By Patricia Baer
The movie “Heartburn” has a scene in it where the characters are sitting around talking about lost socks. One character theorizes that, “When you die, they hand you this big box full of all your missing socks, and you have to spend the rest of eternity sorting through them.”
I remembered this scene the other day when one of mine mysteriously made an escape from its laundering. Now that I have exclusive access to a washer and dryer, I thought my days of losing clothing were over. Even if something got left behind, it would be found with the next load. However, twice now I have experienced the vanishing sock phenomenon. I am starting to question whether my dryer is the Bermuda Triangle of woven foot coverings.
It is a result of my casualness, I think. When living in an apartment, I was more obsessive about what passed through the communal laundry room. Every week there was at least one lone piece of clothing sitting on the side counter, looking dejected like the last kid waiting to be picked up after school. I did not want that to be my kid.
One time I discovered I had brought home someone else’s sock. Seeing this unfamiliar item sitting at the bottom of my basket was like opening the door and finding a stranger sitting in the living room. In my mind I started interrogating it as if I was an overprotective parent. Who are you? How did you get in here? Have you been with my clothes this entire time? The cotton Casanova was immediately brought down to the side counter to face its walk of shame until claimed by an owner.
Assuming you do not have a creepy neighbor quietly building a candlelit alter to worship your foot, with on-site facilities at least there is the possibility of retrieving any items lost. It is a little less so when you have to take your wardrobe out to a laundromat. During grad school I rented a duplex unit because it offered the “romantic” opportunity to take my clothes out each week by not having any machines on-site.
After six months of lugging a waist-high sack of dirty laundry through lake effect snowfalls, I was ready to move to the conventional rental complex with its in-unit, stackable washer-dryer combo I had previously declined.
I never did experience that meet cute moment several rom-coms assured me would happen either. At the same time, I never lost any of my clothing. I think it was out of dread I would have to return to the site and whatever drama was inevitably occurring that night.
Those days are over now, thankfully, and I still have hopes of reuniting my broken pairs with their mates. Maybe the two are off having a grand adventure together somewhere.