I have a pair of magical socks. Each one is beige with vertical stitched ribbing - a perfect match. They are the most monogamous hose I have ever owned; it's been almost a year now that they've been together.
Their supernatural powers were proved beyond a shadow of a doubt during a recent burglary at my home. The thieves, who snubbed my color TV, personal computer, and quadraphonic, eight-track stereo-recorder complex, made a beeline for the dresser. There, the fiends gathered up every ball of neatly rolled hosiery (but one) and proceeded to divest each conglomeration of half its assets , namely one sock. The surviving pile of useless unmatched stockings was left huddled in the rear corner of the drawer. If 50 percent Orlon and 50 percent wool could talk, what yarns of horror they would spin. The bandits departed, as they had entered, through the naively unlocked front door. And this wasn't the first time.
The Missing Sock Unit of the local police was magnificent. It had seen it all before: the outrage, the sense of violation - the comically dressed victim with one ankle adorned in Ulster orange and the other forest green. The officers dusted the bureau for fingerprints but, as they suspected, only mine turned up. It fitted the national pattern - another clueless sock caper.
''What about an All-Points Bulletin?'' I asked in desperation. The police tried to suppress knowing smiles. Wanted: person or persons with 12 unmatched socks - they'd have to haul in most of North America for questioning.
Like many modern crimes, hosiery heists do not seem to have any rhyme or reason to them. Police have never nabbed one solitary perpetrator, nor have they ever recovered a single stash of errant Argyles. Researchers at Cal Poly Ester have found a correlation between stolen stockings and deposits at Salvation Army clothes bins. Critics point out, however, that these socks are probably the unmatched orphans left behind by the thieves and donated by burglary victims.
Many victims report missing hose only to discover that they have, in fact, the same number as always, although all are unpaired. Criminal psychologists conclude from this that the marauders may be distributing their ill-gotten cotton during subsequent break-ins; i.e., they take a certain number of socks and leave the same number of mismatched hose from a previous job.
Even with so much sock-snatching afoot, President Reagan still proclaims with his usual aplomb that crime is down in America. I urge the President to go personally each morning to his dresser rather than sending David Stockman. I'll wager Mr. Reagan would find that those new concrete barriers outside the White House have not affected stocking terrorism one whit.
And if he's truly interested in lowering federal deficits, he can start by paring down Nancy's sock budget. A nice symbolic touch would be for the President to declare that from now on he will wear unmatched Argles rather than use the taxpayers' hard-earned money to buy 365 pairs in fiscal 1985. If the nation follows suit, it could start a fashion revolution equaled only by the introduction of the loincloth.
There is another solution: Don't ever take off you favorite pair. Remember my two magical monogamous socks. . .