February 5, 2009

Dear Clusterflock

Am I the only person who thinks white towels are ridiculous?

comments

  1. Lucy Foley on February 5th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    We all have our moments, Andrew.

  2. Cooper Renner on February 5th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I like white and off-white towels. I also like little towels. I use a hand towel after I shower.

  3. Cindy Scroggins on February 5th, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    We only use white towels–they seem cleaner and fresher and can be bleached. What don’t you like?

  4. Andrew Simone on February 5th, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    White towels (to me) scream, “I am trying to look rich because I can maintain there whiteness by (1.) have the luxury to clean them daily or (2.) I can afford a maid.

    Related.

  5. Deron Bauman on February 5th, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    perhaps functionally no. aesthetically yes.

    oh wait, in relation to how you phrased your question that makes it sound like I don’t like white towels. if that’s the case, allow me to clearly state my love for them.

  6. Lucy Foley on February 5th, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    As long as you don’t use them to wipe your arse, they should be ok. Even so, as Cindy says, bleaching is possible. I think the key thing is quality. Really good quality white towels, that can stay fluffy and robust for years. Without pilling all over you when you step out of the shower. New navy towels are wretched for that. You step out of the shower and by the time you’re dry you’re covered in little pieces of dark fluff all over you. It can be upsetting.

  7. Lucy Foley on February 5th, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    God I love that song.

  8. Cindy Scroggins on February 5th, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    That is so interesting, Andrew. I never imagined that anyone would equate towel color with status (or cleanliness with wealth, for that matter, except in extreme cases).

  9. Cindy Scroggins on February 5th, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Lucy, we are told on good authority that Michael Grant Smith can sing exactly like Neil Young. He’s part of the clusterflockstock lineup.

  10. Lucy Foley on February 5th, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    That song is just so devastating.

  11. Andrew Simone on February 5th, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Oh, and don’t get me started on the little pee mirror that always seems to be above the toilet.

  12. ryan on February 5th, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    i only own white towels. it is because i am better than most other towel owners.

  13. Andrew Simone on February 5th, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Or baskets filled with rolled white towels. They’re the worst.

  14. Cindy Scroggins on February 5th, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I agree, Lucy–subtle and understated, very sad.

  15. Daryl Scroggins on February 5th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Seems to me that white towels specifically lack pretense. Motels all use them and industrial laundry services wash them. What gets me are polyester towels that feel slimy–or that have cut outs of sea shells and shit sewn on them that are just scratchy. I like a towel that is rough in the way one is when it has dried on a line out in bright sunshine.

  16. Lucy Foley on February 5th, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Oh God I love towels that get like that. I think you have to have had a house of your own for years before your towels get like that.

  17. Rick Neece on February 5th, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Speaking of pee mirrors. Don’t know if it still is this way but at the Paramount in NYC the lobby men’s room was mirrored all four walls ceiling to floor. The urinals were like the size of a fruit bowl so you could see yourself and anyone in there with you a kabillion times over. Terrifying if you’re pee shy.

  18. Sheila Ryan on February 5th, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    When I am in the ring, my trainer mops me with white towels between rounds.

  19. Sheila Ryan on February 5th, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    It’s monogrammed towels that annoy me.

  20. Mary Jeys on February 5th, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I agree with you, Andrew, and bleaching is an agent of this prescription. Bleach is terribly toxic, especially to those of us with sensitive skin. I see your sensibility Daryl, with the lack of pretense in cheap motels, but I think it’s a desperate attempt to hide the truth of their seediness by claiming whiteness/cleanliness.

    I stay with my rainbow melange of towels which makes me alternately happy in nuanced ways depending on if it’s a pink/orange/seafoam day. That’s not to say that they aren’t clean and fresh and fluffy- but white, they aren’t.

  21. Sheila Ryan on February 5th, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    What about white sheets, y’all?

  22. Lucy Foley on February 5th, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Cheap motels aren’t necessarily seedy. Is it the cheapness of a motel that makes it seem seedy? You never hear about the truth of the seediness of the Plaza hotel, and that seems to me far more likely. And I’ve never bleached a towel, for what it’s worth.

  23. Lucy Foley on February 5th, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I have a white flannel sheet on my bed, as I write.

