Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sorting Socks and Shidduchim

Ever have a whole bunch of socks that need to be paired up and folded? You start out by dividing the various colors from each other and the various patterns from each other. A black sock gets a black sock as a mate. A brown sock gets a brown sock as a mate. Why do we do it this way? Because we have a working rule that says that two socks should be of the same color and same pattern. And when you go to wear these socks you put on black socks to a black outfit and brown socks to a brown outfit. You don't wear navy socks with a beige outfit. Why? Because we have a rule that says that socks should match the outfit they are worn with.

Let's accept for a moment that the rules make sense. So there we have a pile of white athletic socks waiting to be folded. They are all cotton or a cotton blend. They are all calf length. So we can grab any two socks and pair them together? Nope. In that pile are different brands, different manufacturers. And we also have a rule that says that socks of the same brand should be paired together. So we search out the Hanes sock to pair with another Hanes sock. And the Fruit of the Loom socks only get paired with the Fruit of the Loom socks.

What is the purpose of socks? They protect our feet when we wear shoes. They keep our feet warm in the cold. They keep our feet from getting dirty. In what way does wearing a black sock and a green sock together keep the socks from doing what they are supposed to do? In what way does wearing a striped sock and wearing a plain sock together prevent the socks from doing their job? In what way does pairing two brands together keep the socks from their appointed job? "In no ways" is the answer. The color, the pattern and the brand name are not intrinsic to the idea of socks, are not intrinsic to the function of socks, are not intrinsic to the nature of socks. The "rules" about pairing socks are artificial; there is no inherent connection between the rules and the purpose for socks.

Your feet are freezing and your toes are getting numb, but you only have clean one blue solid sock and one brown patterned sock. The decision you have to make is do you protect your feet or do you follow the "matching sock" rule. You need to run out to the store for something necessary and you need to put on your shoes. You are wearing black pants. You only have one clean black sock and one clean green sock. The decision you need to make is do you wear the two socks that don't "match," or do you only wear one sock as long as it matches? Or do you not run out to the store, thereby depriving yourself of something you need and want, because you can't follow the matching rule? Should you be sensible, practical, or should you follow the "match" rule?

Society likes it when everyone follows the rules, no matter how silly or how impractical. No one wants to flout society's rules, even when doing so would make more sense then following them would. We worry about what others will think of us, even when these thoughts make no sense and serve no practical purpose. In fact, we seem to worry about what others will say far more then we need to.

When it comes to shidduchim we are not thinking about comfort, about what will suit us perfectly fine even if it wouldn't suit others, we are not thinking about practicality. We seem fully prepared to "freeze our toes off" just so long as we don't violate the "holy" rules of matching. There is no practical reason why you can't wear two white socks from different manufacturers. There is no practical reason why socks of different colors and different patterns cannot be worn together. What is important is the end result--are the socks when worn together able to do the job of socks?

Maybe, just maybe, we ought to stop worring about the colors, patterns and brand names of prospective shidduchim and start paying more attention to the purpose of a shidduch, to the comfort and practicality of a shidduch. Like matching socks, playing the "match" game with shidduchim is all artificial and most of the time makes very little sense.


jewtoo said...

Oh man is this a funhny posting. I never really thought about socks and shiduchim being the same but I think you may be right. Does thhis mean I can wear a black sock and a brown sock with my blue suit at a job interview?

ProfK said...

Not unless you have a note from a doctor certifying that you are totally color blind. The rules for job interviews are even stricter then the ones for shidduchim.

Anonymous said...

I've never been compared to a sock before. A totally new experience. And I thought I had heard them all.

Anonymous said...

Just a personal question. Do you ever sleep? I only found this blog this week and I am never going to catch up on the old postings and a dozen new ones are up already. Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the postings, but do you ever sleep?

Lon said...

Well just look at the stuff people wear in the winter that doesn't keep them warm but at least looks good. A person has to have priorities. If you're going to freeze to death, at least do it elegantly.

ProfK said...

Makes for a great epitaph--Here lies_______who had no common sense but is the best looking,elegant, most put together corpse-wearing-Yves St. Laurent ever seen.