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7:19 PM Wed, Jan. 16th

Williams column: I’m giving up socks for lint

I’ve found that life is a decision-driven experiment. Some of our decisions shape the fame and fortune we may (or may not) reap. Other decisions are less weighty, but, nevertheless, must be carefully crafted to reduce backside friction as we slide through life.

In the third grade, I had to decide whether to ask Mary Lou Weatherly or Margaret Westin to the Harrison Hill Elementary School Spring Festival in Ft. Wayne Indiana. Later, in decisions over academic subjects, I chose humanities-related coursework over the science-based stuff, such as chemistry and physics.

Well, I’m on the cusp of yet another life-affirming judgement call. I’ve decided to give up socks for lint. I’m not sure if I can sustain my resolution, but I intend to give up socks for about six weeks.

This socks/lint decision isn’t a whim. My exhaustive research reveals that lint tends to accumulate in three primary areas: dryer screens, the navel and pockets. And I suggest that socks are among the major fuzz fabricators.

My sock obsession isn’t new. In January of 2014, my column titled Your Guide to Safe Socks confirmed that socks are among the most unreliable clothing accessories. Some of you may have heeded my warning. The rest of you can stew in your own (sock) juices.

Since my recent hip-replacement surgery, I’ve been unable to put socks on since I can’t bend over far enough to grasp the damned things. This inability has introduced me to a new-found sock-less freedom. I can now waggle my toes without encumbrance whenever I feel like it. And think about this; if we wore fewer socks, there could be more sock monkeys in the mall. That trade-off alone has to be beneficial to mankind.

I started this column talking about life decisions that impact one’s life trajectories. I have no idea what decisions Georg Steinhauser of the Vienna University of Technology may have made in his formative years. He’s a chemist who has spent four years studying navel lint. I kid you not.

Georg can tell us why belly button lint forms even though none of us ever really wanted to know. According to his scholarly efforts, abdominal hair grows in concentric circles around the navel. The scaly nature of these hair follicles scraping against clothing causes static electricity which attracts lint into the belly button.

I contend that, in most cases, where there’s lint, there’s a sock. But the lint danger is greater than you might think. I’ve read that lint presents a threat to the environment in spaces that normally do not experience human contact. Lint buildup is one of the primary pollution agents in cave exploration of all places.

For some reason, the research does not explain how lint arrives in caves. You should also know that three scientists delivered a technical paper on “Lint in Caves” at the 1993 National Cave Management Symposium. The abstract of that presentation reveals that uncontrolled lint accumulations in caves is a potentially disastrous situation, but again, did not explain where the lint comes from.

All these cowardly researchers were evidently afraid to state the obvious – cave lint is most likely the result of errant socks hiding in the dark recesses! I’m here to tell you that we can reduce the lint threat by adopting a sock-less lifestyle. We can do this, people!

If you feel that this column has justifiably alerted you to a significant present danger, pass the word along to your friends and relatives.

Wil Williams, a resident of Chino Valley, is a retired advertising agency executive who served in the U.S. Army. Contact him at