Monday, September 14, 2015

Sock it to Me

Men are nearly impossible to buy for. 

Really, the repertoire of men's gifts is rather minimal. Shirts. Ties. Sweaters. Barbecue tools.

Sure, you could get something for his hobby. But even hobbies have their limits. There are only so many Fender Telecasters you can buy for a man before the house begins to look like Don's Pawn Shop.

But, then there are socks. Socks don't take up a lot of room. They are easy to pop into a gift bag. They are washable. They are not overly expensive. They're worn everyday. They wear out so you can buy them year after year. They even come in designer colors and patterns.  "Socks" is even a funny word to say. "Socks." They make a great gift.

The Mister likes socks; the more outspoken the fashion statement, the better. Fortunately, his twin brother likes them, too, This makes gift buying a breeze. Their birthday is coming up. I'm advocating an annual sock exchange. 

It worked for my Dad and his brother, Bob. Here's how it went: Uncle Bob paid Dad a visit every year on his birthday, October 15. He brought with him a birthday gift of one pair of McGregor "Happy Foot" socks. Perhaps you are not familiar with this brand. On the market since 1930, they are a Canadian product, still available at The Bay. Happy Feet (plural for Happy Foot?) were created as a health sock in a cotton/wool blend with a special terry-cloth cushioned sole. They had the approximate bulk of today's tube sock. 

Uncle Bob's work required him to be on his feet all day where a cushioned sock would be a welcome accessory, if not a fashionable one. My Dad, on the other hand, preferred a slimmer, subdued, dressy kind of sock by Gold Toe to wear with wing-tip shoes and a suit for his work in the office. He gave a pair of Gold Toes as a birthday gift to brother Bob every year.

Dad hated the Happy Foot socks, especially in the colors Uncle Bob picked out: magenta, lilac, aquamarine, goldenrod. What these socks offered in practicality, in my Dad's mind, they more than outdid themselves in hideousness. Every year, my mother would say, "Why don't you just tell Bob you don't like them?" And my Dad would reply, "Where's the fun in that?"

You see, it gave my Dad no end of pleasure to march the Happy Foot socks back to The Bay, where he took great glee in the return transaction, which he conducted 6 months to a year from the time he got the socks, without a receipt, insisting to some poor sales clerk that the store has a money-back, satisfaction-guaranteed, return policy, which in his mind, had no time restriction. I'm convinced that stores worldwide took up the "no exchange or return after 90 days" strategy because of my Dad. Word got out.

Whether or not Uncle Bob kept and wore the Gold Toes, I have no idea. Maybe he also hot-footed it down to The Bay to take them back. As far as I know, he was never the wiser that Dad disliked the annual Happy Foot gift. Anyway, it's the thought that counts. For Dad, the socks were the gift that kept on giving.

I think there is a lot of gift-giving potential here for the Mister and his brother. They could engage in a little sibling rivalry competing for who can find the more outrageous socks. Oh, darn! Sorry, Brother-in-Law dear, I just gave away the surprise! Your socks are in the mail. And my beloved Mister: yours will be in a gift bag for your birthday.