Welcome friends. Today we take a harrowing journey, a journey upon which many younger tribesmen have never embarked. It is a journey fraught with hazards and obstacles, so much so that one wonders how any of our travelers ever make it. It is the curious migration of untamed clothes from the warm safe confines of the laundry room out across the open home to the more permanent habitat, the drawer.
The first leg of the adventure is the shortest and the clothes, still warm and fluffy, are seemingly unaware of their new surroundings as they tumble dazed, like a cat after a nap, into the basket. The sun rises over the landscape of central suburbia. Gatherers prepare to forage at the local markets and box stores. Hunters ready for the daily kill. In the far corner of the domicile a buzzer sounds, alerting the tribe that the clothes are preparing for migration. Most tribesmen ignore the puzzling sound until, driven by need, one member takes on the load. Jarred from their gentle tumbling, items cling together cautiously as the clothes wander out the open door, instinct taking over.
Behaviorists offer no theory as to why the flight instinct seizes many members of the sock species, in this early phase of the trip. Nevertheless, like lemmings into the sea, several socks attempt to leap to freedom, preferring to take their chances in the wild than continue safely to their drawer. Sadly, many of these creatures end up in a rodent’s nest or lodged under a hot water heater, and, as they mate for life, the errant sock’s partner too has no place in the drawer. So with a few initial casualties, usually unnoticed by the wranglers, the basket arrives at first camp: the folding table.
The folding and sorting system is as old as the tribes themselves; the method of procedure often passed down from generation to generation. Segregation is still du rigueur in all tribal households, clothing separated by gender, color and even size. Once folded and sorted, the clothes are at their most vulnerable, unprotected and at the whim of younger tribesmen. No clothes are safe from rifling, but athletic wear is often the most vulnerable to attack; often captured, put to use, and hampered, bypassing the drawer altogether. Older tribesman may protest this abuse, urging the young ones to use caution and patience, to show the clothes respect before using them for sport, but that is a lesson taught by experience.
Next, the clothes return to the basket or separate into smaller groups depending on the size of the herd and their pattern of migration. The clothes are momentarily safe, sheltered in the smaller confines of the basket and often overlooked by predators as they prepare for the final leg of their journey. Upon their arrival at the drawer, the clothes break into even smaller units and once again prepare to serve the tribe. A responsible tribesman will put the clothing to use until it is damaged or too old to work, then pass it on to a charity drop or rag bag—using every part of the material.
With that, the journey is complete. The clothing waits in the confines of the drawer until it is needed to provide warmth or cover. After its use, the trip begins all over again. The effort may seem futile, but in the sartorial world it is what these items are made to do. Join us again next week as we explore the journey of the elusive toilet paper roll from cupboard to spindle. It should prove fascinating as it is a journey that, while relatively effortless and simple, very few children or male members of the tribe have ever made.