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.
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.