OK, I got started back up on this one because I was attempting to joke around with one of my music partners, Lesley--she runs the folk group I play in known as Silver Branch.
I have no idea whatsoever as to why this came out of me; perhaps it was the sheer trauma of the situation. So I will hold forth:
Back around the late seventies, and extending into the early eighties, I was working at two music stores, one of which I started working at when I was 18 years old. I bounced around the two stores, but the primary one was a small, highly-developed boutique guitar store: Oh, you know, we sold Fender Custom Shop guitars, Valley Arts guitars, and so forth. It was a helluva shop.
So, one day I am working said shop and I get this, er, rather disturbing phone call. After I do the greeting, I get a question, with a rather creepy voice behind it:
"What kind of socks are you wearing?"
Now, I don't care who you are, but when you get that kind of call, off-rip, it creates a certain sort of internal confusion. Should I answer him? It is just that disarming.
I looked down, because I actually was not sure what kind of socks I had on. I discerned that I was wearing sneakers, and white athletic socks. So, I answered--"White."
He said "OK, fine," and hung up.
You can imagine what rolls through ones' head at that point. This, in the middle of conducting business.
My boss, owner of the biz showed up to relieve me, and I was clearly remaining in a slightly disturbed state. He asked me what was wrong, and I told him of the phone call. He said "Oh, that's just the Sock Guy--he calls all the time. You just have to tell him what kind of socks you are wearing and then he leaves you alone."
As the time progressed, six years, this went on. Actually, the more honest you were about describing your socks, the quicker the engagement was. You kind of got used to it after some time. And, he was quite polite; most times he even thanked you--very professional on the phone.
Eventually I discovered that our store was not the only target. There were at least 3 or 4 other unrelated businesses in the area that he was calling. I guess he had a call list, or something.
After awhile, we all kind of got used to the routine.
And then, it just stopped.
I don't know what ever happened to the Sock Guy, but in a certain respect, I admire his artistry.
Never Looked At Socks The Same Way Again
Rich Engle fancies himself a Renaissance Man
He studied and worked with Nathaniel Branden, the founder of the self-esteem movement and longtime collaborator with author Ayn Rand ("Atlas Shrugged," "The Fountainhead," etc.). He gave up his career as a corporate marketing executive because he hated business and wanted to pursue his writing and musical goals--relocating himself permanently, 2 years ago, from Cleveland, Ohio, to Ft. Myers, Florida. This was done after completing an original album with his group "On The Air." He wrote the preface for, and was highly involved in the editing process for the book "Icons and Idols: Pop Goes The Culture," by Victor Pross, Canada's most favored and famous caricature artist (which includes the story "Sal's Diner," edited by Engle and included at the end of the book).
Throughout 2010, he was the principal guitarist at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers, Florida, where he worked as part of a praise team supporting not only the existing praise team, but many guest ministers, including Naomi King (Steven King's daughter), and Michael Dowd (the leading exponent of evolutionary Christianity in the world).
Currently, he plays (along with his wife, singer Darlene Passarella) in the folk group "Silver Branch," and in a guitar duo team with 19-year-old music prodigy Manuel Carjavale.
He has been writing on Internet philosophical forums for about twenty years, and is currently seen on www.objectivistliving.com , a site where he has resided for many years.
He is mounting a manufacturing company with his longtime childhood friend James Gates, called G-Custom Designs. Their initial product offering is a groundbreaking, low-cost sustaining device that improves virtually any guitar.
His philosophy: "It took the Universe about 13 billion years to create humans; a way of the Universe contemplating itself. Between that and the fact that you are made of nothing more than burned out stardust, carbon . . .well, you have to at least try and take that shit seriously."