Better Life

The Fancy Sock Paradox

The Fancy Sock Paradox
A sure-footed dilemma.

I didn’t always have what young go-hards call “sock game”—in fact, it was a scene I avoided for a long, long time. Every morning I’d slip into my black Hanes with a curmudgeonly satisfaction that only the most stubborn men could feel with such an insignificant act.

Then, one day, it all changed.

My friend, who we’ll call Alan from marketing—because that’s his real name and job title, showed me a pair of socks he’d recently purchased. They were…absolutely sublime. Thick, patterned, loud-but-not-obnoxious…f*cking gorgeous. From then on, I knew my life would never be the same, because I had just stepped into the fancy sock paradox.

Here’s how the paradox works: you find an insignificant item and then systematically replace that item when a higher-end version of the item is found. Typical Millennials go for this serial replacement therapy with normal things like bedsheets, stationery, and home goods. For me, it’s with socks. See, the moment I realized Alan’s socks were superior to mine, I knew I had to change my entire life. That night, I threw away all my black socks and bought five pairs of nice ones—just enough to get me through the week. I carefully debuted my new look the following day and received many high-fives, nods, and winks from my peers for discovering the “sock game.” What they didn’t know was that these simple foot accessories were to play a huge role in the unraveling of my life.

The paradox didn’t manifest itself fully until a few months later, when a friend showed me his new muscles from a stint at the gym. Like the sock event, I went home and threw away all the junk food I’d been storing in my cabinets like a sick little squirrely hoarder. What happened next was a testament to how the paradox impacted my life: I took the junk food out of the trash. Why, you ask? I thought hard about everything I’d been through to replace my entire collection of socks. The money I spent, the pants I had to buy to compliment the socks, the shoes I had to buy to compliment the pants that complimented the socks. As I pondered my crippling existential crisis over my pint of post-trash-ice-cream, I knew that socks had changed my perspective on life’s problems—and that perspective involved the American act of avoidance.

You can’t just make one small improvement on life without replacing a million other things in order to make way for the upgraded version. If you want new bedroom curtains, you’re going to have to replace your old bedroom curtains. The new bedroom curtains might not match your bedspread. So you buy new sheets, you buy a new comforter, you buy a new bed, you move into a new apartment—boom, you’re dead broke and doing questionable things for meth. Look, I’m not passing judgment; I’m just saying that Alan from marketing ruined my life.

Thanks, Alan.

What is life before the fancy sock paradox? The most brilliant shade of beige. Everything is fine, normal, and safe. You eat vanilla pudding, don’t toast your bread, and drink sparkling water, because who knows what kind of person you’ll turn into if you upgrade to toast or Dr. Pepper. It’s lonely, yes, but it’s secure. You’ll never go broke, you’ll never get dumped, you’ll never sell your body for barbiturates, you’ll live forever. As for the socks I have on now—they’re brilliant—easily the most exciting part of my life and I’d like to keep it that way.

Remember, if a well-dressed Asian man named Alan comes near you bearing bad news about your particular fashion statement, just keep in mind that he’s a normal human being that can be easily knocked unconscious with household items like office chairs and those little fake rocks that people hid their house keys inside of. Changing your life is your choice. Good luck, people.