  24. Mary Jeys on February 5th, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I was thinking of roadside motels. Like the ones across the US that look just like the setting that No Country for Old Men scene. Whiteness in those towels I would imagine is a mask. To clarify I meant cheap and seedy- not that they are the same thing.

  25. Sheila Ryan on February 5th, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    This is turning into some kind of Moby Dick/Ahab thing. “Strike through the mask!”

  26. Andrew Simone on February 5th, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I confess that I have white, monogrammed sheets on my bed. They were a gift from my mother and I use them because my others, now thrown away, were old and ratty.

  27. Amy Mabli on February 5th, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    I like towels that are good quality, fluffy, and in colors that convey “freshness” like pastel greens, light blue, and especially white. Navy or brown colored towels do not convey a sense of clean freshness.

    Andrew, get the monogrammed sheets off your bed.

  28. Andrew Simone on February 5th, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    I agree (it’s a great point of embarrassment), but for what it is worth I cover them up with motley layers of old comforters. Nobody knows about them, but me. And, uh, the internet now.

  29. Cindy Scroggins on February 5th, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    I also prefer crisp white sheets, for the same reasons I like white towels. They’re fresh and beautiful. Cotton in summer, flannel in winter. I also like other solid-colored sheets, but only solid-colors–no patterned sheets for me. Furthermore, my favorite places to stay are cheap roadside motels. I once talked Daryl and Flannery into staying at a wonderful little motel in Sweetwater, Texas (I think it was called “Motel”). It had beautiful neon. I slept like a baby, while they each kept one eye open the entire night and made me promise not to do that to them again.

  30. India on February 5th, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Hmm. I’m with Andrew and Mary.

    White towels make me sad, and white sheets are even worse. Right now my lavatory contains an amethyst hand towel, a sky blue bath towel, and an orchid microfiber hair towel. The shower curtain is white with huge orange and olive spots, and the shower curtain hooks are decorated with pink and orange balls. My bed, meanwhile, is sporting hot pink sheets and a brown-and-white polka dot comforter. This is how I roll.

  31. Rick Neece on February 5th, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Andrew
    Ours are white, collected through christmas gifts over the years. I don’t bleach, but throw a scoop of Oxy-Clean in with the whites (towels and sheets). Some of our whites have now grown older (old!) and some are graying a bit. I bought a new set of towels in November for the guest room, thinking we’d hold them out for guests. Little by little they’re making their appearance every week in the laundry. Soon they’ll gray a little, like the others.

    Daryl, yes, I love the feel of towels hung out on the line. Mom used to do it. We don’t have a line, perhaps we should make one? We dry them in the dryer. And while they’re not “slick” they’re not “crisp.”

  32. Mary Jeys on February 5th, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Sheila, your comment made me laugh all the way from the subway. Behold, the whiteness of the towel! Perhaps there’s something in the horror of the white…

  33. Daryl Scroggins on February 5th, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Okay, a side issue here: cloth napkins. I don’t mean at a nice restaurant where you sort of expect them–I mean eating dinner at a person’s house, and you get a cloth napkin, and you know the host is going to have to wash them. They just always make me nervous, and I always vaguely feel like I’m wiping my hands on the tablecloth or drapes when I use them. Especially if I’m eating something like barbecued chicken (which I don’t eat anymore but have in the past). I just want to jump up and run away when that happens.

    And when you visit a person, and they have those special soaps in the bathroom that look like delicate little sea shells–do you really reach in there and lather up with those babies? Put them back in the dish looking more like a lavender turd now than a soap? Or do you secretly just throw it away or flush it? I should stay at home. I should pull the curtains and get under a blanket.

  34. Rick Neece on February 5th, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    One of the three biggest “fights” Danny and I had, over our 22 years, were over sheets he bought without my input at Dayton’s (long defunct) in Minneapolis. they were on the bed when I got home from work, white with a weak, thin green stripe. The details are now distant, but I didn’t like “the thin stripe.” I had to “take a walk” to calm myself at the end of a day when I’d had “too much going on” to “deal with it.”. I vaguely remember saying something like “How can you make such a decision without me?” Danny returned them the next day. Thankfully, we don’t have them on hand to go on the guest bed thinking, well, “we bought ‘em, we ought to use them.”
    And have a guest thinking “WTF?”

