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Age-Old Mystery

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The Mystery Of Those Disappearing Socks


By James Donahue

May 2005


Ever since I first started washing my own clothes as a young man I have been perplexed by the way socks have a way of disappearing in the laundry.


No matter how hard you try to keep them counted and paired off, one of the two matching colors has a way of mysteriously going missing during the course of either washing or drying a bundle of clothes.


I still put those single, unusable socks in my sock drawer, hoping its mate will show up in the next laundry. Sometimes they do. More often, they are never seen again. Socks just have a way of going away without any known explanation.


After years of marriage and often helping with the laundry, this phenomenon still goes on. It happens to me. It happens to my wife. I have talked to other laundry goers about the strange mystery of the missing socks and they confess that it happens to them too.


Sometimes I have found someone else’s missing sock in a drier or washing machine when I have gone to a public laundry. You often see that single sock hanging pinned to a bulletin board in the laundry. They are rarely claimed.


After years of thinking about it I found a way to solve this dilemma.. Now I buy all of my socks in one color . . . black. Even though they are mostly unmatched, that is, some are larger with reinforced toes and heels while others might be thin and stretchy, they all look about the same once they are on your feet. Thus I am able to continue using stray socks long after their mates have vanished. Just don’t look to closely at my socks and I am all set.


While socks have been my problem, my wife seems buggered by other things that disappear and then return to her. She, like most women, has numerous “tools” she uses for that constant grooming that goes on in that world known and understood only by women. Thus she is constantly looking for lost things like tweezers, eye shade pencils, fingernail files and the like.


She swears that her tweezers have gone missing moments after she puts them down. And she swears that the tweezers come back to her just as mysteriously as they disappear, sometimes a day or two later.


I used to think my wife was just forgetful, or careless in the way she handled her personal items. But after having similar things strangely wander off on me, like certain cassette recordings, jack knives, and keys, I have had second thoughts.


Most readers know by now that we have lived in a lot of haunted older homes over the years and are used to having ghosts around and about. In fact, we usually enjoy getting familiar with the spirits that share out domains.


The possibility of poltergeist activity seems to be a reasonable explanation. It was especially noticeable when we lived in a small bungalow in Sedona, Arizona, a few years ago. That place was haunted by the spirit of a young and mischievous boy who had been killed in a tractor accident on the property many years earlier.


I say this spirit was mischievous because he seemed to delight in hiding things about the house, and then returning them a few days later. It happened constantly to us as long as we lived there.


One day in particular, I was home alone, working on a book I was writing and listening to some music on my cassette player. I took a break in mid-morning and went out for a walk to admire the beautiful red rocks looming over the town. When I returned I sat down to continue my work. I clicked on the player but nothing happened. I found the cassette I had been using was missing. The machine was empty. I might have thought theft, except nothing else was disturbed and I locked the door when I was away.


A week later I found that cassette in a box of odds and ends, where it should not have been.


So perhaps I can blame ghostly activities for some of the missing things. But I doubt if every Laundromat and private laundry in the world is haunted. Some other force is going on there.

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