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Greg Wallace

Match game

On a recent Sunday morning, before going to church, my little daughter found me sitting at the corner of my bed, nervously glancing from side to side, mumbling, "… can't find a matcher … can't find a matcher …" over, and over again, oblivious to the fact that she was even in the room with me. As she shook my forearm and asked me what was wrong, I looked deeply into her frightened blue eyes and said, "We have a sock situation."

Here's the deal. I grew up in an old farmhouse with an unheated upstairs. Because of this, socks have always been important to me. Not only for warmth and comfort but also for that added peace-of-mind in knowing that if the house catches fire during the night, my feet won't get cold while standing in the dewy grass.

We are kindred spirits, my socks and me. We go everywhere together. "Why be barefoot when you can wear a pair of socks?" has always been my motto. When I'm old, I plan on being that guy at Disneyland holding his wife's purse while wearing sandals and white knee-high socks. Hopefully I'll be wearing other stuff too, but as long as I have the socks, I'll be good.

As much as I love the act of wearing socks, early on in our marriage, my wife and I came to the conclusion that we both hate the task of folding socks. The whole process of sorting though the pile of hosiery to find "the matchers," as we like to refer to them, and then wadding them together to stick in a sock drawer, just seemed like a big waste of time. Time that could be better used to watch the hilarious exploits of Honey Boo Boo and her family. We both literally hate organizing and folding socks. In fact, on more than one occasion in my adult life, I have made the following statement: "If I am ever as rich as Michael Jordan, I would never wear the same pair of socks twice." It's good to have dreams.

So the system that we have adapted for the most part is one where all of the laundered socks are stored in a clothes basket in the bedroom and on the occasion that new socks are needed, the person requiring the footwear will sort through the pile until finding the "matchers." I usually yell "Bingo!" to alert other family members of my successes. It's a good system. Or at least it usually is. Until that fateful Sunday morning.

Over the years, myself and a group of Western European diplomats have developed a color-coded system, recognized by both NATO and the United Nations, to effectively assess my sock situation on a daily basis. For my own personal purposes, all color-coded designations are made courtesy of the fine folks at the Crayola Crayon corporation. Here they are:

Periwinkle Blue: This designates that all current footwear is almost relatively hole-free and more or less matches in color, size, elasticity and general appearance.

Dandelion Yellow: This indicates that I am experiencing a sock dilemma. Upon my first rummaging of the sock basket, no suitable matches have been discovered. I start to question myself that maybe my standards are just too darn high.

Mango Tango Orange: I am now beginning to experience the first effects of a full-on sock emergency. This means that I have exhausted the search of the basket and have gone to checking under the bed and/or couch for strays. This is now turning from a rescue mission into more of a recovery operation. Families might need to be notified.

Burnt Sienna: The situation has now escalated into a Category-One Sock Disaster. (You can tell the seriousness I am trying to convey by my usage of capital letters.) No matching socks have been found at this juncture, and prospects do not look promising. I have been known to actually check the "crisper" drawer in the refrigerator just to be thorough. At this point, generals gather in the White House situation room to retrieve the nuclear codes and get their keys ready in case of impending world-wide pandemonium. It's always good to be prepared.

Wild Watermelon Red: A complete and total sock catastrophe has just occurred. All sock-matching hope has been abandoned. Thankfully, this has never occurred. However, scientists planning for this eventuality have made comparisons to a meteor striking the earth and plunging us into another ice age. In other words, a total and complete obliteration of society as we know it. This might be why we don't have dinosaurs anymore. If this ever happens, I plan to climb back under the covers in my mismatched stockings, play that Aerosmith song and wait for the impending Armageddon.

Luckily, that Sunday morning, I was mercifully able to scrape together a pair that were somewhat similar in hue but woefully different in length and texture. Since we were running late for church, I decided that this was my best option, and I pulled the two strangers on to my feet and stuck them in my shoes. As I entered the sun-filled sanctuary, I don't know if anyone else could tell, but I was walking with a noticeable limp.

Until that moment, I never knew how good Michael Jordan has it.

You can contact Wallace at gwallace@bcrnews.com. You can follow him on his blog at http://gregwallaceink.blogspot.com.