Sock-snatching - did the dog do it?

I’m confronting one of life’s great mysteries, worthy of Benedict Cumberbatch and Sherlock Holmes, CSI and the late Charlie Chan, not to mention the legendary Inspector Clouseau.

At approximately 5:15 in the morning EST when I open my underwear drawer, admittedly still bleary-eyed from a terrible night’s sleep of tossing and turning, I’m confronted with a troubling conundrum — how do you like that word? It’s popular among us detective types.

The conundrum is this: Where do missing socks go? Let me explain. For weeks, I’ve been staring at one brown sock and one black sock that my wife tied together and left in the corner of the drawer because their mates disappeared. Did they abscond together to another pair of feet? Are they hiding out of sight under the bed, engaged in unseemly sock activities? Were they forced to enter the Witness Protection Program?

I was perplexed as to how this could happen, so I conducted a thorough investigation of the sock drawer, the washing machine, the hallway and the basement, but came up empty-handed.

I estimate the washing machine is barely 36 feet from my bedroom, down two flights of stairs in the basement, so the socks could arguably have gotten lost in transit. Sooner or later, someone would have stumbled upon a stray sock. But how do two socks get lost within 36 feet? Statistically, that is as unlikely as winning Powerball or getting a surprise raise from your boss.

And this isn’t the first time it has happened. Does the washing machine eat socks? My wife couldn’t give me an answer when I posed that question, so I considered calling the Maytag man to see if he could offer any insights.

Before doing that, however, I examined the machine, and as far as I could determine, after opening the hatch and putting my head inside with a flashlight, there was no place a sock or two could have gotten lodged and lost, or gone on the lam.

The other possibilities were equally troubling. Could my wife be trying to drive me crazy the way spouses often do in British mysteries? All things are possible in married life. I, however, gave her the benefit of the doubt and dismissed that speculation.

And yet, there they were — a brown sock and a black sock separated from their mates. Truth be told, I was more worried about the missing black sock because I’m not a fan of brown socks.

Another possible theory that came to mind in the middle of the night is: The dog ate them. Dogs, as you know, eat many things, including homework, slippers, gloves and furniture, so why not socks?

When in doubt, blame the dog, I always say. I learned that from Agatha Christie. Over the years, I’ve witnessed many strange canine crimes. A dog ate my draft card — and that was a federal offense. Another dog ate my dentist bill, and I was charged a late fee. Another ate my homework — you’ve had that happen, I’m sure. Then, there was the dog that devoured my Mont Blanc fountain pen. She clearly had a taste for the finer things in life.

Plus, every chance our dog Bella gets, she puts her nose in my back pocket, pulls out my handkerchief and runs away with it behind the sofa, where she rips it to shreds.

She has this thing about chewing handkerchiefs, but I’ve never seen her do that with socks, although on several occasions we’ve played tug of war with them so you could arguably say I taught her this bad habit.

To prevent a reccurrence, I’m going to start buying socks of the same color, black, of the same make and model, so they’re interchangeable and require no thought in conjoining them after they come out of the wash. Then, if one gets lost, it won’t matter.

Of course, this will require a complete overhaul of my sock collection, which will make me pleasantly fashionable because there’s no greater embarrassment than wearing different socks to work or to the opera.

(Even better, I won’t have to lie awake at night, wondering whether aliens invaded my wardrobe and stole clothes to disguise themselves when they apply for jobs on Capitol Hill.)

As far as my investigation goes, after weighing the forensic evidence and sifting through alternative theories, I’m convinced ... the dog did it. And that my wife was a co-conspirator. The only baffling question is why? Where’s Sherlock when I need him?

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