by Beth Boswell Jacks
I could hardly close my suitcase.”
~ Yogi Berra
I was folding towels this morning, and you know how we do – the folding is rote, and we don’t even think about what we’re doing.
Fold once. Fold twice. Flip and fold a third time. Nice and neat. Stack and put ‘em on the closet shelf. There are many talents I don’t have, but I can flat fold a towel.
Folding hubby G-Man’s towels takes no time because his are new, thick and fluffy. Mine take longer because I like old, thin, raggedy wipers that always have threads hanging off the hems, which means while I’m folding I have to keep scissors nearby to trim the threads. Trimming adds a minute or two to the procedure but the end result is satisfying because, while I like old towels, I don’t like loose threads clinging to my wet body after a shower.
But anyway, I was thinking about this while I was folding the laundry, thinking how I’ve been married to G-Man for almost 42 years, wondering how, after all these years, we haven’t gotten to the point where we agree on the texture and weight of towels. The good thing is that by the time my towels are completely worn out, G-Man’s towels have been scrubbed to the nub and are then suitable for me. I get his hand-me-downs; he gets new ones.
I never fail to be amazed at the small peculiarities that make a marriage work.
But as I made my way through the pile of clean laundry today, I began to contemplate the value of towels, those wonderful strips of cotton terry cloth that serve us well. They get no respect. Oh, sure. If you’re like G-Man you’re ticky about your luxurious, absorbent cloths, but when all the drying is done, they end up where? On the bathroom floor. And sometimes on a rainy day they’re used to clean the wet dog and the tracked-in mud. Or if anybody’s nauseated, they . . . yes, they come in handy.
And nobody even thinks to appreciate the comfort they give us – with one exception.
Author Douglas Adams, a British writer who went to his great and untimely reward in May, 2001, once emphasized the importance of towels. In his most well-known book titled “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Adams pointed out the varied uses of a good towel – you can “wrap it around you for warmth,” lie on it on beaches, “sleep under it beneath the stars,” “wet it for hand to hand combat” and “wave it as a distress signal.” (All that in addition to drying drips after a sublime bath.)
Adams’s devotion to the lowly towel is one reason his fans established an International Towel Day, which is coming up in May. Of course, I was not aware of International Towel Day until I decided to write this piece. A definite perk of having a weekly column deadline is that I’m forced to branch out into new areas of knowledge and research.
It’s a good thing, this International Towel Day. We need to educate ourselves about low-twist yarns, pile and loop heights, bands and ribs, pucker and pull, longer staple yarns, and antimicrobial features, you know?
Throw out all the other uses for towels and that one is good enough to keep a shelf full, freshly laundered and ready to be put to the task of serving humanity.
Bless ‘em, every single fiber.
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