In My Ohio

​On the Importance of Shark Socks

Darren C. Demaree
​I own four suits at this point in my life. One of them is the first suit I ever bought as an adult; it’s black and hangs on me like it once belonged to my father. I can’t wear that suit anymore. Two of them (one brown and one light gray) I bought in anticipation of my first book being released, and I had tailored to my current size. They both fit well, and the light gray one especially looks good. I have one dark gray suit that I got this year to be a groomsman in my friend’s wedding, it fits perfectly, and when I put that suit on I look the best an adult me can look. I walk differently in that suit; it’s the closest I come to strutting. Sometimes clothes can make you feel better. They’ve never done a lot for my mood (I prefer t-shirts and jeans), but that suit makes me feel better. However, no matter how that suit makes me feel, it pales in comparison to how my son, Thomas, feels when he puts on his shark socks.
Thomas’s shark socks are green and blue (his favorite colors) and consist of dozens of eyeless sharks circulating around each size-three stocking.  Some of the sharks have their mouths open (those are the “hungry” sharks), and some of the sharks are just there swimming (those are the “almost hungry” sharks). He always wears these socks for two straight days, and you have to sneak them off of him to wash them. The particulars are silly and fun, but when Thomas puts those socks on he becomes something different.
When Thomas wears his shark socks he becomes an undeniable force. Thomas can almost fly in those socks. I know he can tackle in those socks. If I gave him a little motorcycle he could Evil Knievel in those socks. He has stood naked in those socks and pressed his body to the large front window of our house. I have a finished manuscript of poems entitled “Nude Male With Echo”, it’s mostly about male adulthood and aging, but on second thought, it might be about the way Thomas behaves when he wears his shark socks. He is more of a demonstration of humanity than a human when he wears them.
On Thomas’s shark sock days I always have a sneaking feeling that he might be the world’s greatest performance artist. This idea has been brought on by the fact that he tends to bow indiscriminately during those days. He learned that tactic from our evening storytelling experiences (where everyone bows when the story is finished), and now whether he sticks the landing or not jumping off of the bookshelf, he bows. He bows to the large piece of glass that has just briefly held his naked body, keeping it from spilling out on to our porch swing, and he bows to the neighbors if they happen to see him.
There just might be something to the idea that clothes can enhance your mood, and by enhancing your mood it just might create an environment where you can do extraordinary things. I feel successful, strong, and attractive in my best suit. When Thomas puts on his shark socks he feels like a superhero or perhaps a superior human that has been injected with the fearlessness of dozens of sharks. So, I don’t know what you might own that you consider your best, most inspiring article of clothing, but make sure you use it wisely. If you don’t own anything like that, if you just don’t care about clothes, my advice is to take a chance on something. Let yourself be tricked by something resplendent. Find your own shark socks. Hell, just buy actual shark socks. We should all have our version of shark socks on hand, just in case on a random Tuesday or in an anxious party crowd, you need to feel like you might just be more than you originally thought yourself to be.