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Small Talk: Towels get no respect

“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 dishtowels be used as dishtowels — not oil rags, guinea pig dryers, juice mopper-uppers, sweat swipers or grease catchers.

They are called dishtowels 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 dishtowels 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 tattered towel scraps I keep in a separate drawer, to be used strictly for all those sticky, staining, greasy, grimy, corrosive cleanups our life seems filled with.

In one stroke, my dishtowels go from a decorative accent piece to torn, ragged and discolored creatures that must be banished to the rag bag. I am battling the “whatever absorbent thing is closest when I need it,” theory.

Oh sure. Scoff! The problem does not stop there. There is 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. 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. I am simultaneously grinding my teeth and trying to do some creative problem solving. I have found a possible solution, other than putting my linens in a heavy combination safe.  I am currently working to launch a tradition of a secondary “bridal” shower. We need to be able to register just like new brides, and rely on friends and family to replace the entire stock of stained and damaged dry goods.

Too much? I’ll even make that dandy soda pop and sherbet punch and, I promise no party games.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer giving up on having her kitchen on a magazine cover. Contact her at jgillette@