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Charlie Hatton
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The Terrycloth Truth

There are some issues that don’t come up early in a relationship. In the early dating phase, everyone’s on their best behavior. We sit up straight, use the right forks, and keep all of our little foibles and imperfections firmly under wraps, never to see the light of day. As far as our datee is concerned, we’re as good as perfect:

“Poop? Who poops? I don’t poop. Oh, I used to poop — and it smelled like honeysuckle blossoms, obviously. But I gave it up during that time in the Peace Corps when I was helping orphaned starving babies escape rabid Nicaraguan lions. All that stopping to freshen up the jungle was really slowing down the relief work.”

We can keep this up for a while. But eventually, reality sinks in. You were never in the Peace Corps. There are no lions in Nicaragua. And the closest you’ve come to saving a baby from a rabid animal is the time you told your crying nephew to ‘take it like a man‘ when a toy poodle licked him at the pet store.

But your sweetie doesn’t know that. Not right away.

(Maybe the ‘Nicaraguan lion’ thing. Let’s be honest; you’re laying it on a bit thick there. Dial it back a notch or two, there, Indy.)

But over time, if you stay together — eat together, talk together, live together, read Encyclopedia Britannica entries on Central American fauna together — the truth will come out. You’ve got your issues. You can’t hide them any more; you’re simply not perfect. Nobody’s perfect.

Take my wife, for instance.

Oh, she fooled me for a while. Quite a while, actually — years and years. But gradually, ever so slowly, the facade crumbled. Her crafty subterfuge and misdirection could only hide the truth for so long. The dead, stinky cat is out of the bag. I know my wife’s haunting filthy secret:

She has no taste in bath towels.

“We carry a wide assortment of towels with highly-varying degrees of utility, absorbency, frayitude and ghettoness.”

(I know. It’s shocking to see it just written out bare-faced like that, isn’t it? Scandalous.)

Here’s the thing — every morning, my nearly-but-evidently-not-entirely-perfect wife gets up at the crack of five. Or six. Quarter to eight, I don’t know. Some ungodly hour when only farmers and chickens and walk-of-shamers should ever be awake.

She grabs herself a towel and washcloth from the linen closet, and — because bless her heart, she’s still pretending to be sweet to me, after all these years — she gets a set for me, as well. When she’s done with her shower, she leaves a fresh towel and washcloth on the sink for me to use when I get up. Hours and hours later, when most humans find it convenient to be awake.

I should probably say a word about our bath linens here. My wife and I have been together for a long time — through thick and thin, fluffy and threadbare, luxurious and ratty. Those aren’t our times, of course; those are our towels. And for some reason, we seem to still have most of them. We carry a wide assortment of towels with highly-varying degrees of utility, absorbency, frayitude and ghettoness. Some are old, some are new, some are borrowed, and some have apparently been used to clean up toxic spills or ‘chamois’ down the dog after a good roll in… something. Dirt? Poodle plop? Barfed-up Alpo? I’m not staring directly at it long enough to find out.

(My wife assures me it’s “probably just nail polish remover”, after a small spill emergency she once had in the bathroom.

My response: “Probably” just isn’t good enough in a situation like this. Typhoid Mary “probably” felt well enough to work. The Trojans figured there was “probably” nothing in that big honking horse statue. There are “probably” house cats in Nicaragua that look like vicious lions, if you see them out of the corner of your eye.

So yeah. Those towels? Dipped in dog shit until proven innocent. That’s my policy.)

None of this would be a particular problem — assuming you don’t consider harboring putative terrier turds in your hallway closet, which is a whole other ball of something I don’t want to know about. See, I fold the towels and put them away. And I’m very strategic about it. Good towels out front, old thinning towels on the bottom of the stack, and the ‘poodle plop’ culprit I stick way in the back, on the bottom shelf. With tongs. Hidden under a box of Q-Tips.

But when my wife picks them out, she just grabs whatever she grabs. She’s got no plan. No strategy or forethought whatsoever. She just yanks towels out of the closet willy-nilly, as though this isn’t the most critical decision in the history of our life together.

And then I get up and take a nice hot shower, reach for the towel and find some ratty pink rag, woven poorly by indentured Thai schoolchildren back in the ’60s, and possibly — “probably?” — befouled by some dank hairy beast with a diet of horse meat and Beggin’ Strips.

That’ll suck the Pert right out of your shampoo, let me tell you.

I’d think she’s just doing it to torture me — because, duh — but no. On the towel rack I’ll often find another old scrap of cloth just like mine, freshly damp and smelling faintly of shower gel and Lady Remingtons. So she’s pinging us both, only — she doesn’t care. She remains fully and completely indiscriminate in her choice of bath towels. A fact which, if I’d discovered while we were dating…

Well. We’d still be married, I think. This isn’t a ‘dealbreaker’ like bad taste in something important, like beer or sitcoms or whether the toilet paper roll goes overy-undery or undery-overy. But I’d have made some adjustments, that’s for sure.

Like burning all our old towels, and setting up our wedding registration at Bed, Bath and Two-Ply Combed Egyptian Cotton Towels Unbesmirched With Shepherd Dung.

(Seriously, it’s probably nail polish remover.


Permalink  |  1 Comment

One Response to “The Terrycloth Truth”

  1. Greg says:

    Great Post…Funny I do the same thing with towels, clothes and pretty much everything at those ungodly hours that only farmers and chickens are up.

    It does show your dedication and faithfulness to your wife for putting up with such errant behavior.

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