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Friday, September 18, 2015

#PinkySox



I've had a thing for socks as long as I can remember. I first realized it was a real thing while I was reading Harriet the Spy when I was around twelve or thirteen, and she wrote about the boy with the purple socks, and that he said his mother had him wear them so she could always find him. My mother was less enthusiastic about my socks thing, and by high school I was going out of my way to irritate her with collections of tube sox (because they were so anti-girly and I was never allowed to play sports), purposely mismating cableknit knee sox (which horrified her, particularly when I refused to shave my legs), and even wearing sox with holes in them so that a toe or heel would prominently stick out (this was the last straw, she came from nice people). This extended one year into wearing sneakers until the bottoms flapped around as I walked. By then my mom and I weren't speaking much. You had no idea a sox rebellion could be such a big deal, did you?


I didn't realize at the time I read Harriet the Spy why the boy with the purple socks struck me, but I know now. You don't often run into a story that hints at one of the minor characters working around a problem with prosopagnosia in the family. I've never been able to see faces in a crowd, and I've always looked for other markers to find my people, their clothing du jour being a big one, although that turns out to be a bit tricky sometimes when I turn back from looking at something on a shelf and follow the wrong person around because they're wearing similar clothing and have a similar shape from behind. So purple socks made a lot of sense to me when I read that, while others probably found it eccentric and a weird thing to say.


Some  of the convos on the webs about prosopagnosia get pretty interesting. I scoured Google search for any correlation between prosopagnosia and Harriet the Spy to see if anyone else had caught that and came up empty, so maybe I'm the first to bring it up. Not sure the purple socks thing was intentionally written in as another broad hint to people who are 'different' in some way, since so many of the characters are pointedly different from the norm as an underlying layered theme (which is discussed quite a lot, actually), but apparently prosopagnosia got glossed over for everything else, including reasons why the book was banned from schools for awhile, although that page I just linked doesn't go into the deeper hints at alt sexual orientations among the children and adults around them possibly breaking public health laws via owning too many cats or handing restaurant food out the back door to poor people. Also, I'm suspicious that the woman who never got out of bed may have had someone killed to gain her financial status. I'd actually be a bit upset if someone took my child out on a date with them without telling me, like Harriet's parents were, but that rarely comes up as a reason for banning the book. "Harriet isn’t exactly a paragon of virtue." Well of course not, she's surrounded by people living double lives, duh. Also, as emotionally alienated as I felt from my own parents growing up, Harriet the Spy screams kid being dumped off on a nanny kind of family, and I think her rebellion is justified in every way.


That book impacted my life in a scary kind of way. I attended the lowest social status middle school (one of three) in an oil town just off the edge of a reservation, which I mention once in awhile, and by puberty the bloody gang wars were already hitting the hallways in between classes (a couple of kids had to go to hospital). My best friend used me as experiment bait one year to see what would happen (we were always setting off chain reactions that were never traced back to source), starting a slam book (like Harriet's) that she passed around her circle of friends, and aspienado me had no problem jotting honest assessments under the names at the tops of each page, covering pretty much all the kids in my grade. I know the next part was unintentional, but I was last seen writing in it on the bleachers at a football game, and my friend 'accidentally' left it behind, now being pretty filled up, and I spent about a month ducking away from a couple of gangs who would have beaten me to a bloody pulp if they'd caught me because they thought I was the one who had started the slam book. I doubt I was meant to become a target like that, but truthfully, I didn't mind because I glorify in outwitting the lesser minded, although I did take some interesting face to face threats during classes when the teachers weren't looking.


My sox thing morphed into a super sox thing during my retailing years (I supplied everyone I knew with employee discounted clearance), and a decade later pretty much flung myself off the sox cliff when the rest of the world finally caught up with the novelty mismating thing. I take my sox very seriously.


Other people do too, apparently.



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