“Whichever Socks*” Tanka 2283


(March 1, 2019)

whichever socks come

crawling pile’s top first gets feet

no more do i stuff

as a lad i was so taught

but now buy only the same

*(The routine of matching all the white cotton, the white wool and the colors and patters and then stuffing one sock into the other into a nice, neat ball, gave way past mom and past my Parris Island Drill Instructors long ago. I for a time matched up the socks by kind and condition and then decided to retire the argyles and others and keep only the whites – both wools and cottons and let them repose flat in the second dresser drawer after of course the necessaries. Necessary? When mom used to ask if I’d put on fresh whities so tighties I lied and went commando. Now, because I do answer the door most Saturdays and want not to shock some of a wonderful lady-friend’s co-denominationists, I have taken to briefs or boxers. Instead of the complicated tee-shirt folds so favored by mothers and DIs and salesmen everywhere I hang my tees, white, colored and patterened by weight and utility along a spare bathroom shower-curtain rod. The shorts stack atop the levis. The slacks huddle in forlorn masses in a closet with dress shirts and jackets and coats suitable for caskets. But my socks now come to me jumbled from either the dryer or the line – depending on clement’s desire – and I still do duty of matching lengths and condition of religious applicability. All socks left to me are indeed holy. Some more-so. Occasionally the socks jumble. No fault of mine own, I assure. They like the tangled web they weave and delight in my failures to turn all outside-in (or is it the other way?) and they do not struggle at all to remain matched to like-colored toe-here indicators. I grumble a lot of a morning’s work to appear before our shared world sane and shod with socks inside shoes. If possible. But sometimes a man’s just gotta know when he’s defeated. I already told you the story of my one-time Marine Corps public relations interview with a famous Lieutenant General at his Camp Smith, Oahu, Hawaii headquarters. When I crossed my right leg over my left knee, my woolen dress Winter green trousers came over my shoe and revealed my one argyle sock in wonderful cotton vice the mandated uniform black nylon piece of torture instead. General Krulak laughed – his son also got to be a 3-star but that was after my time – and hiked up his trou and displayed a pair of black cotton socks. “Beast” (so-named at Annapolis) Krulak smiled and suggested I make mine black cotton too. Gotta go for a good general like that, huh?)

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