Lately Kish and I have experienced a weird phenomenon: every time we go out to buy towels, the towels we bring home don’t work very well. In fact, you might say they suck — except that “sucking” suggests a moisture absorbency that these towels totally lack.
Rosie, the waitress from the old Bounty TV commercials, would tell you that the key quality of towels — paper or cloth — is their ability to soak up fluids. That’s why she was always accosting customers, butting into their conversations to yammer on about the “quicker picker-upper,” and sticking Bounty towels into half-filled glasses of water to show how much water the towels could absorb without dissolving into wet paper nubs.
But modern towel manufacturers seem to have forgotten — or perhaps they never learned — this essential lesson about what a towel should be. They make towels that look delightfully warm and fluffy and soft, but that don’t actually soak up water. It’s as if the cloth has a kind of coating on it that prevents it from sucking up fluids. So when you use the fluffy towel after taking a shower, you’re just smearing water around on your arms and legs, and your hair stays wet. The difference between the old towels in our house and the new breed is like night and day — or, most aptly, dry and wet.
It’s absurd. It’s like buying a pillow that is hard and jagged, ordering a drink that is so brackish it doesn’t quench your thirst, or purchasing a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t actually suck up dust and dirt. Modern towel manufacturers consistently produce a product that doesn’t even perform its principal purpose. How in the world did this happen?