Tag Archives: socks

Kicking some really nasty habits

A few months ago, I told myself that I’d stop biting my fingernails. It’s been a bad habit for as far back as I can remember. There was definitely a good chunk of time, I’m talking like over a decade, where I never used a nail clipper. Never. I’d just always bite my nails off. I was actually pretty good at it. They weren’t jagged or anything, and I never got too close to the soft part, so nothing ever bled. But my teeth eventually started wearing down. And my jaw has this problem where it always wants to clench, and I’m getting TMJ. And so yeah, I put an end to the whole nail biting habit. I looked at myself in the mirror and I thought, that’s it Rob, no more. And yeah, aside from a few lapses where I’d pick up my bad habit almost unconsciously, I’ve been pretty good about it. But now my nails are always long. And when I’m sitting here typing, it feels like there’s something in between the keyboard and my fingers. And I keep telling myself, right after I’m done here, I’m going to find a nail clipper, and I’m going to do it. But I always forget. Or I can’t find the nail clipper. Still, I broke the habit, and that’s what’s important. It was tough, really tough, but I did it.


Quitting my nail biting was actually pretty empowering. I thought, if I can give that up, want other unwanted habits can I eliminate from my life? Might my tendency to leave my dirty socks all over the house similarly be on the table? I vowed to give it a shot. It’s really so stupid, and I don’t know why I keep doing it. But it’s like, whenever I get home at the end of the night, after I take the dog for a walk, I just take off my shoes and leave my socks anywhere: on the floor by the front door, in the kitchen, the bathroom. My wife hates it. I’ve told her time and time again that I’ll try to consider really making an effort to direct the socks toward the laundry hamper, but I’ve never made it more than one day before I find myself looking down at my bare feet, contemplating my sockless state of being, wondering where I could I have left them behind. Then my wife screams at me, then I have to start apologizing.

But I stopped. I totally put my dirty socks in the laundry hamper. I don’t know what’s gotten into me, or how I tapped into this previously unknown command of willpower. I thought, if I can manage to take care of the sock problem, why not try something really big? What about my inexplicable practice of leaving gas on? It’s more than a bad habit, it’s something that borders on the pathological. Regardless of how hard I try, there’s something inside of me that insists on going into the kitchen and cranking up the gas dials on the stove. It’s always right before I leave the house. And my wife yells at me, “Rob! What the hell! Are you trying to kill me?” and I’m like, “No! I have no idea how that could have happened!” And I used to deny it and claim that it must have been someone else. I’d even blame it on my wife. But over the years, she’s caught me in the act on several occasions. And each time, I’m like, what am I doing? It’s like I’m not even aware that I’m flooding the whole house with poisonous gas.

But I kicked it! I finally managed to stop doing it. And so I’m just really pumped up here. I feel like there’s no limit to the amount of change I can implement in my life. Maybe I’ll be able to stop throwing knives at the walls. Or spiking the milk with bleach. What kind of a person would do stuff like that? Not me. Not anymore. You’re not going to find me loosening the screws that hold the railings tight against the staircase anymore. It’s about time I said goodbye to stuffing bananas into the tailpipes of my neighbor’s car. At my current rate of success, I won’t have anything to resolve come New Years. Because who has time for all that nonsense? Not me. Nope, absolutely no more bad habits on my end. I’m a brand new person. I promise.

Dirty laundry

Most of my socks have holes in them. Every time I need a pair of socks, I have to go through this giant pile, they all look identical, and I have to try to match a sock that’s equal to another sock. It’s my own fault, I’ve dug myself a pretty nice sock hole here. Every time I go to Costco, I buy another pair of socks. Right out of the package, these socks are great, the elastic is really snug, the fabric firm. But after a month or two months of use, they get a little thin.


And so my problem is more than just socks with holes. My problem is that I’ve been buying new socks every month for the past two years or so, without ever having gotten rid of any of the old socks. I’ve got a huge pile of socks, all with varying degrees of wear and tear. When I’m trying to find a pair of socks, I’m laying them all out, and again, they all look exactly the same, so I’m trying to feel a seven-month sock against a five-month sock, and then after going through twelve or thirteen potential pairs, I finally get a good three-month to three-month match, but then I put them on and the left one has a premature hole, and so I’ve got to throw it out and start from scratch.

All of my pants smell really bad. I’m six four and I have a thin waist, so buying pants isn’t the easiest. Every time I go to a clothing store, I always try on a pair of jeans. On the rare chance that there’s a decent waist-to-length combination that actually makes it all the way down to my feet, I’ll always buy them right there.

But I can never put them in the dryer. Clothes shrink, jeans especially, and I’ve learned the hard way that the only way to ensure that right-from-the-store fit is to make sure that they never go in the dryer. So how do I get them dry? I have to hang them up in the basement. And for most of the year it’s not a problem. I take them out of the wash, hang them up, and then a day later they’re dry.

But it’s been so wet lately, so rainy and humid and gross. I’ve been trying to wash my pants for weeks, but every time I leave them to dry, I come downstairs the next day and they’re still kind of wet. And then I come down a day later and, maybe they’re a little dryer, but they’re still kind of damp. After day three, I need a new pair of pants, and even through they’re not super dry, they’re dry enough, and so I just put them on.

