The Sock Puppet Guide to Saving the World, part 1

 

I’m sitting across from my friend Nicki. She’s still combing the city to find her boyfriend’s wife’s boyfriend, Bob. She’s convinced, more than ever, that her boyfriend Tom is leaving out chunks of information and that Bob can help her fill in the blanks.

I suspect she is also bored at work.

“How’s it going,” I ask, hoping to hear that she’s met a few nice single men along the way.

“My life is a dramedy of epic proportions.” She pauses dramatically. I say nothing. “All the bald guys went to the Hamptons for the summer.”

“Are you sure he’s bald,” I ask. I have my doubts.

“Tom calls him the hairless wonder.”

“Maybe he looks like a pig.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Or a hairless cat.”

“He sounds bald.”

“You spoke with him?”

“No.”

“Then, how do you know?”

“Tom did an impression.”

“What does bald sound like?”

She frowns and eats a piece of cheese.

“I think he’s looking for me, too. He knows we can help each other.”

In the violent blink of an eye, I’ve gone from unemployed to employed, my dog developed a strange and unsavory barking habit, the vegetables in my refrigerator rotted, and I feel the thunderous claps of sudden and unpredictable change in the air.

Maybe the universe is opening up, touching each and every one of us where we need it most. Whether we like it or not.

“There are a lot of bald men in New York City.”

“There are a lot of bald men everywhere,” she nods, eyeing the hairlines of every man at the bar. “Maybe I should start riding the subway.”

I wish wine bars served martinis.

***

While I was cleaning this past weekend, I found one of the sock puppets I made in San Francisco in my sweater drawer. It was Young Ellie staring up at me with a wicked grin on her face, as if she was up to something naughty. I folded my sweaters and placed them in neat stacks. She tucked herself further into the recesses of my drawer, and when I slid it shut, I swear I could hear her giggling. Perhaps she has a crush on one of my sweaters.

Later, when I was sipping my morning coffee, I wondered what the world would be like if we kept our sock puppets on our hands, instead of in the corners of drawers, suitcases, and closets.

It might get a little hot during the summer, and the drama between sock puppets often reaches a fevered pitch, but if all that anger, selfishness, greed, fear, love, hope, and desire could be expressed through our fabric friends, patterned or plain, new or used, clean or permanently sneaker-stained, I bet we’d laugh a lot more and fight a lot less.

I suspect that sporting a sock puppet in our everyday lives would help us take ourselves a little less seriously.

And that might be a good thing.

***

“I swear it’s like he never listens to me. I tell him I like red and he buys me blue. You know what I mean?”

“What?”

“Earth to Amy…”

“Sorry. I was just thinking.”

She purses her lips with a disapproving glance. “You think too much.”

“Maybe so. Do you ever make sock puppets?”

“Are you drunk already?”

“What do you think the world would be like if we all used sock puppets to talk for us?”

“You mean to tell our stories?”

“And feelings and thoughts and beefs and complaints…”

“It’d be hard to do things like cut steak or repair jewelry.”

“We could work that out.”

“Maybe Bob makes sock puppets.”

“He probably also gardens.”

“What happens when the sock puppets get dirty?”

“Stick them in the washing machine.”

“They’d lose an eye.”

“Hand wash, then.”

“Better.” She pushes the last piece of cheese around the cheese board. “I bet people would laugh a lot more.”

“That’s what I think, too.”

“And that might be a good thing.”

The waiter, thinning hair, but not yet bald, asks us if we’d like another round. Without even looking at each other, we answer in unison.

 

“Yes.”

 

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