Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Socks

Yesterday I mentioned my efforts each morning to match my clothes and ensure that my socks match each other, but not the rest of my clothes. Here, as the late Paul Harvey would have said, is the rest of the story...

One of little issues that makes my life interesting is that I have wacky color vision. Not wacky in the sense of "only sees black and white," but wacky in the sense of, well, wacky. In general, I have a real problem with telling similar colors apart, particularly in the absence of bright sunlight: black, navy blue, dark brown, dark green - forget it...they're all more or less black to me. Same with pastel shades: pale yellow, green, pink, light blue, light tan - they're all more or less white to me. If you would put any of these colors out by itself in bright light, I could probably tell you what it was. But put them all together and, well, I can come up with some interesting matches.

Okay, I told you that long-winded story so I could tell you this one...

When Agnes and I met, I was still in the Air Force. A military career is a pretty good deal for someone with defective color vision, because you wear the same clothes every day, and you always wear black socks. Voila! - no problem, ever, with matching colors!

Now, Agnes's mother enjoys knitting. And after Agnes and I had been together a while, Mama presented me one day with a box of beautiful, hand-made wool socks...black, of course, because that was pretty much all I could wear. And after that, about twice a year she would send me a new package of hand-made black wool socks. I never ran out.

Fast forward about 14 years...

When I retired from the Air Force, I discovered that one of my big problems was going to be making sure that my clothes always matched. I got into the habit of laying out the next day's work clothes the night before so that Agnes could make sure that shirt, tie, suit, and socks all matched.

Act II...enter Mama...

Agnes's mother now realizes that I am no longer limited to black socks, and that some variety is in order. And so it was that one day a package arrived in the mail. We opened the package and found many pairs of nice, new, hand-made socks...in some of the most bizarre color combinations you can imagine. There were bright blue socks with flashed of yellow and red. There were brown-and-yellow striped socks. There were socks with colors so bright they hurt your eyes.

I now had plenty of beautiful socks that didn't match anything else I owned.

Well, when life gives you lemons, the saying goes, make lemonade. I decided that as long as everything else matched, I could wear whatever socks I wanted, and if an observer didn't like it, well, too bad. My loud socks would become my lucky charm.

So now we come to this part of the story...

I had hammered away for months on a major project at work, and my customer decided it was time to have a "murder board" of distinguished graybeards (and bluehairs) to review it. We duly assembled a board of about ten retired General Officers and senior government civilians, and on the appointed day, they filed into the conference room to hear my presentation. For my part, I dressed in my best conservative gray suit with light blue shirt and power tie (all carefully vetted by Agnes)...and a pair of the most garish socks I owned. They were bright red, shot through with bolts of yellow, orange, and blue. People gawked at me on the bus. Mothers hid their children. Radical imams issued fatwas condemning my un-Islamic socks. I was ready.

I spent all morning making my presentation, answering the graybeards' questions, defending my analysis, and generally coming up smelling like the proverbial rose (cue the self-congratulatory back-slapping). At about noon we broke for lunch, which had been arranged in one of the private dining rooms in the Pentagon. As we walked down the hallway, the tall and distinguished general who was chairing the board turned to me and quietly said, "Bilbo, I've just got to ask you...where did you get those damned socks?"

I told him the story, he laughed, and his board endorsed my project.

So nowadays, I'm known for something. I'd rather it be for my wit, panache, and towering intellect, but if it's my socks, well, I'll take it. In fact, I've been at conferences where people I've met before may not remember my name, but remember that I'm "The Guy with the Socks."

Sock it to me, as it were.

Have a good day. Wear bright socks. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

7 comments:

Amanda said...

LOL! Good story! Now we know that you're a guy who probably doesn't mind getting socks for Christmas.

Bandit said...

Good story!

Bandit said...

A darn good yarn!

Leslie David said...

I like it, so when will I see some of these socks at the party?

Anonymous said...

I'm on to you man. Just a long, long setup to another groan-worthy pun!

Eminence Grise

Mike said...

So your night vision must not be 20/20, it must be 1/20. I'm suprised the army did have you on night sniper duty all your life.

Wv: essedle - I know we have a problem so essedle it.

John said...

sock it to me, baby!