A friend on Facebook recently posted about how he liked the feeling of putting on new socks and said he’d only buy new socks and throw away his old ones from now on. I’m not sure whether he’s serious about this or not, but what’s important is it sparked a strange memory of an “X-Files” episode for me.
And that memory sent me down quite the rabbit hole in terms of Internet searches and scrolling through episode recaps on Hulu.
The only things I remembered from the episode were that Mulder and Scully were hunting a man who was tall, lean, and wore his dark hair short – and he had a mustache. I also remembered him saying something about liking how good it felt to put on new socks, and remembered him being in a store after it was closed. None of these things were much to go on in terms of having the Internets help me out! Especially when I put in the word “socks” in my search terms. Sites selling (you guessed it) X-Files novelty socks would invariably clog the feed. I didn’t really explore what X Files socks actually looked like, but if I were going to buy them, I would want socks with tiny packages of Morley cigarettes on them, maybe the inbreeders from the controversial episode “Home,” or socks with the Lone Gunmen on them. Was it just me or did the long haired blonde one look exactly like Garth from Wayne’s World? Were they long-lost brothers?
But I digress. I attempted to scroll through episode synopses online without much luck. It was only when I queued up Hulu that I finally hit some pay dirt while scrolling through Season 6 episodes. Episode 17? Bingo! The plot description included something about a dangerous prisoner who could pass through solid objects, so I decided to re-watch the episode, which originally aired April 11, 1999.
You can read better X Files plot synopses pretty much anywhere, but the gist of the episode is a guy named Pinker Rawls is imprisoned in some redneck state (Alabama or Mississippi) and he’s on some kind of work farm. The inmates are all wearing striped uniforms like you’d see in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou (I thought they seemed a bit old timey, but Hell, maybe that’s the look Chris Carter wanted for the episode, who knows). Tornadoes blow through, and the guards lock him inside an outhouse sized enclosure while the winds are blowing, despite his protests. He is presumed dead when the tornado subsides, but when a prison guard is killed by being severed in half, well Mulder and Scully are of course called to investigate.
Late that night, a security guard at a store called Val-U something or other reports detaining a shoplifter who got away from his handcuffs. Pinker went into the store earlier to get clothes, since when he uses his superpower that lets him pass through solid objects by changing the objects’ molecular structures he has to be…naked. So he goes into this very odd store, which is basically a grocery store, but also sells clothes. So like a mom and pop Wal-Mart, I guess? You can tell when he’s putting on the new clothes he’s enjoying it (unsure whether he puts on underwear as well or if he’s going commando, the show did not make this clear), but he gets the most joy when he puts on (drum roll) – socks. It’s just a pair of ordinary white cotton men’s socks that come in a package of six – you know those kind that Grandma – or your mom – probably bought you for Christmas at some point in your life. If mom or Grandma really loved you, she sprung for Gold Toe socks, which IMHO – are among the best socks you can buy for your money. Take this from someone who’s worked in a department store for a couple of minutes (more like decades)!
The look of joy on his face while he is putting on the new socks is palpable:
Pinker’s joy at getting his feet into brand new socks is short lived, as he is on a mission. Long story short, we think at first he wants the money he stole from a wire service office a few years ago and stashed at his girlfriend’s place, but he is actually looking for his son, whom is named Trevor – and was born while he was in the pokey. And the reunion is every bit as creepy as you would imagine. He is living with his aunt, who attempts to use a glass pot of hot canned chicken noodle soup to dispatch Pinker. Anyone else remember when those glass pots and pans were trendy? Whatever happened to them? I’m guessing something horrible involving explosions or lawsuits (again, I digress).
But every superhero and villain has their Kryptonite, don’t they? Well Pinker’s Kryptonite is glass. He can’t pass through glass or mirrors. So when his ex-lover’s sister or his ex lover (don’t remember who was driving) runs him over with a car, his head goes splat through the windshield, though the rest of his body just passes through the car. So that was the story of him.
Well? What are you waiting for? Go out and buy some socks for someone you love for Christmas! Look for Gold Toe for casual/dressy wear or Smart Wool for people whom are outdoorsy!