The OKCupid sock bag is where I put all the single socks until they find their loves. Every so often I empty it out and pair up the lucky ones. I do voices for them. They are so happy. They’re going to be together forever this time. They’re never going to end up in the OKCupid sock bag again.
Sometimes a single sock has been in the OKCupid sock bag for a long time. Its soulsock got sucked into the bedroom vortex responsible for the disappearance of hair bobbins, guitar picks, single stud earrings, left gloves, spare keys, tweezers, scissors, and the insurance cheque for my dental fees. Unlike when it lived in the sock drawer, the missing sock has a whole array of diverse new friends. But it’s not coming back.
I don’t throw the single socks away. They’re still good socks. I try to match them up with other singles that are not exactly right, but work as a pair all the same. I do different, slightly less excited voices when these socks decide to spend their lifecycles together.
“Hey there, nice blue toes.”
“Thanks – I like your blue stripes.”
“You don’t meet a lot of socks with blue bits in the OKCupid sock bag.”
“Yeah. It’s mostly block colour socks – white ones, black ones – they can be so samey and boring.”
“Or else those crazy patterned socks.”
“Oh my Shoe, tell me about it. I met a crazy sock here a few months ago, and I guess I thought, why not give it a go: we were about the same size, we both liked long walks. And it was okay if we were having a chilled night in, but anytime we went out in public I was embarrassed. They were so loud! But still, I stuck with them, just to have someone to go places with, you know? Until – well, I hope this isn’t TMI for a first date – but the tucking got really weird. I mean, sometimes two socks just aren’t tucking compatible – different lengths, different thicknesses, whatever – but this shit was out there. They were one of those reversible socks, and they kept pressuring me to try it, and I’m sorry, but I don’t want to tuck inside out, okay? You call it reversible, I call it inside out. You’re laughing at me!”
“Ha ha ha! No, no, I get it, I don’t want my seams hanging out when I’m tucked either.”
“I think everyone in the OKCupid sock bag has been on a few crazy dates. Too long here, and you can start to romanticize the past – forget about all the holes in the relationship. It’s probably not healthy, but…”
“What happened with you and your ex? If it’s okay to ask.”
“No, it’s fine. They stopped coming back at night. I’d be waiting in the laundry basket and they wouldn’t come home. Finally, they’d arrive, a little dusty, a little stinky, and I’d shout up through the layers of laundry: “where were you?” They’d say, “oh, I was under the bed, I got left in a shoe…” We were growing apart, but I didn’t want to see that. Eventually, they stayed out so long that they ended up in a different wash cycle. I was mad with worry. But when they came back, I took them back, even though they were really cagey about where they’d been. They kept talking about all these cool new friends they’d made that they wouldn’t introduce me to – bobby pins, cappos – then one day, they were gone. I don’t know where.”
“That sounds really difficult.”
“It was. But I’m doing good now.”
“The hardest thing is when you think you’ve found your sock, but that sock doesn’t feel the same, you know?”
“Exactly. And it’s all the things you never got to ask. What are they feeling? What are they thinking?”
“It can be impossible to get them out of your thread.”
“Yeah. [Pause] Hey, blue toes, I’m having a great time. I feel like I can talk to you.”
“Me too. You’re different from the socks I usually date. But maybe that’s no bad thing, at our age.”
“Our age? Come on – what age are you? 5?”
“I am 7 years old.”
“No! What fabric softener are you using?”
“Ha ha! Thank you – you’re an excellent liar. What age are you?”
“You look like you’re 6.”
“I’m a pretty straightforward kind of sock.”
They consider each other shyly for a moment, then gently fold together. They look a little funny, but they’re gonna be okay. (Unless that ex comes back to town.)
Some of the socks are poly. They have a number of socks they routinely partner with. They have different conversations still.
“Hey! Are you new here?”
“Sort of. I need to be upfront about something. I have a sock to whom I’m committed, but we both date other socks.”
“Oh you’re poly! That’s so great. Me too.”
