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Small Talk: The devil is in the dish towels

“And on what grounds have you filed for divorce, Mrs. Gillette?” the judge asks.

“Dish towels, your honor,” I grimly state.

“Divorce granted and a $5,000 fine,” the female judge shouts.

I do not ask for a spotlessly clean or professionally decorated house. I do not ask for white rugs or even that my car fit into the garage. All I ask is that my matching dish towels be used as dish towels — not oil rags, dog dryers, juice mopper-uppers, sweat swipers or grease catchers.

They are called dish towels for an obvious reason. But I will stretch their job description to include drying clean hands.

Oblivious to all this, my husband simply refuses to treat my color-coordinated towels with respect.

No matter how many fits I have pitched and times I have explained the situation, he cannot or will not accept there is a separate use for the half-dozen, carefully selected, terra cotta-colored towels that perfectly match my kitchen tile and hot pads and took me months to find.

He (and our children, as well) remain unable to distinguish these lovely creations from the heap of old, torn and stained towel scraps I keep in a separate drawer, to be used specifically for those sticky, staining, greasy, grimy, corrosive cleanups our life seems filled with.

In one stroke, he turns my dish towels from a decorative accent piece to torn, tattered and discolored creatures that must be banished to the “other” drawer.

He uses my beauties in place of the paper napkins I keep tidily available in the attractive, woven napkin holder on the kitchen table. He operates solely on the “whatever absorbent thing is closest when I need it” theory.

The problem does not stop there. My family has the same inability to distinguish between that pile of cleanup rags in the upstairs linen closet and the, again, perfectly matched bath towels, which I fought for at an annual white sale.

They believe that if it is within reach and will suck up spilled sunscreen, wipe polish from shoes or clean the paint off a paintbrush, then, by George, grab it.

OK, I don’t really want to divorce my family over my towels. Instead, I am trying to do some creative problem solving.

I am considering a new tradition of a secondary “bridal” shower. The gifts might also include replacements for the service for 12 everyday china now reduced to service for 4½, and the eight missing spoons and four bent knives from our everyday tableware that somehow migrated to the backyard and the workbench. And we could all use a set of mugs or wine glasses that actually match, no?

I’ll even make that keen ice cream and soda pop punch and, I promise, no party games.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer wondering how she landed in this family of heathens. Contact her at [email protected].

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