(Reprinted from 2001)
Christmas is the time of year when you get some of the things you always wanted as well as many of the things you never wanted. Argyle socks come to mind, the kind with those red and yellow diamonds, which would not have been that terrible if you weren’t 12 years of age at the time and couldn’t imagine committing the fashion faux pas of wearing socks with patterns with your sneakers.
These kind of socks were a favorite gift of an older relative, who could be counted on to keep you well supplied with footwear that would get worn only as a last resort, such as when the other socks in your universe had been sucked into a hole in the space-time continuum that existed somewhere between the dryer and your sock drawer.
Over the years, however, I have discovered that I was pretty much the go-to guy for argyles, while certain others might have gotten a little something different.
This led me to realize, despite my earlier impression that old Cousin Gertie just wandered down the aisles saying, “Where’s the road-kill sock department?” that there is the possibility that some serious thought did go into her selections.
Let’s just say that “socks” and “stocks” may sound something alike, but there is a significant difference between the two.
On one particular Christmas morning, I unwrapped the usual package containing two pair of brown, red and yellow socks, and exclaimed, “Yuck! Socks! Why does Cousin Gertie always send me the same ugly socks? These socks are so ugly that if you tied one to Ralph the Dog’s head, he’d shave his rear-end and walk backwards!”
So, I’m carrying on about these socks, while another person in my family goes through his little package. He unwraps it carefully, pulls out something, stares at it and then looks up and says, “What does ‘Mellon Bank stock’ mean?”
Hmmmm. What it means, I wanted to say, is that you sent thank-you notes for all those socks you got for the last nine years, you little kiss-up, while I blew it off like any normal kid would do.
Over time, I have tried to work this out for myself so I don’t look so bad, and the only acceptable conclusion, aside my having demonstrated a lack of appreciation for what I did get, is that Cousin Gertie had failing eyesight and mistook “stock certificate” for a “sock certificate,” redeemable at the local clothing store.
Who knows? All I can say is that both the socks and the stocks split.
The lesson learned here, incidentally, is applicable to this very day. It pays to show your appreciation for whatever you get, because you never know when someone might confuse you with the good kid in the family
– Stewart Dobson