Substituting Socks

by on March 7th, 2015
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Jill watched in disbelief as Harry lovingly placed each pair of socks in perfect order according to shade, rich blacks turning into navy blues, chocolate browns and gunmetal grays fading into baby blue, dove and cream at the opposite end of the custom-built pull out glass shelves. When he began to sort them according to pattern and material, her mouth literally fell open. She shrugged. Her new husband’s passion for socks was harmless; she reminded herself it wasn’t porn and let it go.

After months of research, Jill presented Harry with a new pair of socks and asked how he liked his gift.

“These aren’t a gift, Jill.”

The first few times she raised her eyebrow at that comment. He sighed impatiently.

“It’s an addition to our investment portfolio.”

Jill learned to smile, nod, and walk away. Every year, Harry numerous E-mails and Christmas cards out to their family and friends, bragging how their sock collection – for which he made her travel with him as far as Scotland – was a valuable asset among their financial holdings.

Now they sat in a sterile off-white conference room and everything they had was on the chopping block. The beloved sock collection was appraised, from the Merino wool to the cashmere and even the rare pairs of cotton, (cotton socks only made it into the collection if the detailing or historical provenance was intriguing) and as crazy as it was, Jill wasn’t going to let Captain Argyle shut her out of a quarter million dollars worth of anything- especially socks. She could care less about the socks, of course. Splitting the collection would diminish the value but her attorney convinced her that forcing Harry to choose whether to ‘divide the baby’ would give her an edge in getting what she really wanted. Harry tried to claim the socks were his exclusively; however, since he never wore them, his claim was dismissed. Jill laughed to herself when he finally admitted to wearing plain white cotton socks every day. Now that it was firmly established that it was a joint asset, she would find out just how far Harry would go to keep his precious sock collection intact. For twelve years she watched him lure unsuspecting party guests into the custom-lit closet while detailing the creation of the Missing Sock Bureau during the Spanish American War and how the soldiers (issued only twelve pairs each) were found to be trading their socks for ‘favors.’ The polite titters and pitying glances made Jill cringe. Finally, she made him an offer; sell the socks and split the money, or turn over the house, dogs, furniture, cars and a vacation home and he could keep the socks.

Across the table, a frustrated Harry banged his fist on the table.

“For Pete’s sake, what do you want?”

Jill shrugged and looked out a window. She didn’t want a husband obsessed with collecting socks instead of memories and friends. Harry was always substituting and she was sick of living a life where she got expensively bred pups instead of the children they agreed to have; where he paraded their extravagant lifestyle as an affectionate relationship and used another woman in his bed as stand-in for his wife.

A secretary silently entered and Jill’s attention returned to the conference room. Harry who was whispering desperately to his lawyer, who grimaced occasionally, and then shrugged. The secretary placed more papers on the table and slipped out of the room. Harry’s glances were furtive and then resigned. Jill struggled not to look gleeful as she watched him accept the proffered pen from her attorney. He hastily scribbled his signature and sneered at her while his attorney signed.

“Looks like you’re out in the cold, Jilly,” he said, smirking and elbowing his attorney, who acknowledged him with a brief grunt. “The socks are all mine.”

Jill stood as the attorneys shook hands and headed for the exit, ignoring him. She stopped just short of the door and turned around.

“Put a sock in it, Harry.”


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