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Home » Books & writing

Tell Me a Story About…

Submitted by on January 9, 2010 – 10:45 pm 33 Comments

Watercolor by Victoria Beckert

While I didn’t love Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage (read my review here), I really liked this one activity she described doing with her lover Felipe. No, not that kind of activity; it’s more a storytelling exercise.

She’d ask him to tell her a personal memory built around a trigger word, a random one from the top of her head. When she asked for a story about fish, Felipe told a poignant tale about fishing trips with his father when he was six.

I wanted to try this out so I asked hubby to give me a random word. He said, “Socks.” I immediately went to a memory of when I fled Vietnam at the end of the war and my mother said I could bring only the bare essentials. I brought one change of clothes but forgot socks.

So I wore the pair I had on when we left—white bobby socks with a red flower embroidered on the cuff—for over two weeks, until they turned brown with dirt and stiff with sweat. They could stand upright by themselves. I eventually ditched them somewhere and went bare in my Mary Janes the rest of the way.

Hubby and I used several more trigger words and told each other stories, some about things we hadn’t thought about for a long time. It proved such an interesting exercise, I decided to try it out here.

Tell me the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “socks.” It doesn’t have to be a long or life-changing tale. Any random thought or memory qualifies. I just want us to flex our creative muscles and learn fun things about each other.

If I get a lot of comments, this might be a regular feature, maybe once a month or bi-monthly, with a different trigger word each time. But meanwhile, let’s talk about socks!

33 Comments »

  • Poncho says:

    OK. This one changed my life… Kinda.

    A few months ago, when I had to rent a tux for one of my best friends’ wedding, and I was one of the “best-men” (or whatever). I had to buy a tux-shirt because the one at the rental didn’t fit me (I’m short and broad-backed ’cause of the fly-style swimming I did back in the day). And then, I noticed there were special socks for tuxedoes and I bought them also.

    The morning of the wedding (the ceremony was in the evening) I recieved a phone call telling that the last of my grandma’s brothers had died so I went to see her with all my “costume” packed to change later, because I didn’t want it to wrinkle up. My uncle lived in Guadalajara so all I had to do was keep my grandma company since she couldn’t travel for the services.

    At one point, we got hungry and decided to go to a restaurant to have a bite. There, I noticed my watch had stopped a couple hours before and I had about 30 minutes to get to the church. So I took my clothes from the car trunk and changed in the bathroom in about 5 minutes… except for the damned nylon tuxedo socks, which look like stockings, and took me another 10 minutes -each-.

    I arrived there sharp, and having learned a valuable lesson. I will never get angry at a woman again if they are running late, and wearing stockings.

    Thanks PCN. That was really fun!

  • Jen Forbus says:

    First of all, Poncho, that story is GREAT! I love it.

    The first thing that comes to mind with “socks” isn’t necessarily a “memory.” It’s more like a here…in the present…almost every day type thing. I keep my clean socks in a laundry basket and about two or so months ago, my cats decided they really like my socks. So most days I come home from work with pairs of socks throughout the house from where the cats had pulled them out of the basket and dragged them off to play. They discovered the dirty laundry in the basement one day and I came home to dirty single socks throughout the house. They had dragged them up the stairs, through their cat door and to various locations throughout the house. I had to start keeping the basket of dirty laundry on top of the washer where they couldn’t get it!

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Your cats are mischievous! Have putting your laundry on top of the washer helped? I wouldn’t be surprised if they find a way to climb up there, too.

      I changed my post to say the first “thing” that comes to mind, not the first “memory.” Thanks for that.

    • Christine says:

      Yeah, I’m betting that putting the basket on top of the washer is a challenge they’re considering taking on. 😉 Could have been worse than socks though, Jen. While visiting my parents, I see their retriever coming up the stairs from the guest room proudly carrying her quarry, one of my bras. Apparently, she thought the underwires made fun chew toys! Ha! I learned quickly to either keep my suitcase zipped or the bedroom door closed.

      Pets, the little stinkers, you gotta love ’em.

      • Pop Culture Nerd says:

        Haha! “Underwires make few chew toys” is an instant classic. I think that holds true for men, too!

        Your story reminded me of when I was visiting friends and had my suitcase on the floor. One day, I found their dog, one of those tiny little ones, completely inside my suitcase, with his nose in my underwear. I kept my suitcase zipped after that, too.

        • Christine says:

          There! I think this kind of domino effect is another fun aspect of this exercise! My thought or memory may then trigger another for you. And I love the potential benefit for a relationship. Such as your “socks” memory: I would assume that your hubby knew of this pivotal time in your life, but maybe not this aspect of it. But in sharing it with him, it enriches his understanding of what that time was like for you.

          OK, I’m done rambling. ;0)

          • Jen Forbus says:

            Oh, I was trying to help my notorious reputation by keeping my recollection to socks. That isn’t the only thing they manage to drag through the house, though. So far they haven’t figured out how to get into the basket on top of the washer, but I’m sure they will eventually.

            They are VERY mischievous! One loves to knock things down off counter tops. You can’t leave a glass or open can/bottle around. It will definitely be on the floor in no time!

            • Christine says:

              Yes, in a lot of ways, our home is already child-proofed since we have to keep the cats from knocking stuff off and around. When we had our first cat, we had to close him out of the bedroom at night because he thought it was fun to knock the phone off the hook and then sit up there on the dresser and watch us until one of us got up to replace it! What a pistol. Although, at that time in the night we might have used a few stronger names. 😉

          • Pop Culture Nerd says:

            You’re absolutely right. It’s a great way to get to know people better. Hubby knows about my past, of course, but there’s no way one can know every detail about everything. This was one he hadn’t before.

            Please feel free to ramble here anytime. I really enjoy your contributions to these discussions.

    • Poncho says:

      Wow, Jen! I can’t believe putting the laundry basket on top of the washer actually worked. My dog always found a way to pull it down – until she grew old. Perhaps I should get smaller dogs next time instead of German Shepherds.

      • Jen Forbus says:

        The dogs can’t get to the basement. If they wanted to get it down they definitely would! The cats can’t figure out yet how to get on the washer with the basket there. It pretty much covers the whole washer top. I’m sure they’ll figure out something, though. They never seem to be at a shortage for trouble-causing ideas.

    • Love all these kitty stories!! Mine loves grabbing a pair rolled into the one, and grappling with it before tossing it down the stairs.

  • Christine says:

    Cats and kittens. That’s what first comes to mind for me as well. I worked in veterinary clinics for about 10 yrs and SOCKS was a common name for those felines born with white paws contrasting with their body color.

    What a great exercise, PCN! Enjoyed Poncho and Jen’s stories and looking forward to seeing what other people have to say!

  • le0pard13 says:

    You would have to pick socks as the first random word, wouldn’t you? I don’t have anything, really. Except that I have an exceptional talent for putting holes into them. On the toe, or the heel, I can bring them out. I’m hard on shoes, too. Thanks, PCN.

  • Lenore says:

    I once dated this guy who would NEVER let me see his feet. He always kept his socks on, no matter what we were doing. And I do mean, no matter what we were doing.

    One day, when he was asleep, I tried to slide off his socks so I could take a peek. What could be so wrong with his feet? Did he have six toes on each foot or something?

    Well, I never found out because he woke up and FREAKED when he saw what I was trying to do. We broke up after that. I think I made the right decision.

  • EIREGO says:

    Okay, no judging……

    We moved around a lot when I was a kid and it always seemed like I was the new kid at a school that didn’t take kindly to new kids. Consequently, I was always getting the crap beat out of me.

    Then came a time when we stopped moving and I actually got to stay in one house and one school district for a few years in a row. Unfortunately it was during the transition from junior high to high school and everyone got moved around to various schools in spite of the neighborhood you lived in. It didn’t matter who you had gone to elementary school with, they would not be the same as with whom you attended high school. I figured high school was going to be like being the new kid all over again even though I had now lived in the same town for close to five years. I got scared, but decided to no longer be a victim. I would practice beating up or “socking” some of the neighborhood kids in the face. This way I could gain practice and maybe develop a bit of a reputation. So, during my last year of 8th grade, each day I would rush home, throw my books on my bed, then run back outside toward school to catch some of the slower kids still making their way home. I went straight up to them all friendly-like and then just socked them square in the jaw. I got pretty good at it and kids began to avoid me like the plague. My reputation as a badass began to build. Problem was, the kids I chose as my victims were mostly the weaker and nerdier kids who didn’t fight back.

