Small Talk

For the love of dishtowels

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 fine of a gift certificate to Home Goods,” 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 dishtowels be used as dishtowels — not oil rags, guinea pig dryers, juice mopper-uppers, sweat swipers or grease catchers.

Need I point out they are called dishtowels for a reason. But I will stretch their job description to include drying clean hands. Oblivious to all this, my spouse simply refuses to treat my color-coordinated kitchen towels with respect. No matter how many fits I have pitched, I cannot convince anyone to limit use of the carefully selected, terra cotta-colored towels that perfectly match my kitchen tile and took me months to find.

Nice man that he is, husband remains unable to distinguish these lovely creations from the bag of torn and stained towel scraps I keep in a separate drawer, just for all those sticky, staining, greasy, grimy, corrosive cleanups our fill our life.

In one stroke, a fetching dishtowel goes from a decorative accent piece to an addition to the ragbag. He even uses my beauties in place of the paper napkins I keep tidily available in the attractive, woven napkin holder on the kitchen table. It comes down to “whatever absorbent thing is closest when I need it,” theory and, well, I just can’t take it anymore.

Oh sure. Scoff! The problem does not stop there. My family has the same inability to distinguish between that pile of cleanup rags under the sink and the, again, perfectly matched bath towels 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 his daughter’s paintbrush, it’s toast.

Now, I don’t really want to divorce my family over my towels. Instead, I have a possible solution, other than putting my linens in a combination safe. How about secondary “bridal” showers every five years or so? The gifts can also include replacements for missing dishes and flatware that have migrated to the sandbox, the workbench and friend’s cars. And we could all use a set of glasses that actually match, no?

I promise no party games.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who just wants to live like a cover of Bon Apetit. Contact her at