“Sometimes you have to lie. But to yourself you must always tell the truth.”
-Ole Golly in “Harriet the Spy” by Louise Fitzhugh
Today on my drive to work, I saw a young man driving around downtown on a chic, slick moped. He was dressed in a business suit and I wondered about the wind blowing dirt onto his suit jacket.
He was smiling.
And when I glanced down towards his feet I saw that above his black shiny professional loafers, he wore bright purple socks.
I loved “Harriet the Spy” when it first came out. I loved the idea of being able to hide and watch what everyone else did without them seeing.
Spying seemed like the perfect survival tool.
I started my own notebooks, it was completely goofy I know. I was jealous of Harriet’s other tools; the vintage binoculars, the rotating flashlight, that yellow rain slicker.
But it was the boy in the purple socks that always had me fascinated. Who was this boy? Why did he never talk? Why did he wear purple socks? In the movie, it’s never really revealed, although in the book he explains that his mother wanted him to dress in all purple to stand out, but he talked her down to just the socks.
And yet he stands out anyway. To me at least.
Before I read the book (one of the few book-to-movie renditions where I saw the movie first) I used to theorized all sorts of things about the boy in purple socks.
Sometimes I wondered if he was like me. He didn’t really want any attention, but he didn’t want to be invisible. So he compromised. No talking, but wear purple socks. I wondered how else he could be like me.
And today I wondered about a businessman who would drive a moped and wear purple socks. It seemed exactly what the boy would grow up and do.