How My Relationship to My Bathroom Towels Changed for the Better

As a young man I treated my towels like unloved servants: they were meant to pick up my messes in any room, to care for my sometimes unkempt body and generally hide my lack of manners and hygiene. This state of affairs continued for years.

I think part of the problem when I was younger was that I did acquire my towels so much as collect them. They were hand-me-downs from my parents or something I grabbed on sale at Target when the old ones started to smell funny or have stains I couldn’t remove. One man’s trash can be another man’s treasure, but unappreciated treasure quickly becomes trash.

In My Foolish Youth:

  • I didn’t even bother having a set of dish towels. – When I was out of paper towels, I’d grab a towel from the bathroom.
  • After a shower, my towel might end up anywhere: my bed, my couch, the floor between my bathroom and bedroom. It depended on how much of a hurry I was in and if I was enjoying a bit of air-drying.
  • I often marveled at stains, but made no attempt to remove them. If it didn’t come out in the wash, then I would think of it as a sign of how exciting my life was (perhaps part of me thought of the towels as analogous to the Portrait of Dorian Gray: the stains and scars of my life were transferred to the towels and allowed me to age unblemished by my excesses).
  • I rarely had a complete set of towels for guest. If I hadn’t done wash lately, then a quick run through the dryer with a dryer sheet was pretty much the best you could expect from me.

In sum, I treated my towels as if they were disposable and had little to do with me as a person. The only reason this changed is because I received a rude awakening-literally-from a houseguest.

I am Chastised…

She’d been a friend of mine for years-really just a friend–and came to visit me in Chicago. My apartment had one bathroom and the morning after she arrived she took a shower and then did something that would change my life.

She told me she was going to use my room to get dressed. This was fine because I needed to hop in the shower myself. 15 minutes later, I reached out of the shower stall and discovered there was no towel for me to dry off with. I scrounged around and considered using my clothes to dry off but they were soaked because I hadn’t closed the shower curtain fully. I called for Dana to bring me a towel and a few seconds later she replied that she couldn’t find another. My response was, “give me the towel you just used”. She did and I proceeded to dry off, get dressed and get ready for the day.

I would have written this off as a funny moment, but I found out the next day that this even had changed my relationship to my friend.

I’d planned to wash my towels after the incident, but forgot to do it that night. I also forgot to properly close the shower curtain again, so the next day the entire scene played out again-but this time Dana didn’t give me her (my/our) towel. Instead she lectured me about hygiene and maturity. warp knitted towel