wish I were that serious, somber woman with oodles of gravitas. I do. But mine just—slips sometimes. Like Inspector Gadget when he was about three and hit a grumpy spot one day. “What happened?” I said, surprised. “You were so happy and cheerful this morning.”

“My happy heart keeps slipping off,” he growled. And that’s me. My gravitas keeps slipping off. Well, shoot. And phooey.

If it cracked a bit over the sock situation, it shattered completely when the infamous Crazy Hair Day incident occurred. If Mr. Schrock has a Mini Me in this one regard, it would be his oldest son. Neither of them likes standing out in a crowd. Neither of them likes the spotlight. That’s why matching socks matter, and public decorum and blending in.

It happened when College Grad was a fifth grader and his brother, Kid Kaboom, was in kindergarten. They’d decided to participate when Crazy Hair Day rolled around at the elementary school. And hence, there was great merriment in the lavatory that morning.

After much wetting of the hair beneath the bathtub faucet, liberal application of gel, and a great deal of meticulous arranging of follicles into abstract designs, I chucked them into Old Red. Pulling in to the drop-off spot, Mr. Prim, Proper and Socially Aware began to assess the hairstyles of his contemporaries. Then, with a note of concern in his voice, he said, “What day is it?”

I had scarcely answered his question when I heard a shouted, “Go! Go! Go!” from the back of the van where he’d dropped to the floor. We’d gotten the wrong day.

“What in the world?” It was the wondering, wide-eyed father of the kids with the crazy hair as we staggered through the door, mother laughing like a hyena, one son frantically restoring order to his ‘do, and the other one begging to leave it.

Oh, it’s a colorful world here at our house, even without the klieg lights. Some of us need our socks to match…exactly. Some of us like our hair crazy…and different. Some of us were born with hyenas that flare, and others were born with, well, gravitas.

In spite of our differences, it’s all for one and one for all. No matter what. And that’s our family.

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