Why do my socks disappear from the washing machine?
As a plumber, I often get asked: “Where do half my socks go, once they’ve been put in the wash?”
As far as I know, they get caught up in the back of the washing machine, or simply go missing from the washing line. But my young daughter told me it was something much more magical than that. Here’s her story:
There was a girl, called Isabel. She was 8-years old, and lived in a busy household with a working mum and dad, and her two younger brothers.
With a stretch and a yawn, she awoke early one morning for school, keen to get herself washed, dressed, and ready for the day ahead. She had an important spelling test that day, and wanted to spend a little extra time revising before setting off. Isabel always wanted to do her best, and liked to plan for all eventualities. She’d already decided that, when she grew up, she wanted to become a journalist and interview world leaders, and other important people.
With one eye half closed, Isabel peeked at her clock and realised she had actually woken up much earlier than usual. Her parents were still wrapped in the warmth of their beds, so Isabel tiptoed out of her room, careful not to disturb their slumber. On the chair just outside her bedroom door, she looked down at her neatly folded school uniform and noticed something was missing.
“Only one sock! No problem,” she thought. “I’ll just find another pair,” But after searching high and low, there was not a matching pair in sight. How was she going to go to school with just one sock?
Feeling undeterred, Isabel decided to take matters into her own hands.
Hoping that she might find an extra sock in the washing machine, she quietly walked downstairs to the kitchen, her bare feet cold from the wooden floor beneath them.
She walked towards the washing machine, and bent down to peer inside.
What she saw was a colourful mismatch of socks, piled high in a corner of the washing machine. Her matching sock, sitting right at the top. “Perfect!” she shouted – covering her mouth as she did so. But as she reached her hand in to pull out the matching sock, she saw something move. Isabel quickly jumped back in shock.
“Don’t be afraid,” said a soft, muffled voice.
Slowly and cautiously, Isabel peered back into the machine and, out from the pile, shuffled a strange-looking creature, a kind of monster made from socks and rags, with a huge, happy grin stretched wide across its face. Isabel’s eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Her heart was racing, but she didn’t feel scared. There was something magical about this monster that felt warm and kind.
“Hi,” Isabel replied. Her voice barely louder than a whisper. “Who are you?”
The monster beamed, “I’m Count Sock, the Laundry Monster! In case you were wondering, I take one random sock from many of the pairs you put in this machine each week. You must be Isabel,” he announced with a huge twinkle in his big, bulging eyes.
Once she’d recovered from the initial shock of meeting a real-life monster, Isabel had a brainwave! This was the perfect opportunity to carry out her first, proper interview. This was a ‘scoop!’ So many questions, such little time, and who would even believe her?
Isabel grabbed a notebook and pen from the worktop, and proceeded to ask the important questions:
“Count Sock, what do you eat?”
“I eat all the loose change, rubber bands and fluff that come from your pockets,” Count Sock proudly responded. “I’m not keen on plastic, though,” he complained whilst picking some nylon from between his teeth. He went on to educate: “Laundry monsters don’t need to eat. We just like the taste. My personal favourite is belly button fluff”
Isabel dutifully processed the information and noted: “Count Sock isn’t keen on plastic as a food source… favourite is belly button fluff”
Then came the big question: “Count Sock, why do you take the socks in the first place… and why do you leave odd pairs?”
Count Sock recounted: “We only have one purpose in life: to keep vulnerable people, warm at night. We knit jumpers with all the odd socks we harvest. Sometimes we throw in the odd handkerchief or pair of tights. We then get our friends ‘the night slippers’ to leave them next to those that need them”
“But why the odd socks?” Isabel frustratedly repeated.
“Oh, we’re just not fussy about what we pick up,” the Count explained.
At this point, Isabel heard the floorboards creek above her head, a sign that her mum would be down any moment. With this, she hastily asked one more question:
“Count Sock, do you ever move to different parts of the house?”
“Yes! I use your pipes and plumbing to get around. Sometimes I slip under the floorboards.
I like to leave the toilet seat up, so your dad gets the blame. It passes the time of day,” the Count sheepishly answered.
And with that, Isabel could hear her mother calling her name whilst walking downstairs.
“Count Sock, I’ve got to go now, mum’s coming. I’ll see you again though, won’t I?
“Oh, yes. We’ll meet again” and Count Sock flopped back into the washing machine.
“Good morning, darling. You know the secret, then?” Isabel’s mother knowingly asked.
“What, about Count Sock?” Isabel responded.
“What? No… me hiding one of your socks under your chair. Who’s Count Sock?”