December 1997
s m u g
bumping uglies
by Todd Levin


Catch Socks: The Vials Of Life

The first time I had the dream, I was 18 years old. In it, I am approached by three children (I knew it was a dream, because I saw once on a Mutual of Omaha special that children actually travel only in fours and fives, depending on how close it is to Christmas). In the dream, the children are surreally mutated and take the following forms:

  1. The first is a rather chubby athletic sock with cheeks as red as rubies and three gold stripes encircling his head, like celestial angel or a horribly deformed freak.
  2. The second is a young girl made entirely of soft, delicate paper. The paper appears in layer after layer, creating a complex semi-transparency, particularly as light hits her from behind. She has a sensitive nature, and her quiet touch against my skin is comforting, healing. Like a fifty dollar bill.
  3. The third child comes to me in my dream in the form of an empty can of Pringles® Butter 'N' Herbs potato chips. He disgusts me. Yet I feel a strain of unconditional love for him despite his rakish handlebar moustache, which seems to mock me, dripping copiously with a swaggering sense of malfeasance and thesaurus.

These three astral creatures circle me, making the purpose of their visit very unclear. I remember thinking back to the first time I experienced this dream, as I tried to control the dream (something I often do, with varying degrees of success, but would not recommend to the more feeble minded reader. Once, in a dream, I became strangely conscious of a desire to urinate. To control this desire, I dreamed myself a bowl of warm water in which to rest my hand for comfort and distraction. Yes, I still urinated all over the sheets, bathing myself and my bunkmate in a virtual river of warm, salty piss, but at least I remembered not to make that mistake again), about whether this was all perhaps another manifestation of my own desire to please my biological father, a stern man with a weakness for showgirls and salty snacks. Still, this did not explain the other two carnations. And then, as if in a dream (whoops!), they spoke to my dreaming self.

"Daddy," said the sockboy.

"Daddy," said the tissue paper cherub.

"You're not the boss of me, old man," said the feral Pringles child.

And I wake up in a cold snap -- puzzled, disturbed, craving salt. Recently, I asked my Christian Science Nutritionist (my Laconian therapist was nowhere to be found, and his answering service was cryptic at best) what this dream could possibly mean and, after a long pull on his "Church of the Holy Spirulina" fruit smoothie, he placed a bejeweled hand on my shoulder and said, "Todd, you just had a dream that nearly all American men have when they are experiencing a vague feeling of loss: you just dreamed of creation deferred, of semen lost. Your catch socks have come home to roost."


I have discovered that many people are not familiar with the expression, "catch sock." A catch sock, as defined by Miriam Webster's Dictionary of Naughty Words that British Schoolboys Will Get a Nasty Lashing if They are Ever Caught Repeating, is:

"Vernacular for any receptacle -- typically a sock, washcloth, Kleenex, or empty box of Mike and Ikes -- which serves to house the semen of an adolescent too embarrassed to ejaculate into his bedsheets or pajamas. The catch sock is particularly popular in the States, where young boys are taught to feel shame and confusion with the discovery of their own sexuality, not like here on this blessed plot, this merry old England, where repression and persecution have never been on the menu, as they say, and the Good Queen Mother issues free Royal Family-Approved catch socks to all the nation's boys on the eve of their 13th birthday. Rah! Rah! Chip! Chip! God save the Queen, and such!"

The catch sock is as American as, well, Don McLean. It is an untold tradition for suburban teenagers across this great nation. Catch socks are so pervasive that they even have different regional names. My friend, Randy, told me that sometimes catch socks are called, "sub socks", named so because men confined for long periods to the tight walls of submarines often used a standard government-issue sweatsock to store God's sticky elixir. And in Montclair, New Jersey, catch socks are ubiquitously known as "Tina Calbrese" (much to the chagrin of Tina's parents). No matter the name, no matter the vehicle (note to self: never buy "slightly used" socks and Kleenex® from the homeless again), catch socks are all about keeping it real - keeping it real hidden from your mom.

My dream, it turns out, makes a lot of sense. When I was about three years old, around the same time I became sexually active, I was turned around and around with the notion that masturbating was wasting very rare progenerative life force, as it decrees in the Bible and on the back Mrs. Paul's® Fish Stick boxes. I had incredible feelings of guilt, not for touching my wigglies, or for putting lipstick on our cat and making her watch while I went at it, but because I was using precious life juice for rather self-motivated purposes, rather than contributing to the perpetuation of my gene pool. (In hindsight, I was pretty fucking haughty at the time to think the world was really going to be missing out on the gene pool of a kid who willingly masturbates into an empty can of Pringles®) I experienced deep feelings of loss as I flushed my dirty little Kleenex® jack-pack down the toilet, as if I were performing last rites on myself.

I will proudly admit, though, the days of catch socks are definitely over for me. Now, in the soundproof splendor of my private mountain retreat, I am free to ejaculate when and where I want without fear of repurcussion. No one is going to collect my sheets for washing, least of all me. While I still honor the time-honored tradition of inventive secret storage systems as pubescent boys evade parents, God, and the hope of looking back on puberty with a straight face, I cherish and celebrate my own seminal freedom -- often twice a night. And while I still have the "dream" on occasion, and get a little bit depressed every once and a while, nostalgic for the only bodily fluid that can at once give life and fill an Oreo cookie (does anyone know anyone who has actually done that? me either.), it eventually passes. And, perhaps out of habit and perhaps out of fear of self, I have taken to storing my Pringles® in a Rubbermaid® bowl. Never can be too safe.



in the junk drawer:

November 1997
October 1997
September 1997
August 1997
July 1997
June 1997
May 1997
April 1997
March 1997
February 1997
January 1997

and such
and such

The Chankstore

·feature· ·net worth· ·bumping uglies· ·smoking jacket· ·ear candy· ·feed hollywood· ·target audience· ·three dollar bill· ·compulsion· ·posedown· ·the biswick files· ·mystery date· ·and such and such· ·blab· ·kissing booth·

·contents· ·freakshow· ·fan club· ·junk drawer·

copyright © 1996, 1997 fearless media