What's happened to all my socks?

Published 5:56 pm Monday, November 25, 2002

By By Lloyd Albritton
I have an idea for a great science fiction novel. OK, here's the plot (oh, I'm so excited!): Since World War II, space aliens have been plotting the takeover of earth by secretly programming our washing machines to eat all our socks (aliens, you see, were "programming" machines a long time before we got into programming here on earth). But why socks, you ask? Why not shorts and panties? Or handkerchiefs? Or T-Shirts? The answer is very simple once you think about it. You see, it is common knowledge that the most important item in every soldier's knapsack is his extra pair of dry socks. A fighting soldier must always take care of his feet. I learned this in the Marines and also from watching a lot of war movies. Take away the enemy's socks and they will have a serious problem. Their feet will get wet and they'll get Athlete's Foot and they'll get to where they can't walk.
We can only assume that alien armies know about this elementary rule of infantry combat because they have those big heads and they are smart and everything like that. Their plan, therefore, is to implant their programmed washing machines throughout earthly society and wait until all our socks are gone, and then attack!
But here's the kicker: aliens have only one leg and one foot, albeit with a big toe on each side. They don't walk like we do. They hop along. Because of this physical anomaly, their computer program was put in place with a kink in it from the very beginning. The program instructed our washing machines to eat only one sock because the program did not know that humans have two legs and two feet. For many years we earthlings did not see what was happening because we all wore white socks. When one sock disappeared, it did not matter to us. We just grabbed any two white pair of socks and went right on.
As time passed, earthings got into fashion, demanding their socks in many different colors and fabrics. This meant every batch of socks put into the washing machine would come out with only one sock of each pair intact. The matching sock was eaten per the alien computer program. Then, a certain alert earthling became suspicious as he was sorting his socks when he discovered twenty-seven different socks of different colors when he pulled them out of the dryer. The matching sock in each pair was missing. This patriot tried to bring the matter to the attention of the FBI task force on alien activities, but his idea seemed so crazy that he was put in a straight jacket and thrown into the looney bin, where he has been languishing since the Vietnam war.
Almost every man can be seen walking around these days with mismatched socks, and one would think somebody else would have put two and two together by now, but that's just the way men are. We don't care! We just throw on any two socks and away we go. We won't think about the seriousness of this alien plot until we're in the middle of combat and discover that we only have half as many socks in our knapsacks as we're supposed to have. Then it'll be too late. Then finally, the crazy guy who understands what's happening will escape and . . . Naw, this is a dumb idea for a novel. Forget I even brought it up, OK?
Still, there is this very real problem of cannibal washing machines eating socks. It's been happening to me for years and I can't figure it out. I once ended up with twenty-seven socks without a match and . . . OK, I confess. I was the actually the fellow who was going to be the hero in my new novel. I thought I had solved this problem for awhile by keeping a tray of safety pins on my dresser and every time I took my dirty socks off I would pin them together before throwing them into the clothes hamper. Not only did this ruin the elastic in all my socks, but when I pulled them out of the dryer and started to put them away, I noticed that the washing machine had switched them all around. Blue and black socks were pinned together and gray and brown sock were pinned together and my white socks were coming out with one ankle sock and one knee sock pinned together. Now go figure!
With all the problems going on in the world these days, I know this seems like a trite issue, but sometimes it's the little things that bring a nation to its knees. I'm was just glad to be back in the south where I could wear my loafers without socks, but then the other day I looked in my closet and all I could find was one tasseled loafer and one penny loafer. Now go figure!
Lloyd Albritton publishes a series of commentaries on the Internet entitled The Albritton Letters at www.Lloyd-Albritton.com. He can be contacted at LloydAlbritton@aol.com.

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