Renovation Woes

On Wednesday, finally fed up with the appalling turn of events, I swept into the kitchen dramatically. Brandishing the textile in question, I addressed my wrath at the room’s occupants, who were in the middle of a porch renovation lunch break. “THIS—” I pronounced with a violent flourish, “THIS is the GOOD TEA TOWEL! And just look at it! You have sullied it beyond redemption!” Naturally, I was met with protests:

“But it was hanging right there!”
“There was nothing else to dry our filthy hands on!”
“What’s a good tea towel?!”

“No!” I exclaimed, putting up a hand to silence their futile defense. “It simply won’t do.” I reached into a drawer and pulled out another, brand new tea towel. “This is now the good tea towel. You will recognize it because it has glitter thread running through the pattern. It is not—and I repeat NOT—to be used.”

If you are not familiar with the concept of the good tea towel, let me explain. There are the tea towels that you use every day, the ones you dry things with, fold up to put under a hot saucepan or even, dare I say, use to extract a baking pan from the oven. And then there is the good tea towel, the one that’s just for show. I’ve had this issue before—once, when I was living in Toronto for work, I had a roommate, a lovely girl in every other way, except for her insistence on using the good tea towel. It was white and black, in a charming ‘Paris’ motif, and it hung from a hook in a spot that was obviously chosen for its display properties. There was another tea towel, a plainer one, that was close to the stove and sink, and simply screamed out, “Use ME!” Yet my roommate kept using the good tea towel, until it was no longer ‘good’. I would come back after a weekend at home to find it hanging all crumply and stained. I would wash it and then replace it, and put the other, everyday tea towel in a more convenient spot. But she never learned and her tenure with me was short, as you can well imagine.

This is what happens when the rules are ignored.

And you may scoff at the good tea towel, and most likely you are, but here’s a fact: Laura Secord didn’t abandon her children and make her way alone through the forest to warn the British about an impending American attack just because she felt like going for a jog. No, she was sick to f*cking death of the U.S. soldiers using her good tea towel. It’s true. We won the War of 1812 because of the good tea towel. Of course, when the soldiers left Laura’s house, they also left behind that one fork—you know the one I mean. It doesn’t match any of your other forks, you didn’t buy it, and you have no idea where it came from, yet every time you reach into the cutlery drawer, it’s the first one your hand grabs, until finally, in a fit of pique, you yell “Stupid fork, I hate you!” and you throw it in the garbage. I may or may not have done this recently.

But these are the kinds of stressors you have to deal with when your house is undergoing renovations. It got substantially worse yesterday, when Ken and I were driving back from Home Depot with a large load of wood in the trailer. I was already a little freaked out at his bizarre need to tell me that he had to take the corners slowly in case the trailer tipped over, filling my head with visions of lumber all over the road and twisted metal everywhere, but then this happened:

Me: I need a new go bag. I don’t think the one I have is big enough now.
Ken: Go bag?
Me: In case of fire. I have a bag, and a list of things to put in it, like the external hard drives, jewelry, the box of special notes and cards, my mother’s watch…
Ken: The good tea towel.
Me: Obviously. But I think I need a new bag. There are a lot of things to take.
Ken: I’m assuming that in this scenario, Kate, Atlas, and I are out of the house and safe.
Me: Of course. You’re more important than any stuff. But once you’re out, I’ll run to the back bedroom, kick out the window, and throw the go bag and all my Paris paintings onto the balcony then climb down off the side porch.
Ken: Porch? Your plan would be perfect, except you’ve apparently forgotten that we currently don’t have a side porch.
Me: WHAT? F*ck.
Ken: You could always go out the window by the stairs and leap from the front porch to the spruce tree.
Me: I’m not A LEMUR, KEN.

And now I not only need a new go bag but a new fire plan to go with it. Ken suggested that I could tie a rope to one of the brackets in the brick and shimmy/rappel down to the ground, and I was like “How am I supposed to do that carrying a bag and several paintings, KEN?”

So now, he and his crew (i.e. Kate and her boyfriend) are under strict orders to get some kind of structure up immediately. And stop using the good tea towel.

It’s a long way down.

45 thoughts on “Renovation Woes

  1. I love your posts about The Good Tea Towel. My wife totally relates.
    The weird thing about Good Tea Towels is that they are normally a fancy print on thin cotton & consequently utterly rubbish at being able to fulfill its prime function of actually f***ing drying things. Being a logical bloke, this is why I don’t use The Good Tea Towel (because the truth is it is bad at towelling). That, and the wrath of my wife.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Omg….I’m dying here Suzanne! Except for the part where the Brits won the was of 1812 due to a tea towel. It was actually the Americans who got tired of being told to use another tea towel and then decided to take the matching fork, and left one they’d taken from the Spanish behind 😝🤣😆😂. Anyway, I understand the entire tea towel thing, having three boys it’s nearly impossible getting them to listen to this! But now, since I live alone I’ve put out the “good” tea and decorative bathroom towels with no one using them. It’s bliss I let you, total bliss not having to yell at someone “Why are you using the decorative towels in the bathroom when the one you should use is within reach of the sink!?!?” And the tea towels in the kitchen are right where they should be. I need a “go bag” now, didn’t think about it until I read your post, it’s a great emergency protocol to have.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This would be the first time I’ve heard of a “tea towel,” let alone a good one. I did deduce it’s what I’d call a dish towel. My “good” dish towels are in the cutlery drawer, and don’t come out until the dirty, crumpled dish towels, which lay in a pile next to the sink, can no longer reasonably be used to clean plates anymore… which for me, means they’ve finally achieved the black hazmat bucket kind of gross. The Happy Homemaker, I am not…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Of course we Americans don’t know the War of 1812 was lost over a tea towel, mostly because we don’t like to talk about the War of 1812 because we lost. Somehow tea towels never come up in Vietnam War movies even though that was a war for all the tea in China. Go figure.
    Anyway I blame going to university for the misuse of tea towels. There are no tea towels in dormitories. In fact all dormitory towels are the ones we bring from home and they all get gross and moldy no matter what, so it’s a relief to use something nice, and it’s hard for some of us to get out of the habit. Funny enough I still have an odd fork I picked up at my university. It’s long and three-pronged and didn’t match any of the cafeteria cutlery, which was badly matched already. It was a relic of the Spanish-American War and I think I did the staff a favor by taking it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Mount a conveniently accessible tool for display purposes only, says the woman who collects broken clocks. Gotcha.

    When I grew up (still in process) I vowed I’d never have that room where living was verboten. The “off limits” living room, that mausoleum of kitsch, of porcelain and silk, that might or might not have had its furniture encased in plastic film, like some showcase, department store window display. I think even the dust knew its place and avoided the room as a matter of obvious protocol.

    When Grandma died, all that crap went into the dumpster. Well, not all of it, the candy dish survived, survives still, forever empty now, though.

    Bug-out-bags are all the rage. Of course, the best bug-out kit, for the eventual End Days (coming soon to a hometown near you) is New Zealand citizenship. As an honorary British subject, maybe you already have premier status when it comes to showing up on that covetable, southern hemisphere country’s doorstep. I hear they value spotless tea-towels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • But the clocks LOOK pretty even though they don’t work, which is exactly the same with the tea towel. We have no living spaces that are off-limits—in fact, try that with Atlas around! But even HE knows better than to use the good tea towel, although he’s eaten a couple of others!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Hey, I grow up in a house with the ‘good towels’ that were not to be touched. Not as bad as a cousin’s house, where the ‘good furniture’ was covered in plastic and off-limits. Hmmm…can you laminate the tea towel to protect it? Love the escape plan — of course we have a go bag, and emergency evacuation checklists (and emergency cash on hand in case the ATMs fail) — even though it had an oversight. “I’m not a lemur, Ken.” Cracked me up. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We have roofers coming in a few weeks to replace our roof. The thought that they would be coming in to wash their hands never crossed my mind. I will make sure there is a roll of paper towel ready for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I do understand – I have a best tea towel as well. It has a pompom fringe on the sides, which won’t withstand many washings, and I hope it sort of warns people away from it naturally.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m with you on this, Suzanne. Our tea towels tend to go from “good” to “everyday” to cleaning rag. Every once in a while I have to buy a new one as the others proceed down the inevitable path to destruction. Thanks for the laugh. Hands off the good tea towel.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Currently, I do not have a good tea towel. As a mom of two boys, good towels are history until they leave home. Until then I’ll grudgingly put up with my worn towels and tell myself I will miss them when they move out. Sob. I know I will.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I could just say, hilarious and be done with it, but no.  This is one of the funniest posts I have ever read from your site and I have to add I was much in need of this humour, (u added as a sign of respect).  I’m now looking forward to more photos of the completed construction plus one of you, bag in hand, repelling from the second story window.♥️

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    Liked by 1 person

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