"Are you doing this just to annoy me?"
I answered by telling Skylar he needed to be more specific. That's when he held up a sock. A perfectly fine sock. He disagreed with that characterization. "Perfectly fine socks don't have giant holes in them."
He, of course, was being unreasonable again. He did this with my underwear not too long ago. "Did you fight a war wearing those? Is that why you haven't gotten rid of them? Are they special to you in a way I can't understand."
"We don't throw away things that still fulfill their intended function," I informed him, stapling the hole closed, which hole I hadn't noticed until he pointed it out.
"God," he responded. "I've married your father."
"What's it to you if I'm wearing socks with holes in them?" I thought this was a good question. He did not think this was a good question.
I received a lecture in that moment that began with "have you no shame" and ended with "don't make me have to explain this to you again." During the middle part he threw in a cursory "and when you leave this house you represent this family." I resisted the urge to remind him of his recent revelation about marrying my father.
The next thing I knew, I had turned into a one-member audience for a mandatory-attendance presentation of every pair of socks I own and which ones we were required to send on back to Jesus.
"Dear Lord, Eli." He was pulling two socks apart from the tidy ball in which I had folded them. "These aren't even the same color! Or length!"
"I like them that way," I lied. "Mismatched socks is part of my personal brand."
"Laziness is your personal brand? Sloppiness is your personal brand? Inattention to detail?"
The questions seemed like a trap, but I navigated through the landmines.
" . . . yes?"
Skylar rolled his eyes as he tossed another pair into the garbage bin sitting just between us.
"Now what was wrong with those socks???"
"They weren't even socks," he told me. "That was a handkerchief stuffed into a mitten. Why do you even have a mitten?"
I didn't have an answer to that, but did think it was worth a conversation whether the handkerchief should be saved.
"Have you ever, in your life, actually needed a handkerchief for any reason?" He seemed to think this was a more important consideration than the quality of the product.
I think I surprised him when I told him, as a matter of fact, I had participated in a number of Mormon temple dedications in which the wave of a white handkerchief was in fact part of the custom and ritual.
"I'll cut you a deal," he said without looking at me as he fished loose pieces of unidentified cloth out of the drawer. "If you convert back to Mormonism and find yourself in need of a temple handkerchief, I will personally make you one out of my own hair." This was a promise only a man who has underestimated my commitment to winning an argument would make.
He finished the chore a minute or two later, my sock drawer an empty shell of what it once was.
"NOW what am I supposed to wear," I told him, pointing into the bare drawer.
"You know they sell socks at dozens of stores across the world, right?" he answered me.
In a way, I'm grateful that he attacked me like this. In the days since, I've learned that socks are pretty unnecessary if you just toss a little baby powder into each shoe before putting them on. I suspect he'll be proud of my ingenuity once he finds out.
Maybe I should tell him.
~It Just Gets Stranger