I Am More than My Silly Socks

There comes a time in every white 42-year-old midwestern-born man’s life when he is forced to ask himself the tough questions. Who am I? What do I want? And how do I get people to stop buying me silly socks? Though to be perfectly honest, I am really only concerned with the third question.

I do not like silly socks, and I have never liked silly socks. Somewhere along the way, every single person I’ve ever known got the idea that they were the thing I cherished most.

It started years ago, when my wife—then girlfriend—bought me a pair of silly socks after we first started dating. I think the specific design was an avocado playing the guitar or maybe it was a guitar holding an avocado. It’s hard to say as silly socks rarely adhere to the rules of any kind of reality.

In any case, she bought me these socks early on in our courtship, and so I added them to my sock rotation. Back in those days, I had maybe five pairs of dress socks, ranging in color from black to—my most daring at the time—midnight blue. Initially, I wore these silly socks because I wanted to make my girlfriend happy, but in doing so, I created a chain reaction that has, a decade later, resulted in me possessing nearly 80 pairs of silly socks, ranging in theme from Chucky dolls to coconuts wearing sunglasses and everything in between.

You see, wearing silly socks, even once, makes you a silly sock guy, and when you become a silly sock guy, all people ever gift you for the rest of your life are silly socks.

You spend about a third of your life at work. So when your entire work identity revolves around your silly socks, it can feel a little disheartening. Sure, I made the choice to wear those avocado socks, but what I didn’t see coming was that my coworkers would love them so goddamn much.

The first time I wore them, my boss, a stern man in his early 60s, laughed so hard that tears streamed down his face. Ditto for my co-workers, the parking lot attendant, and even the janitorial staff. Any time I sat down and showed a little leg, people lost their minds. It became “my thing.” When new hires would join the team, I’d be introduced as the guy with the silly socks. As I’d walk down the hall, people would say “show me those socks,” which made me feel uncomfortable, but I usually did it.

That first year, my co-workers gifted me three pairs of silly socks on my birthday. One had a cat playing video games. One had pieces of bacon on the moon. And the last one had a bunch of hearts on them, which seemed odd. When I went home that day, my wife had also gifted me another pair—blissfully unaware of my dislike of the original socks she’d purchased. The socks she got me, which maybe should have been the ones with hearts on them, actually had squirrels and disco balls, which was somewhat lost on me.

And so the cycle continued for a decade with my wife, my coworkers, my friends, and eventually, even my children, getting me silly socks for every birthday, every Christmas, and every life milestone and major event.

Occam’s Razor suggests that the simplest solution is usually best. In my case, that would be telling people that I don’t like silly socks. I don’t think William of Ockham ever had a silly sock problem quite like mine.

Inexplicably, the bedrock of my marriage and family life seems to be tied to these silly socks. At my workplace, I have continued to rise up the ranks, ascending from HR Specialist to VP of HR, in no small part due to these god-forsaken silly socks and their overall popularity at my office. Hell, one of the last conversations that I had with my mother was about whether or not I liked the socks with palm trees that she sent me from Florida. Thankfully, I told her I did.

I do not want to be defined by my silly socks, but perhaps it’s better to be known for something, even if it’s as frivolous as silly socks, than to never be thought of at all. I know I’m more than my silly socks and maybe that’s enough.

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