I've still got nearly every sock I've ever had since I was 16.
When one wore out, I would keep its twin; many of them did wear out, though, so perhaps a more accurate comment is, I still have half of the socks I've had since I was 16.
I wore odd socks for a while too.
The biggest hit to my collection, came when my sister went to university. Unlike myself, who lived in dorms for two years and stayed at home for two years (because it was local), she moved further afield and went straight into a house share. We had often borrowed and shared socks between ourselves, and I was just as sneaky as she was about it. Aaand, we're both kind of last-minute people. So, as she was packing the night before, I'm pretty certain sorting out whose socks exactly were who's wasn't high on her priority list. If she had some of mine, clean or dirty, at the time she left, she took them with her.
Then she and her housemates ended up treating all socks as communal too, and a matching pair was cause for a celebratory lunch; by the time she left, it was also several housemates later. Again, she was packing at the last minute, but seeing as this journey would be made by car, rather than the van Dad had hired the first time around, the goal was to (aim to) travel light. Things like odd socks got left behind, and then they were gone forever!
I still have a LOT of socks.
About 200, just to pull a figure out of thin air.
To be clear, that's 200 spare socks. I have about 20 pairs of socks that I actually wear. I switched to black socks, rather than coloured/patterned ones, about 18 months ago, but my odd sock collection was already well established.
I do have them set aside "for a purpose" -- for sock puppets! Although to be honest, I was saving them before I thought of that.
I remember the story behind almost all of them. Most of them were Christmas extras, when my socks were starting to run low (Mum didn't know I was hoarding them...). I remember which ones are my sister's that I never gave back. In some cases, I remember what happened to the opposing one: the red stripey one got a huge hole on the top of the foot because I pulled at a loose thread that wasn't so loose after all. The Little Miss Sunshine sock wore a hole through the bottom, after my shoe had worn a hole through it (actually, that happened several times... I generally tried to make shoes last longer than they should do). The socks with my name on were rescued from my sister's clutches a few days before she went to Australia. After they were washed, I put one of them in her case, with a note saying:
Uh-oh! A stowaway!
Make sure you bring
me back safely.
...and then snaffled it back amongst the ditching of stuff when her case was too heavy at the airport. My socks have memories.
But, I'm moving to San Francisco. Hopefully not permanently, but who can tell? For all intents and purposes it might as well be. At the very least it will be several years. And, moving stuff costs money. Lots of money. Plus, the apartment is smaller than here, etc.
More to the point, let's be realistic. I ... don't need ... 200 spare socks (that was difficult to say). Yes, I may someday want to make sock puppets. Yes, I may one day have children with whom to make sock puppets. But... probably not a whole school full. And honestly, for most Mums I know, just getting through the day with a vague hope of clean dishes, clean undies for tomorrow, something semi-nutricious for dinner, and, (if you cross your fingers and are very, very fortunate), having a focused ten minutes of concentration on homework from their children, is generally about as good as it gets. Everyone wants to be the sock puppet/flower picking/snowman making/telling old family stories Mum/parent, and, in the families I have witnessed, I have yet to see it actually happen. But, even if I did have a sock puppet moment, what are the chances that I couldn't locate one of my, or Pete's, socks for the occasion?
I could use the socks for other reasons, such as dusting mitts. But would I still need 200? Likely not. And again -- I could just nominate one of my current pairs of socks, or one of Pete's, for the occasion.
But, when I think about throwing those socks away, it makes me sad. Apart from anything else, it's the death of the sock-puppet dream. The death of the dream of being that Mum, maybe. The death of all of the potential I'd poured into it, waiting, wishing and hoping, for someday.
Death is sad.