367/444 Healing from Infidelity: Grief, Guidelines
369/444 Healing from Infidelity: Sabbath, Cycles and Rhythms

368/444 Healing from Infidelity: Saturday Play, Dave Barry on Guest Towels

A favorite from Dave Barry


Keep away from the guest towels


I received a letter from a reader named Dick Demers, who related a shocking story:

It seems Dick and his wife had driven a long distance to visit his wife's sister. Wishing to refresh himself, Dick went into the guest bathroom, took a shower, then dried himself off.

That's the story. Pretty shocking, huh?

Dick's wife thought so. She was horrified.

"You used the GOOD TOWELS!" she said.

And he had. It's a mistake many guys make. A guy will be in a guest bathroom, dripping wet, and he sees a towel, and for some insane reason he thinks it was put there for guests to dry themselves off with.

The towels Dick were supposed to use were NOT in the bathroom; they were in the bedroom. The towel Dick used was intended solely as decoration.

Here's a similar bonehead error that guys often commit in guest bathrooms: They see soap on a soap dish, and they use it to WASH THEIR HANDS. This of course ruins the guest soap, which is defined as "soap that guests are not supposed to use." Its purpose is to match the guest towels.

In his letter to me, Dick compared a hypothetical situation involving guys. Suppose, he wrote, that a guy is working on his car, and he asks you to hand him a 9/16 wrench. You go over to some wrenches hanging on the wall, and you start to take one, and the guy yells, "NOT THOSE! THOSE ARE FOR DECORATION!"

Dick, when you put it that way, the concept of purely decorative towels DOES seem silly. But there's actually a very logical explanation for it: Women are insane.

No, I am of course just kidding. There really is a good reason. I just don't know what it is. What I do know is that the practice of providing guests with conveniences they cannot use is not limited to the bathroom. The guest bedroom is usually equipped with decorative candles that you must not burn, because that would ruin them. Also you must never throw any waste into the decorative wastebasket, which has never contained any waste. If, during your visit, you generate waste, you should hide it in your suitcase and take it home.

But the trickiest thing is the guest bed. Oh, it may have attractive pillows on it, and a comfy-looking quilt, but do NOT use these. Take the pillows -- which are called "shams" -- off the bed and replace them with the REAL pillows, which are hidden somewhere, generally in the closet, which is where you're supposed to put the quilt, which is on the bed only to match the shams and should NOT come into contact with your disgusting oily guest body.

If your hostess subscribes to Martha Stewart Living, the guest bed may be so massively fortified with decorative objects that it may be deconstructed for sleeping use only by a licensed interior designer. I'm talking about a bed that is surrounded by a dust ruffle and buried under a complex, towering arrangement of approximately 46 shams and other decorative pillows, which are on top of the quilt, which may be encased in a "duvet cover" and further accessorized by (these are real decorator names) a "soutache."

If you, as a guest, encounter such a bed, do NOT approach it. Back slowly out of the room, and sleep on the lawn.

Of course, you won't encounter these problems if you're a guest in a household run by a guy, because he won't have fancy guest bedding. In fact, he won't have a guest bed. You'll sleep on the sofa under a Batman beach towel with stains dating back to the Reagan administration.

Dick, you make a logical point about the towels. But this is not about logic; this is about etiquette, and too often we males forget the basic underlying principle of all etiquette, which is: We are scum. So I urge you to apologize to your wife's sister, and henceforth show proper respect for her good towels by not treating them as if they were towels.