  35. Lucy Foley on February 5th, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    My uncle gave my mother a set of Harrod’s soaps, in 1986. They have remained in their green Harrod’s box since then. This time I came back from New York to see them unwrapped, the box probably thrown out, and the soaps sitting on either side of the taps, being used. Revolution. I have not asked about it.

  36. Sheila Ryan on February 5th, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Mary, you made my day. To have made you laugh all the way to the subway warms my cockles.

  37. Deron Bauman on February 5th, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I once left the sheets on a semester in college. who knows what color they were.

  38. Michael Grant Smith on February 5th, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Cindy, I’m not proud of everything I do.

  39. Amy Mabli on February 5th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    India, I love your bathroom and in it I would gladly pee, take a shower, poo, etc.

  40. Cooper Renner on February 5th, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Those big fluffy towels most of you like drive me to distraction. I’m little–I don’t need that much cloth. I really liked the thin white cotton towels they tossed me in the locker room at Gregory Gym at UT. You got a fresh one for a quarter.

  41. Lucy Foley on February 6th, 2009 at 7:29 am

    I like thin towels too, the super thin ones like they have in hotels in Italy. They absorb water incredibly well. I’ve never been a fan of the oversized towel, either. I cannot believe I am still commenting on this thread. I cannot believe I have more things to say about towels. I think I must be really avoiding something.

  42. Cindy Scroggins on February 6th, 2009 at 9:32 am

    MGS, if I could sing like Neil Young, I would be very proud. I guess that means that I would be proud if I could sing like Michael Grant Smith. Hell, brother, you’ve just hit the Big Time!

    And, India, your bathroom makes me smile. I love it. It’s kind of like my kitchen, only it’s a bathroom.

  43. India on February 6th, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Amy: If you come over to take a shower, I will make sure that you get the aqua washcloth with the yellow rickrack around the edges.

    Cindy: Exactly! Only in my house it’s also like the living room, and the office, and the dishes, and the clothes, and the jewelry box, and the bookshelves, and the tea towels, and the napkins, . . . It looks like a clown car exploded in here.

    Daryl: I promise to give you a (brightly colored or patterned) paper napkin when you come over for dinner, though I always use the cloth napkins when it’s just me. For barbecue or tomato anything, I would use a red napkin, but my favorites are the bright green ones with the striped grosgain ribbon edging.

    An aside: My mother is a great fan of red washcloths, since they don’t show lipstick. And she doesn’t have any white towels, either. Her shower curtain hooks are bright yellow duckies, which I gave her.

  44. Andrew Simone on February 6th, 2009 at 10:21 am

    I don’t have clothe napkins myself, but if you saw my pad you wouldn’t expect them either. That said, my very brief stint in France at friend of a friend’s house we we’re giving cloth napkins with different rings binding in order that we could tell them apart. I believe they were only washed every other day (unless the messiness of the meal dictated otherwise). This made sense to me.

  45. India on February 6th, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Just so. I don’t throw mine in the laundry until it seems cootieful. I rarely actually spill or wipe much on it—it’s mostly there for insurance. And habit. I get really bent out of shape when I’m in an eating situation where no napkin is offered. I’ll just sit there looking at the food, anxious, not sure how to proceed. I doesn’t matter how unmessy the comestibles in question may be; I just feel incredibly uncomfortable eating without a napkin.

    My parents were excellent trainers.

  46. Cindy Scroggins on February 6th, 2009 at 11:22 am

    I simply cannot eat food without getting it all over me. I’m not sure what it is–I mean, I understand the concept of opening my mouth and inserting food carefully into it. But for some reason, the food gets all over my face, all over my clothes, and all over my hands. I’m like a 2-year old.

    For this reason, despite my near-radical environmentalist views, I require several paper napkins per meal.

    I’m sorry.

  47. Daryl Scroggins on February 6th, 2009 at 11:33 am

    I only learned last year (and I have been around for a while) that some really fancy restaurants will give one a choice of a white cloth napkin or a black one. Apparently if you are wearing black or brown clothes, you might want a black napkin. Jesus. I only found out about this when a big deal doctor invited Cindy and me to dine with him and his wife at a place in Highland Park–a place we would not be inclined to visit otherwise. The food and wine were very nice, but the sudden choice of a black napkin struck me as an omen. The doctor and his wife were very nice people, and it was a pleasure to visit with them. But the place itself left me with a huge sadness–a sense that decorum was being viewed all around as the last bastion against the rabble at the gates. Lots of Money, and nobody seeming to be much the happier for it.

