(March, 1999)

Socks and Bleach
from Roman H.

Hi, Ed! Was viewing everyone's input and thought I'd share my latest funny experiences.

My psoriasis is limited at this point (thank God—it's been worse, believe me!) to my hands, feet and elbows. It's pretty bad—it itches terribly and cracks open, oozing and bleeding. So, when I get home in the evenings after work, I immediately get out of my work clothes and change into more comfortable, lounging attire. A woman's home is her castle, after all.

Since my feet gross even me out—but especially my two sons and occasionally my husband—and if they're uncovered, I tend to scratch more which, as all of us know, makes it sore and bleed even more ... I put on socks. I don't want to go as far as wearing shoes in my own home when I don't have to, so I compromise and cover up my nasty feet with socks. Any variety. Doesn't matter.

If I have to let the dog out in the front yard (can't let my mutt out back, our outdoor dog tries to kill her), I have to walk on to the grass with her or she will not "go." I stroll onto the grass in my SOCKS. I don't feel this is a problem, but we have close friends who invariably drop by when I'm venturing outside in my SOCKS. The husband just has to comment, "Hey, Socks, can't you afford shoes?"

It goes on and on, but suffice to say, this guy can't believe that I stroll around in socks at home. He calls me "white trash" and all other sorts of humorous comments. Pretty ballsy for a guy who goes around town in muscle shirts. Let's face it, we're in our late 30's and it's time to cover up. Whether it's a beer gut, fat upper arms, or flaky feet, we don't need to offend others, right? Their eight year old daughter announces, when she answers their phone and I identify myself, "Hey, Mom, it's SOCKS!"

So one night, my demure, tasteful husband walked in to the den wearing a MUSCLE SHIRT! I ran to the phone and called our muscle shirt friend and yelled, "Hey, Muscle Shirt Trash, it's SOCKS! You're lack of good taste has rubbed off on my husband and now he's wearing MUSCLE SHIRTS in front of me! It's disgusting!" We all shared a good laugh.

We all have healthy senses of humor and we all love each other as friends, so this ribbing and poking is in good fun. No offense taken. Anyway, for my birthday, guess what this couple gave me? A package of socks and a small, individual bottle of some kind of Jack Daniels lemonade booze stuff. Said it was for the "white trash" in me. These are the same people who gave me Chick O' Sticks candy for Xmas. They know me and love me. But some day, I have vowed to myself, when I'm feeling low and can't take the heat from my buddy, I will rip off my socks and wave my feet in this guy's face. I haven't had the nerve, yet, but I've been threatening him. Fair warning. His wife, bless her, stays out of the fray.

Ain't life great? Ha ha. Oh, by the way, a client's mother asked me if I had burned my hands and wrists this week. The psoriasis is flaky, red and oozing. Very angry looking. She's Hispanic, so I admitted to her that I had psoriasis and had even seen a "curandera" (Mexican white witch/folk
healer) for a cure. She died laughing when I told her that the curandera told me to soak my skin in bleach. She said, "That would surely burn it off!" I appreciated her enthusiasm and thought to myself, "Am I ready to pursue disability benefits for this crap now?" No. I love my job and can still work, thank God.

HAPPY SPRING! Take care, everyone. Thanks for your humor and inspiration, Ed. Keep up the good work. -Roman.

*****

Ed's Response: SOCKS! Now, how in the WORLD am I supposed to go on referring to you as "Roman"? I swear, SOCKS, I do the same thing. Schlup around in my socks all the time—outdoors, indoors, doesn't matter as long as I'm on that postage-stamp-sized piece of earth I call "home." And I do it for the same reason (ugly, flaky feet). Clara, my wife, would suggest I do it to contain the flaking, which would otherwise keep the carpets cruddy. Last summer (you may recall) I wore sandals—with socks. Everybody tells me that is a "very grandpa kinda thing to do." I've been tempted to buy a Scrooge-style nightshirt and cap just to round out the image when the grand-kids are around. So far, no one's associated my socks habit with "white trash" syndrom (perhaps the worn-out tire by the back door is all I need to achieve that image).

I am somewhat particular about the socks I wear, though. I must wear black. Navy blue or dark brown are "okay" only if I'm slumming (or they are the only pairs clean). My socks have to be the thin variety, not those "sweat socks" that end up bunched around your ankles after the third or fourth laundering has robbed them of all stay-up-ability. When I used to live in D.C., my thin socks were known as "dress socks" or "men's hose." I've never accepted the "men's hose" moniker. I don't wear hose, I wear socks. Also (and this I'm a bit reluctant to admit) I wear knee-highs. That's right, the over-the-calf variety. I've got big calves and narrow ankles, which make keeping shorter socks "up" impossible (no matter how few times they've been laundered). The only way I can keep my socks above my ankles is if the elastic rides higher than the curve of the gastrocnemus muscles (back of the calves). Festooned in full-length pantaloons, as I normally am, my knee-highs don't attract much attention, but those that know me most intimately are aware, and knee-highs really ARE a lapse of manliness and concession to old age. I got into the knee-highs habit when I was much too young. I wore Wellington boots all of the time and the upper edge of the leather would chafe my calves horribly. The knee-highs started as protection from the chafing. Then I realized how nice it was not spending all those minutes a day trying to fish my socks up out of the bottom of my boots. Knee-highs may be bad, but they are not as bad as those below-the-knee garters my grandfather wore, with little straps and fasten-lets that dripped down his calves to clamp onto his ankle-highs, and which were rarely successfully hidden when he sat cross-legged sipping coffee with my Mom. Having such vivid memories of those contraptions from my childhood, sported by a man I adored, is it any wonder I turned out like I did?

Sounds like you were level-headed about the curandera's advice. Soak your hands in bleach! I wonder what the NPF would say about THAT one? (I've never read about it in their "It Works For Me" column!) I admire your willingness to seek extra-cultural advice, but further admire your decision (implied above) not to take it. Stay in touch, Roman. It's always a delight to hear from you! -Ed

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