Sunday, October 7, 2018

Of Socks Logos and Self-assurance

I bought socks today. Not an earth-shattering opening, I know. However, as usual, my quest did not go according to plan.

The thing is, I don’t buy socks in Britain very often. I tend to buy them in America, where I can buy a bale of them at a reasonable price—plain, thick, comfy, bog-standard socks, and lots of them. The last time I needed to do this was a few years ago. I brought them home, put them in my sock rotation and forgot about socks for several blissful years.

Unbeknownst to me, there was a huge flaw in my plan. When I installed the new socks, I retired all my old ones, and thereafter, conscientiously rotated them so they all got equal wear. (As you can see, I am rather meticulous about socks—or anything, really; some people might call it “Obsessive.”) This is a regimen that pleases me, and it has served me well over the years, until last week, when all my socks expired at the same time.

Consequently, over the past few days, I have thrown out almost all my socks. I still have a couple left, so it wasn’t an emergency, not until I realized we were going on holiday soon and I didn’t have enough socks to see me through.

And so, I went out to buy socks.

This would be so much easier for me if I could just shop somewhere else, like 1986. Sadly, I am stuck in the present and, although they have socks here, they are not as I know them. First of all, they come in packs of three, or four, or six. None of these numbers fit evenly into a week. I’d have to buy seven packages to come out with a number evenly divisible by the days of the week. Or are there days you aren’t supposed to wear socks? Tuesdays and Thursdays, perhaps?

I am certain I have seen, many years ago, packages of socks with the days of the week printed on them. That would surely have been a pack of seven. Or maybe I’m thinking of girls’ panties. (It wouldn’t have been mens’ underwear—they come in a 12-pack with the months of the year written on them.)

At any rate, buying a pack of seven, or a bale large enough where a week’s worth became irrelevant, was out of the question. Sort of.

There was a store that had socks in large quantities, of the right type, and in the desired color, but they had logos on them—obtrusive, gaudy logos. Never mind that no one would be able to see them, I’d know they were there, and I have a thing about being a walking billboard, especially when I have to pay for the privilege.

This isn’t an issue I generally have to grapple with when buying socks. Apparently, however, someone has discovered that, if you put a logo on socks, you can charge more for them, and while I don’t have a problem with this per se, I would at least like to be offered a choice. If I pay a little extra—beyond the extra you have already tacked on—can I have them without the friggin’ logo?

Apparently not.

In other stores, where socks came in smaller quantities, logos were still there in abundance. It was mystifying as well as frustrating. I put it down to the insecurity.

Back in the day (needless to say, we’re talking about MY day), if you wanted people to know you appreciated quality products, you could buy a garment—a Ralph Lauren polo shirt, for example—with a tiny, tasteful logo on the left breast. These days, you can get the same shirt with a hulking, huge logo, that screams “I paid more for this shirt than you spend on groceries in a month!”

Are we that insecure when it comes to ostentatious displays of affluence? Apparently so, for we now have the same sized logos on our socks.

I was about to despair when I happened into the dress-socks section, which is not a location I would normally find footwear appropriate to my current lifestyle. However, I happened to glance at a pack of socks that were nearly the right color, and nearly the desired thickness. Additionally, and unavoidably, they had a logo, but it was tasteful, something that didn’t broadcast low self-esteem. Still, I might have allowed these slight variations in scope to disqualify them, had it not been for one, crucial, selling point: they came in a pack of seven.

I bought them immediately, took them home and tossed them into my suitcase without even opening the package. Hopefully they’ll work out, or I’ll be spending the entire holiday barefoot.

Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about my underwear; I just changed into my October pair.