    I am not very proud of that part of my adolescence. I sent a lot of kids to the dentist that year, my parents received a number of angry phone calls and I got grounded quite a bit. I eventually got bored with the whole thing, but payback came to me when I finally entered high school and saw that almost every kid in my class was bigger than me and none of the kids in my neighborhood went to the same high school as I did. Now I became the punching bag. Which served me right and got me to change my way of thinking as far as picking on someone your own size. It was my turn to lose a few teeth. And I did.

    Odd, I know, but that is what I think of when I hear the word socks.

    • Christine says:

      I feel for you with your nomadic childhood, and I’m sorry you had such a rough time of it. In all our moves as an Air Force family, I was fortunate to attend only 2 “civilian” schools. When you attend an on-base school, all the military kids understand what it is to be the “new kid” so integration was a bit smoother and quicker than at a “civilian” school. One of those schools was during 8th grade, which in my opinion is just rough no matter where you are. I hated it. What made it even scarier was that was also the first time I’d ever witnessed aggressive prejudice between students.

      Just out of curiosity, did you realize it was “payback” at that time in high school, or was it just a same-s**t-different-day feeling and the hindsight didn’t kick in until adulthood? Also, did you ever see or get to know any of those kids in your neighborhood that you “socked”?

    • Christine says:

      P.S. Eirego – good for you, acknowledging and taking responsibility for your actions. Not an easy thing to put out there about yourself.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Wow, thanks for sharing such a painful and personal story. I’m sorry you felt necessary to sock other kids (I probably would’ve been one of them if you’d known me back then!) and sorry you then got hit later on.

      I hope everything’s been sorted out and there’s no more socking in your life.

  • The first thing I thought of was actually bed socks. An elderly relative used to crochet bed socks prolifically ~ it was her only hobby and she did it while watching her favourite soapies on TV. We had a constant stream of bed socks flowing our way for years and years when we were growing up ~ which was handy, because my sister and I would put them on, pretend we were Sonja Heini and Peggy Fleming {famous ice skaters from way back} and ‘skate’ around the carpet. We always wore holes in the bed socks, so the steady supply was much appreciated.

    This is a great idea, PCN!

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      I’ve never heard of bed socks but now I want some! What’s the difference between them and shoe socks?

      Thanks for providing that graphic image of toenails. Lenore was lucky to have failed in her mission.

      I’m glad you like this! Will you do it again with another word?

      • Bed socks just cover your foot ~ nothing comes up the ankle at all. Eccentric little thingos ~ or at least, that’s the particular design with which I’m familiar!

        Sure, I’m happy to play along whenever you want to do this free association ~ thanks, PCN.

  • Eddy says:

    For some reason, the word “socks” reminds me of going hunting with my dad when I was a kid. We would need to get up early and be in place in the woods before the sun came up. It was cold. One winter we both got electric socks for Christmas. If you don’t know what those are, they are wool socks with little wires in them and a battery pack attached to the elastic. Back then they used two “D” batteries and so they were a little cumbersome. The problem with them is that they worked too well. They kept your feet warm to the point where they were TOO warm and your feet began to sweat and you have to turn the socks off. Once your feet sweat and the cold sets back in, the electric socks aren’t strong enough to warm them back up again, so you end up worse off than if you had just used regular socks. I think that we each tried using them only once.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      I’ve never heard of electric socks, either, and want some of those, too! I don’t mind a little cooked flesh if they’ll keep my feet warm.

      I’m learning so much with this exercise.

  • Julien says:

    Great game and great stories, thank you guys!
    The only sock story that comes to my mind is long and not hilarious, plus I’m running out of time!
    But I’ll try to play next time!
    And I think I will use the idea with my friends for long fireside nights!

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