Sunday, 8 November 2009

Where have all the good socks gone?

This peculiar "anomaly" you surely know - or know
of, at the very least: you put a pair of socks in the washing machine and only one sock reemerges. You go back and palpate the raspy entrails of the washing machine drum, as deftly as a gynecologist, to find the sock: nothing.
You look around the floor to see where the sock might have fallen out of the bundle of freshly washed clothes: nothing. You go back and search the washing/drying machine once more, this time taking care to look under and all around the machine. Nothing.
Then, months later, the sock reappears in the pantry or behind some remote radiator, in a place where you would never expect to find it - sometimes even in the same space where you keep your washing machine.

I must admit this has never happened to me, although I have seen it happen to other people (and certainly heard about it). What's more it seems to be an epidemic! (For details see the bottom of this post.)
And so, I have always thought this "phenomenon" must be simply the consequence of careless handling: it's very easy for a small thing like a sock to get stuck in some other piece of clothing or linen. Think about it: why socks, and why in the washing/drying machine? You don't hear about T-shirts or sheets disappearing in the gargantuan jaws of washing machines: it's always socks or, occasionally, some other
small clothing item. People are a notoriously inattentive species. Aren't they? Aren't we?

Well, yes.
But that doesn't explain the sudden disappearance - sometimes followed (a long time later) by the inexplicable reappearance - of all sorts of inanimate objects even at times when attention, or the lack thereof, clearly wasn't the issue.

I for one have long suspected there must be an itinerant black hole on the loose in my home, sometimes invading my handbags, like a stowaway, to displace itself around town.

I have seen a contact lens (several times; I'll be returning to them in some later post) fall to the floor and somehow disappear while in full view.

In the past ten years or so, several of my clothing items have disappeared from my home even though nobody had access to the space where they were kept, there was no robbery (and they were not valuable anyway, except sentimentally, to me), I have never lent my clothes to anyone, and I know for a fact, beyond any doubt, that I would not have parted with them voluntarily (i.e. I did not give or throw them away); nor am I afflicted by any type of temporary amnesia. Those clothes never left the apartment except on me - and yet they are gone.

What's more, this condition seems to be contagious.
About two years ago, I suddenly developed an intense craving for Barilla tortellini. So I went to a store and bought them.
I did buy a few other things, too, but the pasta was my main point of interest. At the checkout counter I put it in the shopping bag first, then the rest of the things I bought, before returning home to have a good plateful of tortellini.

The shopping bag had no tears or holes in it; I had no physical contact whatsoever with anyone during my short journey home, so nobody could have stolen them; the bag of tortellini could not have fallen out without my hearing it happen.

And yet, when I came home, the tortellini were nowhere to be found.
Two years later I still haven't found them.

(But then, pasta is notoriously misbehaved. For a supernatural adventure involving spaghetti see here.)

Another item I am still missing is an eyelash mascara, brand new. It disappeared on the day it was bought, from a little plastic bag that had no tears or holes through which the mascara could have slipped; furthermore, the little bag with the mascara was tucked within another, bigger bag. (It also would have made a noise if it fell out, and I heard none.)

A hypothetical mascara-loving pickpocket's intervention is out of the question, since s/he would have had to not only bump into me or make very close contact with me, but would have had to worm his or her grubby hand through a scatter of other objects that were also in the bag at the moment, all the way down to the bottom of the bag where the mascara was. But no other items were missing. And I had no close contact with anyone on my way home, anyway.

Taken from here.

But sometimes wayward objects do reappear. Such was the case with a pair of sunglasses my mother had bought for me years ago.

I use contact lenses, so my eyes are somewhat more sensitive to bright light than they would be in normal circumstances. Which is why I always use sunglasses in the summer and whenever there is bright light outside.

So I was understandably distraught when one summer's day a few years ago I could not find my sunglasses anywhere. (I had two other pairs of sunglasses, but the rims were not of the right colour for me to use them with the predominant colour of the clothes I was wearing that summer.)