And then I notice that smell. It smells like an old basement. It’s that smell that you get when you put a load of laundry in but you forget to move it to the dryer. So I keep it there in the washing machine for like four or five days, and then later that week I’m out of underwear, so I really need to do another load, but that first load is still sitting there in the dark, wet washing machine. I don’t have any time to run it through again, and so I just throw it in the dryer, whatever, I tell myself, maybe the heat will somehow make things cleaner.

But it never does, it’s gross, that smell is worse than just regular basement. It’s regular wet dirty basement, and maybe I’m in a rush and I’m late for work and so I take a shower and I’m running even later than I thought, and so I don’t have any time, I just grab something to wear, anything, and then when I’m finally out of the house, I finally make it to the subway, it hits me, what’s that smell? It’s me. I stink. I smell like gross dirty laundry that’s been sitting in a wet, dark corner of the basement for a better part of a week. And there wasn’t enough time to match a pair of socks, and so one foot feels great, just really bundled up in that brand new sock feeling, but other one might as well be going commando, there’s a hole at the tip, my big toe can’t stop moving around in there, squirming, trying to fit itself through the hole. And did that guy standing next to me move because he can smell the laundry smell? Is it really that noticeable? Am I really that unpleasant to be around? Of course I am. I wish I could walk to the other end of the subway, but it would just follow me, because it is me. It’s me. These clothes smell horrible. My socks are the worst.

A good pair of wool socks

I went hiking with a few guys from work last winter. It would have been a great day, but I couldn’t keep my toes warm, and so try as I did to just enjoy myself, the weather, the outdoors, being with my friends, I couldn’t shake the feeling that way down, at the lowest point of my physical being, there was this little area that not only refused to be warm, but it denied comfort to the rest of my body.

winter hiking

My torso was fine. The hat on my head kept everything on top nice and toasty. But my toes sent dramatic distress signals ringing throughout the entire system, “Help! We’re freezing! It’s so cold down here! You’ve got to do something about it! You’ve got to help us out! No time to focus on anything else but right down here! Cold! Cold! Cold!”

And finally I couldn’t take it, I had to stop for a second, I told the group, “Guys, I need a minute, my toes are freezing, I’ve got to warm them up,” and, naturally, everyone stopped, but they kind of looked around at each other, like seriously? This guy’s going to sit here and, what, start undressing because his toes are cold?

And I could tell what they were thinking, so I needed to find a way to get the attention off of me, I asked my friend Doug, “Doug, your feet aren’t freezing? I don’t know what I’m doing wrong here. My boots are waterproof, not that it’s raining, but still, it’s just that, I have two pairs of socks.”

My other friend Pete fielded the question, “Two pairs of socks? You’ve got them both on at the same time?” I nodded. “That’s your problem right there, your feet can’t breathe. We’re doing all of this walking, your feet start to overheat, they sweat, and that sweat starts to get cold. It’s a temperature drop spiraling out of control, and those waterproof boots probably aren’t helping, no ventilation, it’s like a greenhouse in there, but one that’s not at all strong enough to withstand the outside temperature.”

That was a lot that he just said, and I really badly wanted to counter with something, anything, because, first of all, I was asking Doug, and yeah, I did pick Doug kind of randomly, but Pete could have at least let Doug fumble around a little bit, a, “Yeah …  I don’t know …” before butting in like a know-it-all. If Doug didn’t have an immediate answer, at least I wouldn’t have looked like I’m the only one not knowing what he was doing. But now, Pete, calling me out on the double socks.

That was only the beginning, “And what do you have there, cotton socks? Wool?” Was this a trick question? “Cotton,” I answered, and I should have said something else, I should have thrown him a curveball, like synthetic, but I didn’t, and Pete would’ve probably been able to tell anyway, this guy apparently knows everything there is to know about socks, he was shaking his head, “No, nope, nope, you gotta have wool socks. The cotton, all it does is absorb the sweat. That’s not going to happen with wool.”

Then he kind of turned around to address the group, like he was giving a lecture, a sock symposium, “I’m telling you guys, all I have is one pair of good wool socks, and I’m fine, my toes are really warm.” And everyone else just nodded in agreement, meanwhile I was sitting on some log, undoing the knots in my boots. “Easy Rob,” Pete was still on a roll here, “I know your toes must be really cold but don’t take your boots off. It’s much colder outside, even though it doesn’t feel like it. And even if you do manage to warm up your feet with your hands, it’s going to be even worse when you have to put them back inside those damp cotton athletic socks you have there.”

Couldn’t he just drop it? Did he really have to throw in the word “athletic” socks? Hiking is athletic. You need a little bit of athleticism, right, to hike? “Actually,” Pete continued, “I think I have an extra pair of wool socks in my bag,” and that was all I needed, I took off my boots, yes, it was a lot colder out in the air, I couldn’t believe it. But I started massaging my bare feet, I don’t know if it felt good, because my feet were so cold, it was like they were transferring that chill to my hands. Were my hands going to be cold now?

“Ooh, sorry buddy, I must have left them at home. Well, let’s get going, we’ve got a lot more trail to cover.” And everybody started walking ahead, I had to put the wet socks back on, they had accumulated a slight layer of frost after having been laid out beside me. It was miserable. I don’t know why Pete couldn’t have sent out an email the night before, “Hey guys! Since I know everything there is to know about socks, I figured I’d pass along some friendly advice: get a good pair of wool socks!” would that have been too much? A text message? Something?