Flaubert and Socks.


My deplorable mania for analysis exhausts me. I doubt everything, even my doubt.”

It started with these words, Gustave Flaubert’s words in his letter to Louise Colet. And spiraled from there. A middle aged man crippled with analysis, dragging his lame foot behind him as he trudges ahead.

I run the math. 10 years in this house. 365 days a year. Deduct 500 days for vacation, travel, walking the floors au naturel. Round it. We’re talking 3000 discrete events.  3000 discrete events.

And as I sit pecking this post out, I couldn’t tell you if the drawer handle is circular or square, platinum color or brass, a smooth or a rough finish.

But for 3000 events, mostly mornings, with a few afternoon and evenings sprinkled in, I open the drawer, peer in, and stare at my socks. The first big decision of the day.

Color? Must match the pants. And because socks are put on first (Why? Just because) the decision is momentous – the first domino tripping the shirt, suit, tie and shoe selection. Like an algorithmic equation forced on a poet, I’m paralyzed by the complexity. A lab rat for Barry Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice.

All flashy colors have been purged (can’t stand out, Canadian, must blend in).  All argyles long ago discarded (in response to a slight from a colleague 23 years ago). Pattern? No stripes. Dots ok if subdued and humble.  And, like Henry Ford who offered his customer a car painted any color that he wanted so long as it was black – the choices are black and blue, the color of bruising from the enormity of the sock choice decisions.

Sock Type? Ankle-dress? Footies? Low-cut? Low-cut sport? Over-the-calf? Wool socks? Cotton? Polyester blend?

The drawer is overweight in over-the-calf selections (due to mocking from a successful senior colleague over 30 years ago after being exposed to my hairy legs. His 15 words, offered in less than one minute – cement a lifetime of habitual behavior).

I sigh, relief washes over me. This decision is a lock. It’s over-the-calf for 100% of the working days.  I lift the socks, black, patternless, cotton, over-the-calf, and I push the drawer closed.

I pull on the right foot first (Why? Just because. Right handed, keep the equilibrium in check) and then move to the left.

I pause, needing a short reprieve, before moving on to the rest of the wardrobe.

I glance down and over my paunch.

Over my underwear.

And stare at my socks:






  1. It’s all about the tie…..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Worrying about worrying, fretting about fretting – oh yeah, welcome to my world. But sock choices that are impacted from old comments which require energy to keep relevant? I’m with Susan – it’s all about the tie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You oughta try wearing pantyhose…..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ok, wait a minute, that didn’t come out right. I didn’t mean *you* ought to try wearing hose, I mean you ought to confront that struggle (if anyone does anymore). A real drag. Alright, Lori, just walk away…you’re only making it worse….

    Liked by 3 people

  5. i’m without socks and in pretty sandals from april 1- halloween whenever possible. i’m all about the freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s a lot of analysis for such a simple decision! One of my favorite all time scenes from a sitcom is from All In The Family. Meathead and Archie get into it over which order putting socks and shoes on should be. Archie: a sock and a sock and a shoe and a sour. Meathead: a sock and a shoe and a sock and a shoe (if there’s a fire and we have to evacuate into the snow, your feet will be soaked; with my method, I can hop around on one foot and stay dry!)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Someone needs to get a life … Or a dog 💛

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Odd creatures we are. :0) And always in our own ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Not to worry…rules about color compliance have all but been thrown out. Patterned socks in all colors are now the rule of the day. Brown shoes, brown suit? Dark suit, black shoes? Nope – choose your choice of trods. Brown and grey are actually the new in. And as for ties – toss ’em. Now suits with open collars. Check out The Prez has he steps off Air Force One. C-suite has gone street… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Love the colors!!


  11. freddiegeorgia says:

    If you only own black socks of the same nature…you never need to match or choose. Then all you have to remember is Gary Larson’s old cartoon…’First Pants…Then Your Shoes’

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Did I really just read this more than once?
    I did, I did!

    Now, if I can only write a piece with a fraction of your wit about socks in the laundry, matching the pairs and folding them. Oh, then making sure each pair goes in the right drawer.

    Because, you know, Saints wear socks too.

    LOVED this, or I’m just weird!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Christie says:

    Love the post, Dave…perhaps you might consider a rebellion…a mutiny under the pant leg,
    A black dress sock with a contrasting colored band? Custom socks must exist…a subdued herringbone pattern with a personalized narrow upper band with the lettering small, with a tasteful font and coordinating color stating “DK Rules” 🙂 Shake it up. Continuing with my earlier inner rebel thought, NYC must have some fine haberdashery shops, which offer customization?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. at least you can find your socks–the other day I wore a pink one and a lime green one!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. One word “UNIFORM” Wear that each day and it will solve a million decisions!! Or… you could go and live as a homeless person for a few weeks, get some perspective. Great writing Mr K 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The Corporate Knight assembles his battle armor. There’s such a weird pathos here–a sense of longing & restriction. How did those knights hold fast as they laced themselves into their personal prisons? How many longed for the freedom to take a deep breath as well as a splash of color on their shin guards?

    Liked by 1 person

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