At the time I used mostly one handbag, and while it was relatively big, I always found whatever I was looking for in a matter of seconds rather than minutes. Furthermore, I always put my glasses in the main compartment, so I never had to even look for them: I simply felt around the bag with my hand and retrieved them.
Until one day I could not find them anywhere.

I was sure I must have lost them, but could not figure out where.
The next time I visited my mum I told her about the sunglasses, and she looked for them around her home. She didn't find them.

I could have bought another pair, of course; but I was sentimentally attached to those sunglasses; and I hate shopping more than words can express. (Yes, you remember correctly: I am a woman. :)

Anyway, to make a long - three weeks long - story short, one day, as I was walking down the stairs in front of my mother's home, I opened my handbag to take out my wallet... and there were the sunglasses, their golden clasps shining in the sun. I went back and asked my mother had she found them and put them in my handbag. She was surprised - no, she didn't - and she laughed.

So did I.
What else could I have done?

And by the way, about a year later, it happened again - with the same pair of sunglasses. This time, they went missing for only a few days. And wherever they were, they must have decided they had a better time with me, because they returned on their own accord...

I am sure something similar has happened to many of you out there.
But I am also sure that many of such occurrences really are just a matter of inattentiveness. I am not posting these stories to encourage anyone to immediately jump to the conclusion that a dimensional anomaly or some paranormal activity must have taken place, if they can't find something that "should" have been where expected.
Remember: people can be remarkably absent-minded.

Also, if you are taking any pills, be aware that some can produce amnesia as a side effect. (The sleep-inducing substance called zolpidem, sold in the USA under the name of Ambien, is notorious for producing amnesia. People have been known to raid their fridges at night, or make midnight calls to people they would otherwise never dare calling - and most dangerously of all, to take extra doses of the medication - and not remember it the next day.)

In short, be sure to exclude all possible "logical" explanations before attributing any odd occurrence to something anomalous. And not just because it makes sense, but because not doing so diminishes the value of truly extra-ordinary experiences.

Anyway, here is a treat for all of you who are hoping to find a lost object: a few tips from one of our favourite writers on the subject, Cynthia Sue Larson:

But if your main concern are socks and their fate, here is a foundation that is working towards the welfare of all socks, big or small, black or white, old or new. I am sure they would appreciate your help.

If you want to report a missing sock - or any other type of perceived dimensional anomaly :-) - please do, but read this first. 


Anonymous said...

Haha, that has actually happened to me!!
And nope, havn't found them yet.
My mother always used to say it's the gremlins.

Man, you write well!!
Seriously, you should be writing movie dialogs or something.

Thanks. It's always fun reading you!

Myosotis said...

And it's always fun reading comments like this one - believe me... :)

How very kind of you!
(And on Christmas, to boot!)

People like you - whatever your name is - make it all worthwhile.


Kerry B. said...

Thanks for speaking up about Ambien. That sh** is nasty!! Last year I thoguth my house was haunted cos a heavy lamp kept falling off the nightstand. I never actually saw it fall, but every morning there it was on the floor. My sister cam and smudged the place LOL

Then I had a friend sleep over and lo behold, it was ME, I was knocking the lamp down in my sleep. and I never sleepwalked before.
I went off ambien and it stopped.

Great blog!

Myosotis said...

Thank YOU, Kerry, for stopping by and for sharing your experience.

Yes, Ambien (zolpidem is the name of the substance, for all those who don't live in the USA - should have said so in the post, and I think I'll edit it appropriately) is a terrifying drug.
Or it CAN be.
For some, it works really well, so who am I to say they shouldn't use it? But there really have been many, MANY cases when people did really freaky or even dangerous things while under its influence, and they remembered NOTHING the next day. And it's not just about calling people on the phone during the night or eating everything they could find in the house (this really happened to many people: individuals gaining weight without knowing how), but it also includes taking extra doses of Ambien itself - without knowing it...

So, again, thank YOU for pointing it out!

Myosotis said...

P.S. By the way, some think it's what happened to Heath Ledger: that he took extra doses of Ambien, without knowing it... until he took one too many. (: