It wasn’t a very big box … oh, about 12- or 14-some-odd inches by maybe 8 or 9. I dug it out of the black hole also known as my closet.
It was the perfect size to send a care package to our collegeboy in Athens. Normally I’d wait until school actually starts to send goodies north — they still have a few days before classes kick in — but an opportunity arose I couldn’t pass up.
His friend Gil was still here and would be headed back up to UGA in a day or so. I could send it by him and not have to put it in the mail.
For those of you who have not quite reached the age of having children in college, you may not fully appreciate the thrill of coming across someone — student or fellow parent — who will be traveling to the same destination as your college educating child. It is a glorious nugget, especially those times when you feel the need to get something to them and you can’t get it there yourself … or mail won’t get it there fast enough … or you don’t have the time to go by the post office … or you’re just too lazy to go by the post office. An Athens-bound vehicle is — in the words of Martha Stewart — a good thing.
Now, you may be wondering — what did I so urgently need to send our son that could not wait until we see him in two weeks? Was it medication? Money? An 8x10 framed photograph of his mother that he cannot live without? No, none of those.
It was socks.
What? A perfectly smart 20-year-old with a perfectly good working vehicle and money in his pocket could not go to the store and purchase socks himself? Sure he could.
But the question is, would he?
“I need to get some,” were the words he said last week when his father and I drove up to deliver furniture for his room in the new house he and his roommates are renting.
“Where are your socks?” I had asked, simply enough, as I straightened up his room and offered to put his clothes in the dresser we had just delivered.
Maybe I should back up.
“Where are your clothes?” was my very first question. I wish I hadn’t asked. They were in his car, the place he threw them as they were moving out of the old house. That was at least five days ago.
“Where is your underwear?” was my next question. He gets it out of his car as he needs it, he explained. And finally …
“Where are your socks?” And you know the rest. He needs to get some.
What? No socks? Surely he had socks, I thought. I, myself, had purchased no less than 50 pairs of socks for him in the last year. Possibly more. Was he wearing them once and throwing them away? Was he giving them away to friends and neighbors? Was he wearing them until they disintegrated from their own smell? Was he eating them?
God only knows. All I know is that nary a sock could be found. He said he was going to buy socks after we left that day, but could I really trust him? This young man who has been fetching pairs of clean underwear one by one from his car?
As we drove home I had visions of him getting trench foot from not wearing socks with his tennis shoes.
So I dug a not very big box out of the black hole also known as my closet and filled it with brand new socks. Eighteen pairs. And then I threw in an envelope with $40, just in case he needs to buy more socks — or food — so he wouldn’t eat his new socks. And then I threw in a baggie of chocolate chip cookies I baked, just to be sure he wouldn’t eat his new socks, which I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t do but a mother’s mind does tend to wander when she’s worried about her child.
And you can never be too careful. Because I suspect trench foot would not make for a very good time when he comes home for Christmas break.
Thanks, Gil. It’s quite possible you just saved Christmas.
Email columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.