The world is divided into two types: Men who love socks and dudes who don't much care one way or the other.
Count George H.W. Bush and Justin Bieber in the "sock men" category. Me too.
On the Today show this morning, on the occasion of his 88th birthday, the former president told his granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager, "I like colorful socks."
"Biebs? Is he a sock man? I don't know much about The Bieber. I never see him, I don't know what he does," Bush said.
That's been no secret to Houstonians who have seen the elder Bush around town. He wore a pair of wild pink socks when greeting fans at January's Chevron Houston Marathon and donned a pair of red-white-and-blue striped socks when he endorsed Mitt Romney at the Bush home in Houston in March. During the unveiling of an official portrait of his son, George W. Bush, at the White House last month, he wore a pair of similarly striped socks in patriotic colors. (The former president's socks are more noticeable because he is often seated in a wheelchair during public appearances where his ankles can be seen more easily.)
During the Today interview, Bush admitted the yellow argyle socks he had on were much more modest than what he normally wears — "subdued, you might say," he remarked.
Hager noted that pop sensation Bieber also is known for wearing colorful socks, but the former president was not impressed. "Biebs? Is he a sock man? I don't know much about The Bieber. I never see him, I don't know what he does," Bush said.
When it comes to socks, though, I can relate. During trips to Paris, when I was covering the runway shows, I stocked up on distinctive socks made by the French manufacturer Achile at the Bon Marché department store (the French make the best wild socks). I also look around at United States stores, although the selection is not as distinctive.
In addition to socks in wild colors, I have socks with a zebra bearing a paintbrush (to disguise himself as a lion), pink flamingoes amid a green background, an eye chart, plump penguins and smiling monkeys. For Halloween, I wear ghoulish socks that play a scary tune and at Christmas, I put on socks patterned with decorated trees and wreaths to get in the holiday spirit. It sure beats a holiday sweater!
Invariably I receive a compliment for my sartorial sock sensibilities from the most unexpected sources. A while back, when the august Federal Reserve Branch building opened on Allen Parkway I wore my most conservative (boring) gray business suit because I didn't want to stick out among the banking crowd.
During the ceremony, I crossed my legs and inadvertently flashed a bit of wildly patterned socks. "Nice socks," the otherwise severe-looking older man on my left remarked.
And then he raised the hem of his suit leg to show a hot pink sock. Instantly, we were comrades in sockdom. It's a bond that will never fade away.
See former president George H.W. Bush talk about his love of socks: