Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Big fluffy towels

I like big fluffy towels. I enjoy using them when I need to stay in an upscale hotel for work.

I saw an American student steal one from a small hotel we stayed at in England years ago. Her parents were picking up the tab for her to attend Ithaca College and participate in their semester in London. They had rented a harpsichord for her so she could practice that semester but had apparently neglected to provide her with a big fluffy towel.

For three years in Senegal I used pagnes, two meters of cotton fabric that serve as skirts, bathrobes, and towels. They dried me successfully after every bucket bath I took as a Peace Corps volunteer and shower I took as a Fulbright fellow.

In the US I use towels I buy at thrift stores. Sometimes I find two that match.

My mother found a barely-used big red fluffy towel in a dumpster. Its only crime seemed to be that it had gotten wet. She washed it and offered it to me when I visited the next summer; I gladly accepted.

I enjoyed the big red fluffy towel until it disappeared the same day the maintenance crew calked my tub. When I couldn’t find any sign of either my towel or greater dementia over the next few days, I stopped by the apartment manager’s office and mentioned the missing big fluffy towel. I learned that the maintenance workers had used it to clean up the tub calk. “Instead of the small, worn out, torn one hanging next to it"?! The manager bought me a big tan fluffy towel as a replacement.

My neighbor at the time made frequent trips across the landing with plates of high fat comfort food. He occasionally brought other things: pots and pans after he bought a new set, various jugs of cleaning supplies that didn’t meet his high standards, and a big white fluffy towel. Its only crime seemed to be shedding white fuzz during its first few washings.

I loved my two big fluffy towels. But I was doing laundry more frequently: each towel took up almost half of a load of sheets and towels. This took more water, more soap, more electricity, and more time. My washing machine developed a tendency to become unbalanced, thump like a blown front tire, then expire into fixed and damp silence. When I went to resuscitate it by rearranging the now very heavy towel, I smelled the strain that washing my big fluffy towels put on the washer’s belt.

Pagnes did a fine job of drying me after bathing in Senegal. Thrift store towels do a fine job of drying me in the US. Big fluffy towels are resource intensive, move perfectly lovely people to crime, and are irresistible to maintenance workers.

If anyone would like two big fluffy towels, only slightly used, they are at the Idaho Youth Ranch Thrift Store on Orchard Street.

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