The Day I Discovered Socks Were Optional by
(62 Stories)

Prompted By Turning Points

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Life before my Great Sock Liberation Day, as I call it with a yawn-inducing lack of drama, was a symphony of socks: cotton, wool, nylon, ankle, crew, knee-high – they were, as the Old Testament might say ‘a plague upon my house’. Every morning for me was a ballet of fumbling and frustration, battling those pesky tubes of fabric onto my sock weary feet. It was the Sisyphean task of my existence, pushing socks uphill only for them to mysteriously vanish later into the Great Dryer Void.

Then bam! One day I visited Cape Cod in the summer. Mashpee – not a particularly exciting name, I know, but Mashpee had a secret weapon: a summer time climate that mocked the very concept of footwear. Stepping onto their beach was like dropping into a warm, wet, sockless bath. My toes, perpetually imprisoned in their real and faux cloth prisons, reveled in their freedom. Sun, sand, sea, and…no itchy scratchy fabric constricting my tiny bottom-most phalanges. It was bliss. “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty I was free at last.”

Of course, the liberation wasn’t immediate. Years of my feet having been sock conditioned had instilled a personal Pavlovian dread of bare feet. The first barefoot steps on sun-warmed sand sent shivers down my spine, as if tiny friendly sand monsters were gnawing on my exposed toes. But Mashpee, in its gentle, sock-hating way, persisted in its seduction: each day, I ventured further and further barefoot as I went deeper and deeper into their sand-dusted paradise.

Suddenly, the world felt keener. The texture of the sand, the coolness of the tide, the prickle of stray blades of grass – all these sensations, muffled by socks for so long (too long) came rushing in. It was like literally rediscovering a forgotten or long lost limb: my toes tingling with newfound sentience spoke to me like never before.

Later and back in the cold, sock-enforced world, the change was profound. The scratchy wool became an irritant, the cotton a dulling agent. I started venturing out, me now a sock-less rebel among the sandal-wearers and sock-less loafer lovers. The stares from the majority of sock wearers I received were worth the toe freedom I now enjoyed.

Sure, there were bumps along the way – a rogue Lego brick, a particularly spiky pebble. But such missteps were a badge of honor, a reminder that freedom comes with its own unique set of hazards. And besides, what’s a little pain compared to the thrill of feeling the world, unfiltered, through my naked toes?

My Great Sock Liberation was not just about footwear, it was a philosophical awakening. It taught me that the most liberating experiences in life often begin with a simple single step outside my comfort zone, even if that zone happens to be a stifling wool or cotton or synthetic sock. It taught me to embrace the unexpected, the sand-gritty, the Scatterjack-infested walkabouts and to revel in the joy of feeling the free world around me, one bare toe at a time.

So, the next time you find yourself battling a stubborn sock, take a deep breath and contemplate the beaches of Cape Cod. Remember, freedom (and slightly bruised toes) await you on the other side. Do put some shoes on in the winter, though. Nobody appreciates frostbite toes, not even the most ardent of us champions of sock liberation.



Profile photo of Kevin Driscoll Kevin Driscoll
(Mostly) Vegetarian, Politically Progressive, Daily Runner, Spiritual, Helpful, Friendly, Kind, Warm Hearted and Forgiving. Resident of Braintree MA.

Characterizations: been there, funny, well written


  1. Kevin, glad you made that disclaimer about socks in the winter, nothing worse than wet ankles on a snowy day!

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    You found FOOT Liberation, Kevin. Quite the turning point, expressed beautifully, from all types of itchy, scratchy, different length foot coverings eaten-by-the-dryer to feeling the sand between your toes. It can be quite soothing (and sometimes good for the foot to move on such a surface – not mine; I have orthopedic problems that hamper me, but the socks also are binding). Good for you for turning in this new direction in Mashpee (an Indigenous tribe on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard).

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    You really did a great job describing the revelation of connecting feet to the earth–well done! That direct connection with the world around us–going barefoot, climbing a tree, lying down on the grass, wading in the water–is necessary and healing. Hard to understand how we are creatures of the earth without it, protected as we are in our world of plastic and concrete, and socks! Wish my feet didn’t get cold all the time so I could free them more.

  4. My hat is off to you on this one, Brother Kevin–but not my socks! I am securely and conservatively stuck in the traditions of the Kingdom of Sockdom. BTW you would fit in well in Italy, where I first noticed over 30 years ago that a lot of men went out without socks, even when wearing fine leather shoes.

  5. Kevin what a double feet/feat: a clever story about socks with such an unexpected topic that I read it to the end.

    I am envious of your perspective–one that finds meaning in all this.
    I spent my early childhood on our chicken farm and apricot orchard. Walking barefoot through chicken debris and spoiled apricot droppings tickled and massaged toes up to the ankles. My mother was always anxious that I would step on a nail–thus necessitating a trip to the ER. ( I regularly received the vaccination.)

    The consequence of 8 years of low-level nudity resulted in thick chapped toes and feet that barely had any feeling. A result of this I could walk on the yoga board of nails in Taiwan without screaming or jumping off–early.

    To this day I love to walk barefoot. When I take our springer spaniel out for her brief chores in the yard during winter or summer, I walk with bare feet.

    The shouts of objection to my bare feet behavior come not from my mother but from my wife who is annoyed with the sandy and wet sheets.

    While a professor I always played it fairly straight: I wore sandals without socks.

  6. Zeque says:

    Kevin, Great story. I’ve been a bare-footer most of my life and concur it’s much better. Socks on feet in shoes with heels…ghastly. Check out Xero shoes for those days you have to make concessions, and Badger Foot Balm is fine for achy calloused feet.

    Guy Davenport told me JBS Haldane said he moved to India because, “56 years of wearing shoes and socks was enough.”

    Looking forward to that first shoe-less stroll across a Spring lawn. Cheers.

  7. Jim Willis says:

    Kevin, your wonderfully spun tale of sock liberation gives me hope that my sockless days in Southern California weren’t the reason for my never being named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive. I have to admit, however, I do get some strange looks now that I’m living in Kentucky. At least I’m next door to a college town.

  8. Dave Ventre says:

    I have a sort of similar trait; I HATE being barefoot. I’ll wear socks indoors, but the idea of going out the door without decent footwear is anathema to me. And I may know why.

    One summer day as a small child I was on my front porch when my father drove past the house and parked down the block. As he started walking back towards me, I came off the porch and went running to greet him, barefoot. I’d gotten maybe ten feet when he urgently yelled “DAVID! STOP WHERE YOU ARE! DON’T MOVE!” Which I did.

    He ran up to me and lifted me off the sidewalk onto his shoulder, then told me to look down.

    Someone had broken a bottle on the sidewalk, which was littered with sharp shards of shattered glass. I had somehow managed to run into the center of this minefield without a single laceration. Had I seen the danger, it was unlikely that I could have picked my way out of it unaided, there was that much of it.

    I’ve been a firm footwear devotee ever since!

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