Unbundle Your Socks

I lost something. I lost it a long time ago. Well, “lost” may not be the correct term. It’s more like it was taken from me. Yet, even “taken” is not the most accurate way to describe what happened. In the end, I gave it away. What was it? It was my love for electro-funk. That’s right, electro-funk.

I was with my friend Ted Shaw. Ted and I were very different people. Ted had two older brothers who were always working on their muscles cars. I had two sisters who were always working on their ballet. Ted smoked. I did not. Ted was a metal head. I was not. Ted was tough. I was not. Ted had these massive forearms. Mine were still in the development phase. We were very different. But, in the sixth grade, we were friends.

Ted had invited me to come along with him to his church’s sleepover. We were traveling to the off-site location in a school bus packed with all the other kids from his church.  We sat by his friends. They were a bunch of older high school guys. They were big. They had facial hair. They were decked out in leather jackets, patches and Iron Maiden, ACDC, and Black Sabbath t-shirts. For most of the bus ride, there was an endless exchange of one guy starting a few lyrics of a song, another guy finishing the lyrics, while the other guys played air guitar and whipped their hair around in a frenzy.

I had nothing to contribute so I just kept quiet. That is, until someone asked me “What kind of music do you like?” With that question, their commotion came to a halt. Everyone sat quiet. I looked up at them with a smile. I was excited to share. I was happy someone invited me to participate. “I love Midnight Star,” I said.  They just stared at me and said “Who?”  “You know”, I continued, “They sing No Parking on the Dance Floor and Freakazoid.” There was still no reply. So, I started to sing a few lyrics. “If you don’t get a move on this body, I will be forced to give you a ticket – so get with it!”

Understandably, Ted’s friends just lost it. They started laughing uncontrollably and rocking back and forth in their bench seats. Ted just dropped his head. I went back to being quiet and looked out the window. Then I felt it – SHAME. It was not the first instance of shame I had experienced nor would it be the last. However, it is one of the more memorable ones.

In an effort to avoid shame, I began to strip away my individuality. I abandoned the things that I loved but did not fit in. I smoothed out the edges of my personality – nothing was allowed to stick out. I did anything and everything to avoid feeling that feeling of shame again. The kid who loved electro-funk started listening to other music. The kid who loved to dance, he stopped. The kid who had crazy curly hair begged for it to be cut short.

But, you know what, that kid was funky. I want to know that kid again. Layer upon layer of expectations may separate us, he may be huddled in fear deep inside of me; but, I am determined to reclaim him. Starting this blog is part of the process. It is an exercise in vulnerability. Each post gets me closer to him. How do I know? I get scared. When the voice inside me tells me to retreat and to leave well enough alone, I know I am on the right path. With each post, I loosen the shackles of shame that bind him, that bind me, that separate us.

However, while I am busy loosening my shackles of shame, I may be tightening my son’s. Dillon use to wear different color socks. His socks never matched. Whenever I asked him “Why?” he would just smile and roll along. He did not have a care in the world about what others thought. I admired him for his tiny act of audacity. Yet, I may have taken that from him. How?

I like my clothes folded in a particular way.  I match my socks up and bundle them together. Naturally, I fold his socks the same. Spiderman sock goes with Spiderman sock. Green sock goes with green sock.  Red fire truck sock goes with red fire truck sock. Through the mundane task of folding clothes, I have become a conduit through which society has let its expectations be known to my son. You should always wear matching socks. Without knowing it, I may have stolen some of his electro-funk.

I need to go unbundle his socks. I wonder if I have the courage to unbundle mine.


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