When a sock disappears, we are tempted to keep our partner, just in case.

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Dan Wallace jokes that his house is “one heap” away from being a suitable setting for a cable hoarder show. He’s kidding, I’m sure.

But Dan addresses a dilemma that many of us face: we don’t want to get rid of something we might need, even if that something is no longer needed.

Or temporarily useless. For example, more than a year ago, the two components of a pair of Dan’s socks were cruelly separated. The dilemma: If Dan believes he will never see the lost sock again, he should throw away the remaining sock. But what if he throws it away and one day the missing sock reappears?

Dan would undoubtedly drop to his knees – prodigal sock in one hand – and cry to the sky, “Whyyyyyyy? »

And, of course, isn’t that exactly the kind of thing the universe would do? Isn’t that how the universe works? You’d think the universe would have its hands full, but somehow it manages to keep tabs on you and your socks.

“Oh, he finally threw it away,” says the universe. “Now I can glue the missing sock to the bottom of her sock drawer.”

Socks are important to Dan. He kept a pair of his son by Conor cartoon Arthur the Aardvark socks since Conor was 9 years old. Conor is 29 now. Dan has a lone purple sock once worn by his 31-year-old daughter, Mollyhoping against all hope that his companion – who for three decades has been, as he puts it, “languishing in the cold case file” – will reappear.

“Hence my fondness for my own misplaced sock, outstanding in a set of seven others now,” wrote Dan, from Silver Spring. “All those lost items in a house full of possessions so expensive that we could not part with them in any way. Therefore, our starting house will now be our finishing house, as we know that any type of move would require a disinvestment comparable to the parable of the rich man.

I still crave a wonderful pair of striped socks that I bought from a bespoke shoe shop in Oxford. I couldn’t afford the custom-made shoes, but I could afford a few pairs of socks. One day, only one came out of the dryer. Where was his faithful companion, the Jeeves to his Wooster, the Abbott to his Costello, the Sonny to his Cher?

Lost through a loose seam in the fabric of time and space, I suppose. Or maybe in a hotel room in Texas, the last place I remember seeing the two socks together.

I kept this surviving sock for a year, hoping for a miraculous recovery from her partner MIA. It was a sad day when I finally threw it in the trash. Luckily for my psyche, the other sock never appeared.

I guess the same applies to other paired objects: earrings, bookends, shoes. (Although we never seem to lose a single shoe, do we?)

And that can apply to things like screws, scraps of wood, extra fabric, and other materials that we keep on hand just in case. We don’t know for sure if the uneven piece of drywall leaning against the basement wall will ever be needed, we just know if it is need, and we don’t have it, we will be deprived.

How long have you clung to something in the hope that its lost mate will return? What amazing reunion stories do you have? Or bitter disappointments? Send them – with “Lost” in the subject line – to [email protected]

Speaking of socks, lost or not, earlier this year Marta Vogel led a sock drive in his North Bethesda neighborhood. She had heard of a textile company in Alabama called Zkano that not only makes new socks, but recycles old ones, keeping them out of landfills.

“We accept all types of socks, of all brands, and you do not need to be a customer to send them to us,” the company explains on its website. (He adds, “Let’s keep it to the socks, y’all. That’s all we can recycle right now.”)

Old socks are not made into new ones, but into underpads for the automotive industry. You can find information at zkano.com/pages/zkano-recycles.

Marta spread the word via her neighborhood messaging group and in March she sent two boxes – weighing over 30 pounds – to Zkano. 10 extra pounds of clean, usable socks went to Goodwill. This is sophisticated footwork.