As some readers know, I recently lost one of my seven pairs of socks to the ravages of time and athletic activity. I have opted to forego buying a replacement as I feel that I can, in theory at least, survive on only six pairs of socks. Some readers helpfully suggested that I darn the pair with a hole, and I have given very serious consideration to doing so. Ultimately, I decided to simply toss the old socks into the trash and not attempt to darn them, but I do feel that at least some sort of explanation is in order for my seemingly wasteful decision.
First, the area around the hole was very threadbare, like a spiderweb. I think if I sewed, the whole thing would just bunch up and be uncomfortably irritating.
But the second, and larger, issue is that I have had some bad experiences with activities that are similar (in at least certain respects) to sock darning. Years ago, I frequented a particular bar in lower Manhattan called "The Liquor Store Bar". The Liquor Store got its name because it used to be a liquor store, and "Liquor Store" was what the neon sign said. Now it is a J Crew boutique.
The bartender at the Liquor Store was a 6 foot 5, red faced Irishman named Shamus (which I assume I am spelling incorrectly). We got along well enough, but Shamus could be prickly after he'd had a few drinks, and the rumor was that he could deliver a perfidious right hook. I was happy to not test that rumor.
I needed to quit smoking, and my brilliant idea was to take up knitting. It would give me something to do with my hands, and make a nice clicky clicky sound with the needles. I started with a scarf as my first project, and it was slow going. Slow going enough, in fact, that I figured the best way to pass the time would be to chase the scarf down with a pint or two, so off I went to the Liquor Store, knitting in hand. It was smokey and loud as ever, I sat at the bar, ordered my drink, and then took out the knitting and went at it. Clicky clicky clicky... sip.... clicky clicky clicky... sip.
The hush that fell across the room was both immediate and palpable. Nobody said a word until Shamus, in his booming voice, asked "Oooot the foooook air eew doooon?"
In a little timid voice, I squeaked "uh.... knitting?"
Shamus started to shake his head as he rumbled the word "nooooo" (which sounded like "newwwwww"). Being a bit of a talker, my first impulse was to explain to Shamus that traditionally, it just so happens that Irish sailors all knew how to knit sweaters, and that it's actually a pretty manly, Irish sort of thing for a dude to knit. But I quickly reasoned that explaining Irish culture to a full blooded, six foot five Irish boxer who'd probably already guzzled more than a few beers already... maybe not so smart. So, I just stashed the knitting sheepishly under the bar, and quietly finished my drink. After that, I largely confined my knitting hobby to private evenings when I was at home.
Interestingly, though, some time later, I developed a super fab fashion concept. I decided to knit a bra out of cashmere yarn. I even developed a can't fail advertising pitch for the product: cashmere bras, entirely hand knit by Wall Street tax lawyers! Now, let me just say, every single woman I knew at the time was wildly enthusiastic about this idea and very anxious for me to knit one and market it on the upscale lingerie circuit. I did knit one, but sadly, the finished product looked like the entrails of a dead sock monkey that had been run over by a car. In the rain.
Underwhelming as the cashmere hand knit lawyer bra was, I just ended up carrying it around with me in my briefcase so I could show it off as a prototype. And yes, eventually I brought it into the Liquor Store Bar. There, despite my best efforts to keep it concealed under the table farthest away from the bar where Shamus was lumbering around, the muppet intestine lingerie item was spied from across the room by Shamus. I suspect the real reason why he came over to the table was because he was attracted to my two female friends who were sitting with me - they are why I brought the cashmere bra that was entirely hand knit by Wall Street tax lawyers into the bar in the first place. They loved it and were very vocal about how cool they thought it was. Interestingly enough, Shamus quickly became very supportive of the cashmere bra concept. Sorry for the pun. Anyhow, I'm sure you can appreciate how mixing a skimpy, hand knit cashmere bra with a burly, somewhat drunk Irish bartender with calloused knuckles and a distaste for knitting could have potentially had the same effect as mixing equal portions of matter and antimatter. To say that I dodged a bullet is the understatement of the decade. So, rather than tempt fate, I concluded my knitting career more or less on the spot.
Learning to do more with less is a fine financial strategy, but sometimes, history stands in the way of that 7th pair of socks that you think you probably don't even need.