Jiggs Foonman, a gifted mathematician working on his PhD at a prominent European university makes a startling discovery which he proposes to his graduate committee for his research topic.
"Babe... can you please look in the dryer and see if there are any socks left in there?" Jiggs girlfriend Beelzebeth called out to him from the bedroom of their small apartment near the university.
"Sure Sweetie... Be just a minute," Jiggs was stashing papers he had graded the night before in his pack, determined to be on time for the eight o'clock class he was teaching in the Biomathematics department. His head was spinning as he tried to focus on the presentation he was scheduled to deliver to his graduate committee later in the day. He hurriedly checked the dryer, and found no extra socks.
He went to the bedroom where he found his Beelzebeth, frustrated with a pile of socks on the dresser. "What's the problem Beelzie?"
"As usual, I can't find mates for all of them, Beelzebeth said.
Jiggs set his pack down on the bed, picked up the pile and tossed it on the bed, "Sorry, don't have time to go through them this morning... busy day." As Jiggs spoke, he noticed, on top of the dresser where the socks had been, seven ballpoint pens. Unsure why, the pile of socks drew his attention. He returned to the bed, and began separating the socks, matching pairs, and setting unmatched socks apart. There were seven.
Then it hit him! He looked again at the little collection of pens on the dresser. No pencils... no fountain pins or markers. Then, just under his breath, "Seven socks... seven ballpoint pins." His new research proposal began to take shape in his mind. "Ballpoint pens are a stage in the life cycle of socks." Jiggs lined the socks up on the bed, and beside them the pens. He photographed them and quickly scribbled some notes on a dirty handkerchief with one of his newly acquired ballpoint pens, hoisted his pack to his shoulder, and kissed Beelzie, then headed out the door.
His excitement grew as he pedaled toward the university.