My View: Katrina Hall puts a sock in it

A whole conversation about socks. That’s what just happened this morning at coffee. So, rather than Sex in the City and the weekly goings-on between glamorous, sexed-up New Yorkers, I am hereby delivering Socks in the City – my column about stuff that happens in downtown Melbourne after school drop-off.

Things I learnt this morning about socks are as follows:

There are lots of ways to fold socks. My friend’s partner folds his into a shape that makes them look like they are smiling. It’s a time-consuming yet ultimately positive approach, as opposed to my beloved’s method. He folds the top bit but leaves the ends loose, so there is still a bit of leverage and the opportunity for the sock to make a break for freedom should someone, rifling through a draw, unsettle the fold.

Another friend likes to fold his in half, because the rolled-up-ball method wrecks the elastic and he doesn’t want to pre-empt ankle-drapeage by wearing loose socks. All this could say something about the needs and drives of the folders, but probably doesn’t.

Most of us agreed, of course, that socks have lives of their own. Some live under trampolines, many behind washing machines and wardrobes, others disappear forever without trace, and yet others hang around in the back of drawers forever because no one has the patience, or the emotional fortitude, to sort out what is no longer useful and throw them out.

We also discovered that sock identification issues are rife in the suburbs, especially in households that involve adults and children of varying shapes and sizes. Which goes with which and whose is whose, it turns out, is a unifying issue and something we all found mind-bogglingly tricky.

But humans are a resourceful bunch. It is in our nature to invent ways of coping, even if just in the pursuit of domestic harmony. One friend assigns every member of the family with their individual sock colour, eliminating any room for arguments over ownership.

Another sorts them into pairs while wet, neatly pegging them on the line together – but she is a single-parent family of two, we said. Try doing that with four or more.

Another organises a weekly Sock Summit, where all the freshly laundered socks are emptied onto the lounge room floor for the whole family to pitch in and fold. Arguments about ownership are therefore sorted, just like a giant jigsaw puzzle of nylon and wool, right there on the spot.

Others prefer the sock-bucket approach, where there is central dwelling for all clean socks after they come off the line. When a situation calls for a fresh pair, children and adults alike are free to rifle through the bucket for pot luck.

The system has holes in it, however, and can often lead to Sockgate – early morning sock tantrums when two of a similar colour and texture and size cannot be found.

Many have long given up and just share. In those households, socks have become a communal item, like milk in the fridge. No one needs to question their genesis or lineage. They are universally owned.

For me, I found the fact that some people like to have their ankles covered a bit of a surprise because mine are often hot and so I prefer anklets.

Just saying, we are, as it turns out, all a bit different, even when it comes to socks.

So there you have it. Our big conversation about smalls. Steamy, wasn’t it. )