  48. Daryl Scroggins on February 6th, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Cindy can positively not eat an ice cream cone without getting it all over her. But I guess I’m kind of happy about that–it’s endearing. And once at a Kips Big Boy restaurant (I have probably told this before) she was eating a hot fudge sundae, and when a decidedly straight-laced just-out-of-Church family looked over at us reprovingly because of our high spirits, she painted her eyelids with fudge and gazed at them in a regal way. They quickly turned back to their salads of iceberg lettuce with thousand island dressing, and I thought of how vastly lucky I was to be with a person who would do such a marvelous thing.

  49. Dear casual readers of clusterflock : clusterflock on February 6th, 2009 at 11:47 am

    [...] As I’ve said before, come for the posts, stay for the comments. [...]

  50. India on February 6th, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Cindy, one of my best friends—and one of the smartest people I know—has that syndrome. Clearly it’s just a sign that your brain is working on more interesting things while you eat. For me, those minutes of concentrating on not getting food on myself are probably among the intellectual high points of my day.

  51. Mike Dresser on February 6th, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    White towels are beautiful because of their unsustainable nature. The first snow fall, the sunset, crystal stemware, young beauty. “Nothing gold can stay.” I suppose it’s human to want them all, yet it comes at a high cost as a lifestyle choice. My towels growing up were undersized, grayed with age, and stiff from the clothesline…I’m still ill-at-ease with enormous over-fluffed bath sheets.

    I currently own no towels and sheets, as there was no room for them in my suitcase. My new roommate loaned me a set, and we’ll see where I go from there.

    As for precious little bar soaps, these are a nuisance. I stick to the liquid stuff. Better living through chemistry.

  52. Dave Vogt on February 6th, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    off-white sheets, dark towels. My current towels are charcoal (or so they called the color, not that the color charcoal often resembles actual charcoal).

  53. Lucy Foley on February 6th, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Mike, I got some lead-cut crystal glasses in Junk in Williamsburg for 3 bucks each. It was not a high cost.

  54. Amanda Mae Meyncke on February 6th, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    The story about Cindy putting chocolate on her eyelids is so very beautiful. The word “regal” absolutely caps it.

    I have brown and orange towels, and gold satin sheets and comforters. I got satin pillowcases to help my curly hair not look horrendous in the morning, and eventually just gave in to the entire sheet/duvet idea.

  55. Dave Farris on February 6th, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    I might be ok with thses white towels, but they could make them in any color that pleases…

    http://www.muji.net/award/02/eng_nwpiece01.html

    I love to see the things y’all get excited about!!

  56. India on February 6th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Oh, Dave, that is brilliant. I would just buy them in white and then dye them.

  57. Aaron Winslow on February 6th, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    I don’t really have a preference as to towel color, just as long as they look fresh and unstained. I have similar feelings about sheets. In both cases, I prefer that the linens be of high quality and/or have amusing design features. I’d happily dry myself off with a fresh, soft NBA Houston Rockets towel made of a poly blend and then get into a bed with 600+ thread count cotton sheets in doodoo brown. Each case must be considered individually. Unfortunately, my need to evaluate these things on a case-by-case basis has led to a tremendous case backlog. For example, I still haven’t gotten around to deciding how I feel about a brightly colored, contoured towel I used in 2004. It just didn’t seem very fresh.

    White linens are just fine, but I don’t like using bleach either and I sweat a lot and have a greasy head which makes preserving the whiteness without bleach problem-y.

    I like cloth napkins, but don’t blow your nose in them. I don’t care how spicy the sauce is.

  58. Cindy Scroggins on February 6th, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Seventh Generation makes a good non-toxic bleach.

  59. Lucy Foley on February 6th, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    As does ecover.

  60. Dave Farris on February 6th, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    India – I know… so cool and such a simple idea. When you have a minute, have a look at some of the other muji winners. Some are so simple and obvious that it makes you want to smack your head “I coulda had a v8″ style .

