Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ramblings From a Socks-ist

I have been privileged in my life to have travelled all over and seen things I never even dreamed of and had adventures beyond anything I could have imagined. I have ridden camels in the ancient city of Petra and climbed the uneven steps of the Great Wall. I have snowboarded in the French Alps, jet-skied in Mexico and come face to face with sharks thirty meters below the surface of the Red Sea in Egypt. I’ve explored the Forbidden City and seen the sunrise at the Taj Mahal. I have been chased by angry monkeys and a mad cow. I have had champagne on yachts in the south of France, turned thirty at the casino in Monte Carlo and gone mountain biking in Nepal. And during all the travel and adventures, I have come to learn three non-disputable facts of life:

  1. People are basically kind at heart. They will welcome you into their homes and make you a part of their family, sharing their meals, their stories and their beer.
  2. If people don’t speak a word of a common language, they will always repeat themselves, speaking slower and louder, completely convinced it will make all the difference in the world.
  3. Men everywhere, regardless of class, race, religion or financial situation wear white socks in situations that should be considered illegal.
The first point has made my travels unforgettable. To actually experience a culture from the inside, not as a tourist, but as a close friend is amazing. At times it is odd not really being able to communicate, but the friendliness is there. And the food. Wow. I have had some of the best meals of my life prepared by total or almost total strangers. Except for that one time when Mrs. X made me an entire pan full of liver and rice. I hate liver. I hate the smell of liver. And then after piling it onto my plate, I realized that nobody else ate liver. It was just for me. I ate the entire plate in very small bites that would allow me to swallow without chewing.

The language barrier has sometimes been one both a source of extreme humor and frustration. It usually happens in one of two ways. Either, the person is trying to explain something, that the look on their face highlights as being of dire importance, a matter of life and death. Off they go, speaking in a language I don’t understand or have any clue about. Hindi, Bengali, Chinese. I give them the shrug of the shoulders and say very slowly “I don’t speak ______” and they respond by speaking louder and adding a tone of frustration to it, pleading with their eyes for me to understand. Or perhaps they are calling me a stupid idiot with their eyes and I am merely misinterpreting.

Other times I come across people who want to practice their English: “I Chinese art student… Study hard... You like see Chinese student art studio? No pay... Only looking... Maybe like... Very close... Yes? Only look... I try draw you picture... No ask pay... Very close... You want massage?”

The last point is the one that really grates on my nerves. Take a look around. I guarantee there is a guy within your close proximity wearing white socks when he should not be. Just for the record, I am not trying to be socks-ist (ok, maybe I am just a bit). I have nothing against white socks as long as they are seen only in the gym... Or perhaps in porn. They are called gym socks for a reason. They belong in the gym. Not sure how they became a staple in porn films, but that is neither here nor there… The point is, they do not belong in a pair of leather shoes. They should not be worn with jeans, trousers and certainly not mixed with a suit or business casual attire. There is simply no excuse for it. Black socks cost just the same as white ones, so if one can afford socks, one can afford socks of an appropriate color. And for Pete’s sake, don’t ever, ever wear socks of any color with sandals. It does not make you look cool. Makes you look like an idiot is what it does.

Just for the heck of it, I Googled “white socks” and came up with this from askmen.com:

After conducting a survey with over one hundred beautiful women on their most hated fashion no-no's, the big winner was by far "white socks with pants or jeans". The basic response was that not only does it reflect major lack of fashion sense, but complete lack of class. Of course, wearing white socks does not automatically make you a hick, but image is everything nowadays. You have exactly three seconds to impress a woman when she sees you. You don't want her to spend 2.9 of those seconds staring at your socks.

And if trying to impress a more sexually open-minded man is your thing, then you have even less time than that. In less than a micro-second, we have judged you on hair, eyebrows, teeth, eyes, nose, pecs, biceps, abs, hands, package, labels, shoe size and last but not least, your socks.

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