Friday, January 27, 2023

Andy Young: What’s your towel’s name?

By Andy Young

There are some really strange people out there these days, as I was discussing with Orphanzo recently on our morning commute.

Orphanzo (or one of his Textilian brethren) often accompanies me to the gym, traveling inside a duffel bag along with two socks, some fresh underwear, a reasonably respectable shirt, and occasionally some wristbands, in case I’m anticipating a more-strenuous-than-usual workout before hitting the showers.

Orphanzo got his name because he’s an orphan of sorts. Some time ago while I was out walking, I took a shortcut through the high school athletic fields near where I live. There’d been a game there the previous evening; I could tell by all the rubbish that had been strewn on the ground.

After filling the plastic bag I had stashed in my right pocket with litter (because who doesn’t carry a plastic bag when they go walking?), I headed over to a trash can. And that’s when I glimpsed a heart-wrenching sight: a soaking-wet, reasonably new-looking, dirt-stained blue-green towel on the front row of the bleachers, looking desperately lonely. With the possible exception of a deserted single glove or shoe, nothing’s sadder than an abandoned towel.

I immediately unfolded my other plastic bag, the one I had stashed in my left pocket (because who doesn’t carry two plastic bags when they go walking?), squeezed out the towel, gently placed it inside the bag, and brought it home. One laundering later it came out looking fresh as an aqua daisy. I subsequently did all the required paperwork, then legally adopted and christened him.

Most of my towels have names. Thick, yellow “Frenchy Lemieux” was acquired for a dollar at a yard sale run by the local French immersion school. “JDM” is a still-lush blue-and-white model with ducks on it; it was my daughter’s favorite when she was little. (The JDM stands for Joe “Ducky” Medwick, a Hall of Fame baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, and Boston Braves in the 1930’s and 40’s.) “Balls McGee” has baseballs, soccer balls, basketballs, and footballs printed on him; he’s named for an expression a college-era friend would exclaim from time to time when he needed to verbally register shock, delight, frustration, awe, or some combination of those things. Balls has a little brother, a washcloth I christened “Little Balls,” a name my immature children found (and in some cases continue to find) amusing for reasons I still struggle to understand.

Other towels in my closet have personal designations reflecting their appearance, including Brownie, Blue Boy, Whitey Ford (named for the former New York Yankee pitcher), and Mr. Green (one of the “Clue” suspects).

And I probably should mention “Bubbles Hawkins,” “Le Quebecois,” “Wally World,” and “Striper, no Striping” as well, although limited space prevents me from going into the derivations of their names.

Not every towel gets to come to the gym with me. The thin ones that are more like squeegees than bath towels, like “KHS Class of 2009” (so named because that’s what’s printed on it) and “Maple Leaf” (a thin terry cloth Canadian flag), stay home, where they perform mop-up duties from time to time.

I was once asked if I had a favorite towel, and of course I don’t. I’d no sooner declare a preference for a particular resident of my linen closet than I would designate a favorite child from amongst my trio of offspring.

I’ve also been asked if my shirts have names. What a dumb question. Obviously, they don’t.

Only a really strange person would name a shirt and then have conversations with it. <

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