  61. Rick Neece on February 6th, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Aaron, Danny and I just spewed. I read your comment aloud to him.

  62. Daryl Scroggins on February 6th, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Tiki Towels; Gray towels monogramed in burgundy thread; mermaids and colored bubbles applied to towels; gold metal thread edging black towels; beige towels with rope-stitched rope edging for a hem; towels with a triple embossed smashed-in pattern on each end, no matter what fucking color they are; towels that look more like hooked rugs than towels; checker-board towels with matching shower caps: No.

    I would like to see more towels that look like Afghan War rugs, with tanks and helicopters and AK47s on them. That is all.

  63. India on February 6th, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Yes! I, too, very much want a set of Afghan War towels. Daryl, you are a genius.

  64. Lucy Foley on February 6th, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    The ones with the pictures of the dead babies on them? The Wish Fulfilment Afghan War Towels, with high thread count and in-built fluffiness, with the pictures of the dead Osama bin Laden on them, smashed into pieces so you can see his insides clearly?

    Will we be dreaming this?

  65. Daryl Scroggins on February 6th, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    We have such a rug. The tanks and helicopters on it are Russian. The rug was made after they had retreated. I imagine the next wave of weavings will also not tell the story of vast powers prevailing over the “natives.” The first rugs should have taught us something important: when facing those who can weave sand into a rug fit for a King–don’t believe that they may be easily stepped on.

  66. From the Comments : clusterflock on February 7th, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    [...] Aaron Winslow: I don’t really have a preference as to towel color, just as long as they look fresh and unstained. I have similar feelings about sheets. In both cases, I prefer that the linens be of high quality and/or have amusing design features. I’d happily dry myself off with a fresh, soft NBA Houston Rockets towel made of a poly blend and then get into a bed with 600+ thread count cotton sheets in doodoo brown. Each case must be considered individually. Unfortunately, my need to evaluate these things on a case-by-case basis has led to a tremendous case backlog. For example, I still haven’t gotten around to deciding how I feel about a brightly colored, contoured towel I used in 2004. It just didn’t seem very fresh. [...]

  67. From the Comments : clusterflock on February 7th, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    [...] Daryl Scroggins: Cindy can positively not eat an ice cream cone without getting it all over her. But I guess I’m kind of happy about that–it’s endearing. And once at a Kips Big Boy restaurant (I have probably told this before) she was eating a hot fudge sundae, and when a decidedly straight-laced just-out-of-Church family looked over at us reprovingly because of our high spirits, she painted her eyelids with fudge and gazed at them in a regal way. They quickly turned back to their salads of iceberg lettuce with thousand island dressing, and I thought of how vastly lucky I was to be with a person who would do such a marvelous thing. [...]

  68. Cindy Scroggins on February 7th, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Afghan War towels! Y’all! We need to start a clusterflock business. This could take off.

    I’m especially fond of the rugs/towels with helicopters on them. I don’t think I’d care for the ones Lucy describes–they seem a little too war-y.

  69. Valerie on February 7th, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Andrew:

    Your grew up with white towels and white monogram towels too! Whats up with that??? If you don’t like the sheets I sent – send them back I will use them in the guest room. I guess, that explains why I didn’t get a thank-you note.

    I hope you liked the monogram shirts!

    VJKS

  70. Lucy Foley on February 8th, 2009 at 11:45 am

    This is starting to feel like an intervention.

  71. Andrew Simone on February 8th, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Well, now I know my mother reads the comments.

  72. Valerie on February 11th, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    You had over 70 comments on white towels and less on things – that are far more interesting.

    Ever wonder why?

    VJKS

  73. Andrew Simone on February 11th, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Because sometimes the least interesting things can turn out to be the most interesting.

  74. Daryl Scroggins on February 11th, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Great answer, Andrew. Creative process is not the handmaiden of hierarchy.

  75. the uncanny valley of movie greatness : clusterflock on February 15th, 2009 at 10:33 am

    [...] know this isn’t a discussion of white towels but [...]

  76. Valerie on February 16th, 2009 at 7:30 am

    You are your mothers child.

    I guess this is what I get for leaving ‘interesting reads” on your bed pillows!

    Confessions of a mother.

  77. Lucy Foley on March 8th, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Pork.