See, I have this odd little habit of removing my socks while I sleep - especially those little ankle ones that go so well with converse and sneakers. I was first made aware of this a few years ago on a trip home to visit my parents: "You're only wearing one sock!" my mom said one morning while I stared at the gurgling coffee maker. "Is that some kind of fashion statement?"
"I have no idea" I replied.
I imagined myself at night, sitting bolt upright in the middle of a dream and, zombielike, ripping one sock off in a fit of panic and flinging it across the room.
The reality, I've found, is a little less interesting. It seems I am a bit of a nighttime thrasher, and the action of my feet rubbing against the sheets often pulls my little ankle socks right off.
Now what does my silly sock removal story have to do with the universal anomaly of disappearing socks?
Foreseeing some degree of sock hemorrhage, I packed every single sock I could find for my stay at home. However, once I arrived in Minneapolis, they started disappearing at an alarming rate. My 10 pair population of ankle socks dwindled to 8 pairs, then 5 pairs and two unmatched, then 3 pairs and 4 unmatched, until finally I found myself with one maroon sock, one black sock, one dark green sock, one light green sock, and one faded yellow sock. An uneven number of socks, all in clashing colors.
"You're wearing two different colored socks!" my mom said as I made lunch one afternoon, "is that some kind of fashion statement?"
It was not.
I went to Target and bought some new socks, all the while wondering why a mere two months at home was enough to ravage my dwindling sock population.
In a frenzy of cleaning following the Great Centipede Invastion of 2011 (oh yeah, it was bad) I found the answer. While vacuuming under the bed, I started to hear a strange noise coming from the nozzle. Pulling it out, what do I find but a maroon sock - the maroon sock I hadn't seen in over two months. Peering under the bed, there they all are, a little cornucopia of socks, all lined up on the floor between my bed frame and my bookshelf.
And here is the answer to the question of the lost socks, at least for me. It is not the dryer, or an sneaky sock elf.
It is an under-bed black hole.
After the socks fall off in my sleep, they migrate to the foot of the bed (a commutation also encouraged by my nighttime thrashing), and are caught in the pull of the under-bed black hole, sensitive only to the particular quantum signatures of unmatched socks. There they are sucked past the event horizon between the bookshelf and the bed frame, never to be seen again.
Until, of course, I vacuum. But we all know that only happens only once every eon or so.