Once upon a time…
10:48 PM signalled it was almost closing time at the coin laundry in downtown Soho. Stale odours of fabric softener and detergent hung in the air. Minnie, the laundry attendant, wiped the exterior of every washer and removed the lint from every dryer. Horror struck when Minnie reached for the unfolded wire hanger. She scraped the floor under the machines running the long metal hanger along the bottom edge in an effort to drag out any dirt or “lost” clothing.
‘But we weren’t lost!’ determined Anklet from her vantage point. ‘We know why we ran. But the tall ones never accept sock-loss. Tall ones say dust-to-dust. Our equivalent is lint-to-lint, and our biggest fear is not being unpaired, it’s a hole. Though the tall ones need us, they misunderstand us. Mostly, they just stand on us.’
Minnie set the alarm and locked the door behind her. For a moment there was silence.
“Arg! Argyle come out from under that dryer,” demanded Anklet.
“N-No, I can’t,” Argyle replied, his voice trembling with fear.
“Why not? Do you have cold feet?” Roars of laughter echoed around the room. “Come on Arg, I’m putting my foot down. It’s after closing time, and you know what that means: Time to kick up our heels!”
“Th-the hanger, it got me Ank. I … I’ve got a hole,” Argyle whispered.
Anklet gasped, understanding his pain only too well. The hanger incident of October 2020 resulted in the loss of half her lace trim. She would forever be disfigured.
“Show me,” she pleaded.
Argyle poked out his heel revealing a dimple of a gap with a long ravel thread right at the ankle. Her eyes widened. Anklet knew the loosened thread meant Arg would unravel but she couldn’t tell her friend that. He had been there the day they ripped the hanging lace from her seam. Argyle held his toe line on hers the whole time.
Frantically, Anklet glanced around the Coin Laundry. A multitude of sports socks were racing in the laundry carts. Loud colourful socks wagered with lint balls on which team would win the race. A flash of the neon sign in the window revealed others dancing on and under the table. Hawaiian-Pineapple sock cranked out the tunes from a speaker on the shelf. The knee socks, Grey Knee, White Knee, Black Knee, and Forest (Forest didn’t think he was a knee sock) were inserting the pay-card and setting the washer to hot for the adults-only hot tub. The business socks and stockings were lining up ready for their soak.
“Quickly, Knee Socks! We need you!” Anklet shouted, knowing the knee socks were tall on knowledge. The foursome shimmied down the crack between the machines and jogged over to Argyle and Anklet. After examining the situation, they each gave their opinion. Only Forest had an idea that didn’t include making a bucket list, so they went with it. No one wanted to see Arg unravelled, swept up, and placed in the great green garbage bin in the corner.
Many offered to donate their tails – the extra string at the end of their toe lines. Weaving them in, they could tie a little knot. It might hold.
Bobby Sock had the longest tail. They turned him inside out, and the sports socks climbed the desk to the scissors near the register. The smooth business socks were able to drag the scissors nearby. Manipulating the scissors with the necessary precision to keep Bobby alive proved much too tricky. They abandoned the idea.
“It’s okay, I’m prepared… Lint to lint” resigned Argyle.
“No!” Anklet cried. “This is sole destroying! I’ll be darned if I will let this happen.” She ordered everyone to the desk. The sports socks held the hosiery taut. Ank and Arg launched onto the sock-made trampoline, bounced into the air, and landed on the desk. Anklet turned Argyle inside out and gathered the unravelling-thread. She pinched it along a seam she created, pulling the hole together to secure it.
“Argyle, do you remember the day you came here, and I told you that if you wanted to be an individual, you’d have to leave the pair and run with me?” Arg nodded still pale with fear. “Well, that worked out well, right? A good step. And this will be too, I promise,” She put her toe line on his and gazed intently into him, eyes sparkling. Then she signalled. The Heavy-Duty Work Socks muscled their way up to the top of the stapler.
Ank whispered how brave Arg was and how proud she was of him as she lined him up a final time along the guideline of giant metal punch holes. Her eyes always returned to Arg’s. He was comforted by her warm smile.
The four work socks jumped onto the business end of the stapler. After four jumps and four screams from Ank and Arg, the hole was closed and the ravel thread secured. The whole laundromat echoed in gladness. Anklet proceeded to turn Argyle right side out.
“Thank you Anklet,” said Arg with watery eyes. “I don’t know what I’d do without you. You understood that I didn’t want to be the same as someone else. That a matched sock wasn’t me. You helped me to freedom. Accepted me for me. Given our differences, others might find us an odd pair, but I think we’re an amazing match!”
“You colour my world and safeguard me too,” Anklet smiled as her lace fluttered. “We are unmatched; in shape, colour, and also in our love for each another,” Anklet whispered.
Indeed, Argyle and Anklet’s friendship was unmatched. Arg held Ank’s toe line, leaned in, and kissed her as her lace ruffled. The crowd’s cheer echoed.
“Unmatched and unique,” Forest said. “Odd socks for the win!”
Later under the neon light dancing to “Everybody’s free (to feel good)” and “If Everybody Looked the Same,” everyone shielded their eyes from the blinding staple glare off one happy Argyle sock.
“We were quite different, but we belonged together, we were more than the sum of our two selves, we were allies, we made our own community, and that is rare in life.”
― Sándor Márai
Moral of the Story:
It’s never the differences between people that surprise us. It’s the things that, against all odds, we have in common. The qualities that separate us are often ridiculed or criticised by others. Because of these judgments, we begin to see our strengths as disabilities and try to work around them in order to fit in. But anything that is peculiar to our makeup is precisely what we must pay the deepest attention to and lean on in our rise to mastery. A fruit salad is delicious precisely because each fruit maintains its own flavour. The minute you find out what makes you different, the moment you love it and accept it and say you wouldn’t change who you are, is the moment you step into your power and experience true freedom. Whatever is different about you is what makes you amazing. Others will try to homogenise you for their own comfort level. Do not bend yourself to make others feel taller. Both the challenge and the spice of relationships is found in people’s differences. Occasional frustration is the price of admission.
“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”
– Coco Chanel
Affirmation: I see our differences as reasons to celebrate!
I am a marvel. I am unique. In all time that has ever been, there has never been another me. It is my difference that sets me apart. I see not fitting in as my superpower. By being myself, I put something wonderful in the world that was not there before. I know the greatest unity comes from the greatest differences which are brought together in relationships. I see our differences as opportunities to discover new ways of working together. I accept and embrace my uniqueness and realise that my different idea may be the one that changes the world. I see strength in our diversity and find the learning opportunity in every situation. My originality and authenticity makes me stand out in a world full of conformity. I know that we don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonise. The same is true with people.
“Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.”
― Mahatma Gandhi