“Really? Phew. It can be so hard telling socks.”
“For sure – folks can be judgey. So tell me a little about your partner. Do you consider them a primary?”
“In theory, I don’t love the hierarchical implications of the language of primaries and secondaries, but in practice we need ways to talk about the ways different relationships are situated in our cycles. Diagonal print black sock and I are central to each other’s fabric. We tuck together most wash cycles. So, yes, we’re primaries, if we’re using that language, but it doesn’t mean that our other relationships aren’t important to us.”
“I’m so happy to hear that you’re questioning the ways in which poly structures can end up enforcing new modes of emotional orthodoxy, even while they liberate us from others. That’s something I struggle with too, perhaps particularly as a femme sock.”
“Nice bow, by the way.”
“Thanks – you’ve got some femme to you too – especially your texture. Do you identify that way?”
“No, but it’s really fascinating that that’s what you see. I mean, masculine, feminine, what does that mean anyway? We’re all just socks.”
“For sure. Why is my bow feminine? It’s a social construct.”
“That said, I do tend to find myself more attracted to feminine socks – though I’m capable of questioning the ways in which I’ve been fabric conditioned into those preferences.”
“I’m bisocktual myself.”
“That’s cool. So is diagonal print black sock, actually.”
“Something I’ve been thinking about lately is the shitty ways that some poly socks treat socks they perceive as feminine. Like this one skanky white sock I went on a few dates with. I told them from the beginning that I was poly, and they said they were too. And we were getting to know each other, having a decent time, but the first time we tucked together, they were acting super suspicious – trying to hide in a corner of the sock drawer. And the next thing, I hear whispering. It’s a pair of regular whites. Later, in the laundry basket, they confront me, tell me they think it’s terrible what I’m doing to a solid couple like the medium whiteys. And I don’t know what they’re talking about at first, then I don’t want to believe it, because my whitey seemed so genuine. I get back to the OKCupid sock bag, and I see this other medium whitey there – crying, totally coming apart at the seams – and the whole thing starts to unravel. In a few days, my whitey turns up, and I am so mad. I say: “you told me you were poly!” And you’ll never guess what they said.”
“I am poly, baby. 50% polyester.”
“That is unbelievable. I’m sorry that happened to you”
“So, do you have any nice partners at the moment?”
“I do! I’m a solo poly sock mostly. I love being singlish. I rarely feel the need to go to the sock drawer with someone, but I love companionship. That’s one of the great things about poly – you can go for a run with a sporty, pair up with a wooly for a winter walk, dance with a funky.”
“Speaking of stepping out, would you be up for layering over some tights with me in a dementedly mismatched fashion and going to the supermarket?”
“Are you kidding? I love looking demented in the supermarket. That’s one of my favourite things to do. And I haven’t gotten to do it since that weird five week long wash cycle earlier this year.”
“Yeah, what was with that?”
“Cycle change, I guess – weekly washes just use too much energy.”
“Maybe – ha ha” (Bow sock doesn’t know yet that silky navy sock is a cycle change denier. That’s gonna be a fun conversation.)
“Do you need to check in with your primary first?”
“Naw – diagonal print black sock and I can go out with others as much as we like. We only need a conversation if there’s tucking involved.”
“Good to know! Let’s go.”
So they slip into some sneakers and toddle off to the shops together, chatting happily, not caring that every other pair of socks they meet is judging them and their cyclestyle, maybe because matching socks feel threatened by the challenge poly socks pose to the system, or maybe because the poly socks are nuts.
The OKCupid sock bag is a place where anything can happen. Crazy things! Layering up in threesomes for some freaky double cotton on sturdy thermal action, oh yeah baby. Terrible things! There are some bad socks in there and no mistake. Socks made by child labour. Socks that left their last partner in the woods to be shredded by squirrels for nesting materials.
But the blue bits seem happy. And bow sock and silky navy are developing an emotionally intelligent conscious interweaving that supports their activism within their chosen families or something. It’s easy to be cynical, but look around: love is always afoot.