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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Monday, May 29, 2023
3:06 pm


How often do you think about socks, really? You probably just put them on and go. I don’t think about them obsessively, but I probably think about them more than might be considered normal.

There are a lot of decisions to be made about socks, depending on the temperature and what you’ll be doing with your feet, not to mention which shoes you’ll be wearing or whether you’ll be cleaning the house.

It matters.

For instance, my big, fat, fuzzy socks are wonderful for curling up on the couch and binge watching Lost in Space. But they would try to kill me if I attempted to vacuum in them. They’d slide out from under me and I’d end up doing terrible things to my body.

Trying to wear anything but five-finger socks with my five-finger shoes would be pretty ridiculous.

And if I’m going to be walking sock-footed on the treadmill for two hours, I want the ugliest pair I can find so when they inevitably get worn out on the bottom, I don’t care.


Anyway, I got a little chuckle out of my obsession with… interest in the right kind of socks yesterday. It’s a leftover story from my childhood, a mere wisp of a tale, but one that flitted to mind nonetheless as I put my socks on before bed last night.

I bought cotton socks a couple of weeks ago because they are supposed to be good to wear to bed after you moisturize your feet. They are Buster Brown socks, which cracked me up.

We used to get Buster Brown shoes as kids. School shoes, mostly, so I can’t say it was my fondest memory, but they were pretty much synonymous with back to school. Every year we’d go to the shoe store, and they’d measure your feet with their big metal plate thing (which I’m sure has a name but I have not delved that deeply) and we’d get new shoes.

Buster Brown was the little boy mascot with the page boy haircut who fronted for The Brown Shoe Company. He had a dog named Tige.

But – if you’ll allow me a brief tangent – I had no idea that his history was so fascinating. He started as a comic book character in 1902. Two years later, his creator showed up at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, licensing the rights to use his character. Guess who else was at that fair?

If you said The Brown Shoe Company then congratulations! You do pay attention to what I say.

Anyway, Buster Brown became synonymous with shoes and shoes became synonymous with going back to school.

Also, he had a girlfriend named Mary Jane. Want to guess what she lent her name to?

I haven’t thought about Buster Brown probably since fourth grade. So when I saw that label on the socks I was amused.

And what I remembered specifically was my mother having to adjust my socks six ways to Sunday because I hated having the seam any way but perfectly across my toes. Because if it was the slightest bit off you got a lumpy thing in your shoe and that drove me to absolute distraction. Almost as much as I drove my mother to, insisting that my socks still needed adjusting.

Between counting pennies and adjusting socks, it’s a wonder my mother still likes me.

Now, fast forward 50 years and I literally had the same problem last night. I got out of the shower, moisturized my feet and put these socks on.

They don’t stretch like sweat socks, so there is no give. They go on one way, and one way only.

I must have put one on crooked because I spent the next half hour finagling with it. One heel felt too snug, the other toe felt too loose, and the seam was most definitely not perfectly straight across my toes.

I walked around for a while, wiggling my toes and shaking my foot and tugging at this sock and fidgeting with the seam until it finally struck me how completely hilarious and stupid it was.

Anyway, that’s the end of the story. I told you it was barely there, but sometimes these oddball memories strike me and need to be told.

I bet my mother remembers.

Also, Brannock device. The metal plate thing is called a Brannock device. You know I had to look it up.

Photo: Buster Brown socks, perfectly aligned. Now that I notice, maybe I’m the one who’s crooked.