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Category: Humans

Sock News
I am told that a favorite conversational gambit during phone sex is to ask what your paramour is wearing. Personally, I have an unlisted number, but I can imagine that the answer (delivered in a warm, suggestive voice) involves some sort of lightweight underwear. Or a pair of highly impractical PJs. Or perhaps the odd hat.

One article of clothing that would likely never be mentioned, I’ll wager, are socks. Now, we are not talking about stockings here. Stockings are an entirely different matter. So, not garter belts or exotic, shimmering materials or transparency of any kind. One might think that socks, hanging out as they do around the pedal extremities’ erogenous zone, might have some of the hot magic rub off. But no. There is nothing remotely sexual about these humble foot snoods.

At least not to most folks. There are probably some sock fetishists out there who get steamed up over a pair of damp argyles, but those birds are surely rare. Let’s be clear: I am certainly not one.

This is not to say, however, that socks cannot spark joy. I own one pair in particular that still gives me pleasure after years (yes, years!) of use. Indeed, it is a sign of the strength of our relationship that I have blogged about them before, here.

That was over two years ago, and my attachment has only deepened since then. Now, each time I remove them from the washer, they are more diaphanous, more translucent, more vulnerable. That ragged delicacy only makes me cherish them more.

And yes, if you must know, I am wearing them right now.

IN OTHER NEWS: Today I consigned two socks to the dustbin. They were whole and fully serviceable, but both had resided in my sock drawer, unmatched, for months. So, finally, I officially called off the search for their lost partners. Sadly, there is never a possibility for proper closure in these situations. If the body of the missing sock is found, it simply rejoins its partner.

I assume that both were females. A male sock whose mate goes missing will often disappear within days. A widow, however, typically persists long after her partner is gone. I briefly considered joining the two to form a single pair, but immediately thought better of it. Such an act would not only disrespect both hose and their lost mates, it would subject me to ridicule should I be noticed wearing two differently colored socks.

Both of them had served well, but without much distinction. Even so, they were granted a moment of solemn silence before joining the used band aids and spent floss in my waste basket.

DRAWER UPDATE: I should confess here, for the record, that I am still supporting five pairs of socks that I never wear. In spite of their bad fit, or bad color, or bad personalities, I permit them to use up space and psychic energy. My only reason for keeping them is that they do have partners. I sense that this attitude constitutes some form of despicable clothing prejudice, but since I can’t think of what it is, I’ll just have to shrug and move on. My apologies to any garment that may have been offended.
Hurry Up and Wait
So I’m driving along today and moving steadily toward my destination across town. I’m in no hurry, but I am keeping up with traffic and going with the flow. The flow today, in my view, is not fast, but it’s fast enough.

Then I see a car in my rear view mirror. He is not going with the flow. He’s dodging in and out of lanes, seizing even the tiniest chances to lurch forward in the pack. As he goes by me, my suspicions are confirmed. He is a young man, possibly in his early 20s. He is intensely focussed on the road and filled with urgency — the urgency of youth.

Now, it’s possible that he is in the middle of a genuine emergency. Perhaps he’s rushing some life-saving medicine to his grandmother’s bedside. Or racing to stop his girlfriend from joining a convent. Or his winning lottery ticket is about to expire. I guess, though, that he is surging forward like that only because he is young. And he wants to get ahead of everyone. And thereby, in some way, to win. Win what, exactly, I am not sure. But I was there once myself, so I get it.

I am not quite ready to put myself in the category of “elderly gentleman” (much less “codger”), but I cannot say that I am a young man. I am certainly well past the age when roadway competitions against imaginary adversaries hold any meaning for me. As I have said, I was happy today simply to find the current in a river of traffic and ride it peacefully to my intended goal.

Even as I watch the young man move spasmodically forward, however, I am struck by the irony of this tableaux. The young man, who has all the time in the world, is in a desperate, though irrelevant hurry. Unless granny really is on the brink, there is no genuine need for him to rush. Whatever fractions of seconds he trims off his travel time will not be worth this expenditure of energy.

And I, the older man — someone who might arguably have a perfectly good reason to move as quickly as possible — am pleased just to be moving at all.

I do not begrudge him whatever victory he might claim over me and my fellow drivers. I may have once, but no more. Not that I don’t like winning, of course. And not that I wouldn’t mind having a little extra time to get where I’m going. But I’ll pass on all that intense urgency. That stuff is for the young, because they have the time to waste.
A Worry
Is anybody else worried about woodpeckers? Don’t they deserve better than a life spent bashing their heads against tree trunks? Blunt force trauma to the head, every day all day! It's insane...and yet it keeps on doing it! Of course I worry, but sadly, there isn't much I can do about it.
There in the Jungle
When I was as lad, my cousin Bob and I searched for adventure in the wildlands among the large, undeveloped tracts of land beyond his suburban Sacramento home. Those wilds are covered over with development now, but in those days, the life there consisted mostly of thatches of unkempt growth and of birds finding their lives among the criss-crossing levees and railroad tracks that cut through the otherwise empty wildness. There was also human life there…a small, squalid concentration of it. My cousin (who has always been more worldly than me) told me it was a “hobo jungle.”

I only glimpsed it once, in a Tom Sawyerish moment when we hunkered down just below the top of a levee and peered with wonder into this alternate reality. We couldn’t see much, just the smoke of campfires and dark forms moving about the encampment. What life might be like in that world was seen only in the unreal realm of our own imaginations.

The hobo jungles of today are not so mysterious. “Homeless camps” is the new term, and their world is now close enough to see clearly — at least if we look quickly enough as we speed by on the freeway. The Tom Sawyer flavor of my adventure is nowhere to be seen. That taste was also a product of our young imaginations. These are simply people, mostly down on their luck and mostly willing, even eager, to work.

My grandfather was a hobo for awhile, before he finally landed a solid job. He rode the rails all over the country, even to the Klondike gold rush in 1899. I know it was a tough life, though I don’t remember him talking about it. He worked wherever he could and slept wherever he could get away with it. He had no shame about that life, my father told me, but was always careful to distinguish between a “hobo” and a plain old “bum.”

That distinction is well-made today as well. There are, to my eye, plenty of hoboes among the homeless, people who are a good break or two away from grabbing hold of the bottom rung of the ladder. For now, though, they are rubbing elbows in the camps with other hoboes, and with bums, and with the mentally ill.

There may even be a few adventurers among them as well, people (men mostly, I would guess) who are curious to dive into a world free of any expectation or the need to obey. That was me, once. It was a real adventure, that is certain. I wanted the freedom at the time, and I wanted the uncertainty. So I hit the road with just a backpack and a vague destination. I slept in places I was not supposed to be, and miraculously I was never hassled by the law.

But I was no hobo. I knew I could return to my old life any time. I could simply hop a flight and end my experiment with disconnection. I was never seriously up against any of the real trials that the involuntary homeless face. There was no chance I would go hungry. I had some money and some friends along the way and people I could call to bail me out. There was some danger, but nothing I couldn’t escape by just moving on. No hobo has that kind of freedom. A bum does, but I suspect he will have an even harder time escaping his way of life.

Believe me, it is a hard existence, even if your time there was spent as a bit of a lark. I was relieved when it was over. I won’t be going back, not if I can help it. My grandfather and all the other hoboes in the jungle didn’t have that choice, nor do most of today’s homeless. They want out of the life that circumstance has dealt them.

There are no easy solutions to their predicament, but as long as they are there, it is our predicament too. Even if we catch only fleeting glimpses of them, they are here with us in the community. Right over there by the freeway, in the jungle.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon