08/14/2012 11:48 am ET Updated Oct 14, 2012

Live Longer, Wear Mismatched Socks

"What will people think?" Mom asked, many years ago, looking at my ankles with panic.

She denies it now, but I can't forget. I was speechless because it never occurred to me anyone was paying attention.

Turns out, people have a lot to say about a man's sock choice. They just don't mention it until they match.

I gave up matching my socks almost 10 years ago. One day I just stopped seeing the point. There was never any intended fashion statement. Though, I guess, people could see it that way. Probably because, in addition to refusing to ball them together, I also like colorful socks.

So, when I wore a blue argyle matched with a red wool, nobody said a word. I just assumed coworkers and friends just didn't notice. Socks were safely hidden under my pants. It wasn't like I was wearing Birkenstocks and biker shorts. I went on randomly filling my sock drawer until it looked like the coin laundry lost and found.

On rare occasions, like weddings or a Russian-Roulette-like chance that the two I pulled out were brothers, I wore matching socks. And only then, did everyone let me know they were, in fact, paying close attention.

"Hey, your socks match!"

"Whoa, what gives?"

"Finally gave up that weird sock stuff, huh?"

I grew incredibly self-conscious, like a spy movie when everyone is clandestinely watching the main character. But, by that point, I wore my socks with pride, knowing I'd live a more fulfilling life than all them.


Simple math. The only kind of math I know.

Let's say you spend five minutes, once a week, to match your socks. No big loss, right? Meanwhile, I dump my socks into a drawer without another moment's thought.

You repeat this task 52 times a year. That's nearly 4.5 hours a year!

"Worth it, for ankular symmetry," you say.

I'll be generous and guess you'll live to be 75. You look feisty. That, my fashion conscious chum, adds up to a tidy 14 days. Two weeks over your lifetime!

With an extra pair of weeks one could learn to ski. One could travel to sockless locales like Fiji. One could fall in love.

Or... one could make sure that the beige sock and the tan sock are properly separated. Thank god.

Keep on matching socks if you like. Just don't come crying to me when you're 75 and wishing you had just a couple more weeks on this earth to spend with your grandkids. I won't be listening. Me and my clash-footed family will we skiing in Fiji, charming the pants off the natives.