The Great Sock Debacle

As a little girl, I used to love knee-high socks. I used to have them in every imaginable color. Now I don’t really know why I was so obsessed with knee-highs … perhaps it was because I had cold shins. I know that sounds weird but I can’t even begin to tell you how many pictures there are of me as a little girl – in the middle of summer, wearing breezy little dresses … yet still wearing wooly knee-highs.

One glorious fall season, my grandmother made me an adorable, forest green, corduroy jumper and I have to tell you, I was so excited to wear it to church for the first time! So excited that I set my clothes out the night before – carefully laying out my forest green jumper, my cream colored button-down shirt to wear underneath, my dark brown Mary Jane shoes … and my matching, forest green knee-high socks.

Except I couldn’t find my forest green socks.

And I HAD TO HAVE those forest green socks because they were key to the whole matching ensemble.

Turns out they were dirty … tossed away at the bottom of the laundry hamper.

So I decided to dig them out and wash them. I had no idea how you washed clothes but I had watched my mother do the laundry before so I assumed you just threw your clothes into the machine, pulled the little knob on top and voila! You miraculously had clean clothes a couple of hours later.

I had no idea you needed to put detergent in the washing machine OR that you had to remove your clothes – or in my case, a pair of socks – and put them into the dryer later on. I guess I thought they just magically transitioned from one machine to the next.

Imagine my surprise come Sunday morning when I rushed into the laundry room only to find my knee-high socks still soaking wet! And not exactly smelling that good either as I hadn’t put any detergent into the load.

But I HAD TO WEAR those forest green, knee-high socks!! I HAD TO!! They were key to the whole matching ensemble!!

So I decided to wear them anyway. And I guess this is as good a time as any to tell you that those Mary Jane shoes I had planned to wear … well, um … they were SUEDE.

And as I stretched those wet, forest green, knee-high socks on and sank my squishy feet into my brown suede, Mary Jane shoes only to immediately witness the darkening wet circle start to spread through both pairs … I briefly thought for a moment … “Maybe nobody will notice?”

But they did.

Everybody noticed.

Everybody in Bible Class kept asking me why my shoes and socks were so wet.

“Did you step in a big puddle?” they all questioned.

“Um, yes… yes I did,” I replied as I went squish-squish-squish down the church corridor, leaving little damp footprints in the hall.

It hadn’t rained in weeks.

Squish, squish, squish. Puddle, puddle, puddle.

Many decades later, I was visiting relatives in Tennessee when I ran into a woman that used to attend the same church where my father had once preached. I asked her if she remembered me. She paused for a moment, searching through her internal memory bank then suddenly declared, “Why yes! You’re the preacher’s daughter with the wet suede shoes!”

Yep.

That was me.

Did I also mention that particular Sunday was the day they were taking pictures for the church directory?

Yep. Me and my wet socks and suede shoes. Forever captured on film.

Squish. Squish. Squish.

The Looking Glass

Have you ever held an antique camera in your hand and thought about all the places that camera has been? Thought about all the pictures that camera has taken? What about a vintage book? Have you ever thumbed through its yellowed, dog-eared pages and thought about all the souls its passages have stirred?

I wonder. Antiques always make me wonder.

I have a vanity sitting beside my bed that I use as a nightstand. It was originally purchased by my paternal great-great grandmother as a gift to her daughter (my great-grandmother) when she got married. Then my great-grandmother handed it down to her daughter – my grandmother. Then my grandmother handed it down to her daughter – who is my aunt.

I  am named after my aunt and so now it resides beside my bed. I am the fifth generation to gaze into its mirror.

I know. That’s a lot of hand-me-downs. Bottom line: it is really REALLY OLD.

And I wonder. That antique mirror and vanity always makes me wonder.

I wonder what my paternal great-great grandmother was feeling the day she purchased it for her daughter who was about to get married. Was she joyful or was she anxious? And did my great-grandmother squeal with delight over the gift or did she reach for her handkerchief as she teared up?

And I wonder about my paternal grandmother after it was handed down to her. How many times she must have gazed into that mirror while my grandfather was storming the beaches of France during World War II, worried about his safety. Would he come back?

He did come back. Wounded. And he would never be the same.

And I wonder about my aunt, after whom I am named. Did she ever gaze into that mirror and wish for a daughter? Has she ever been disappointed in me – her namesake?

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. And it is such an other-worldly experience to gaze in to a mirror and know that your ancestors sat on that exact bench and stared into that exact mirror and that the reflection currently staring back at you used to be theirs. As I gaze at my own face, stare curiously into my own eyes, I imagine looking deeper … looking beyond … seeing into a past now forgotten … gazing into THEIR eyes and into THEIR souls.

And I swear … sometimes I catch a wink and a smile that does not come from me.

But then again, I am a Southerner.

And we Southerners are known to exaggerate.