Saturday, November 1, 2014

Throw in the Towel


Dottie Fitz knew it had to be her son and her husband who always soiled her towels.  She did not have a single presentable hand towel left from her two sets.  She refused to have a dark brown hand towel upset her tranquil bathroom.  But now her once lovely towels, soft and luxurious in sand and teal colors were left with immovable streaks and smears of dark brown and black from her son and husband.

Dottie sifted through the pile of towels at the bargain store and could not find a match to go with her two carefully chosen sets.  She had been to Macy’s, TJ Maxx and now she was at Tuesday Mornings, her last hope of finding towels to match her sets.  She couldn't afford to buy whole new sets.  She had saved and asked for those towels as presents for her birthday and Christmas, which were close enough together that she usually got one gift for both occasions.
Her hand rubbed a rough surface and she looked down to find an ugly, starchy, barren white towel in her hand.  This would show every speck of dirt.  She was about to toss it in the discard pile she had created when it hit her.  This was the solution, this horrible, scratchy, white towel.  At $1.99 she could afford to buy two of them to prove her point and save the next hand towel she bought, when she could find one for her beloved sets.

Her husband Tom had laughed at her when she had returned home from the laundromat distraught and upset about the permanent stains on her favorite teal hand towel.  The edge had a wonderful rope twist with teal and sand mixed together and the towels were still so fluffy and luxurious but now only the very center, where the towel hung on the rung, was the original teal color.  The rest was varying shades of dark brown and black.  It tore at her to see it destroyed like that.  She had launched herself right into the family room and waved the towel at Tom.
“It’s a towel.  It’s meant to clean your hands.’
“No, it is not meant to CLEAN your hands it is meant to dry your already clean hands.  The soap and water are meant to clean your hands!”  Dottie had screeched, louder and crazier than she intended to.

He had never understood what her bathroom meant to her.  It was the one part of their trailer that was a fulfillment of her dreams.  She did not have a house with a nice yard.  She and Tom had a trailer with only the parking space next to it.  Dottie’s whole life she had thumbed through her mother’s Better Homes and Garden magazines and imagined what her house would look like.  It had never been a trailer.  She did not begrudge Tom that they lived in a trailer.  It was a choice they made together.  She wanted to be home with the kids and the part time work she did at the local library and her two weeknight shifts at the Rite Aide allowed her to be home with them after school but was barely enough money to do more than pay to keep the truck running.

Every extra bit of money that she could save went into making their bathroom the bathroom oasis of her dreams.  When Dottie was in there it was as if she lived in the house with the yard.  She could relax and escape in her bathroom.  But not with stained towels.

She hung the white towel on the rung in the bathroom and then hung the second one inside the door under the sink.  Her plan was in motion.  At the dinner table she would challenge the boys knowing Tom and Dan would eagerly jump at a challenge against her and Brianne without even asking what it was.  The challenge would be to see who could keep their white towel cleanest.  The boys’ towel would be the one out on the rung in the usual spot, she knew if that was the girls towel they would use it out of habit and convenience.  She had also made the girls towel a bit harder to get to so the boys would not accidentally use their towel; out of sight out of mind. 

If the boys lost they would no longer be allowed to use the towel that would hang on the rung they would have to use the one under the counter or the dish towels by the kitchen sink.  If the girls lost then they would suffer the same fate.  Dottie was sure the girls would not lose.  She had secretly marked the tags on the towels with a 'b' and a 'g' to be sure they did not get switched.

By the second day of the week-long challenge her husband had to concede that it was probably he and Dan who had ruined her hand towels.  Dan and Tom spent the rest of the week working on washing all the dirt off their hands before using the towel. 

Dottie loved that they were trying for her, especially when she knew that they did not understand why she was so worked up over a towel.  Tom thought the new white ones were just fine.

The next week there was a flyer in the mail from Bed, Bath and Beyond and on the cover was a towel set that looked just like her beloved teal ones.   It was a sign.  She grabbed the 20% off coupon and headed out the door.


  1. Love your narration style!

    1. Thank you. I was warming up for Nanowrimo with a couple of short stories and this one really spoke to me. Probably because I would like to ban my husband and son from using my guest towels!

  2. I can't understand why guys (typically) would be in such a hurry that they would half wash their hands and dry still dirty hands on a towel. A towel should be relatively clean after use since in theory the handwasher would be drying off totally clean hands.

    My wife and I are both pretty meticulous about the cleanliness and presentable appearance of all of our towels whether they be for guests or us.

    Nicely written. I like the BB&B ending.

    Tossing It Out

    1. Thanks for visiting. I wondered if this story was a bit too anal but I am glad to hear that it is something everyone (at least those who have commented (I have it on Wattpad too)) can relate to.

      If only my husband and my children were so careful. They use the towel to wipe off the dirt.