He's been telling me for a year now that I care about him more than he does. I have to admit, now, that it's true. That is why, this afternoon, I changed his socks.
Taking a shower today (and any day) is a big deal. Going from being dry and clothed to being wet and bare is a drastic change, and it's hard to handle. It takes a willingness to be vulnerable, to be alone, to confront yourself. Sometimes, it's a painful process, but it's what we do. It's what we all have to do in this world, once in a while. So he did it today, but he couldn't take off his socks.
He walked from the shower, soaking his footprints into the carpet on the way to my office. He has been wearing those three pairs of socks for three months.
"These socks are just fine."
"They're wet. They're going to freeze when you go outside."
"I've been doing it this way all along."
"You'll get frostbite."
"If I take off my socks, my feet will fall apart."
"No, your feet will fall apart if you don't take off your socks."
"I'm not changing them."
And now, because he fears the change of his socks more than he fears frostbite, and resists exposing his feet more than my disapproval, he embarks on a valiant attempt at a filibuster, going on and on about something totally unrelated. And I wait. And I wait.
And he pauses, thinking.
"Just tell me when it's my turn."
And he continues. And I wait.
And now he stops.
And I hold up three pairs of new, thick, black socks. And I say,
"Dean, are you going to do this, or am I?"
He starts to talk again, and chews relentlessly on a handful of cough drops, because he can't bear to acknowledge what he is about to expose. But he moves back in his chair, and lifts his feet.
And one by one, I peel off his tattered, soaking, salt-stained socks.