Bath Towel or Rag?

When should a bath towel be retired to the rag bag? Which one of these is past its prime? Which is begging to be cut into 10 little rags, forever eliminating its chances of returning to the linen closet? Which is older?

Blue towel: circa 1984. Burgundy towel: circa 1994. Yes, really.

As I recall, in 1984, two of my great-aunts, sisters who married brothers, gave me high school graduation gifts that served me well in college and lasted long after my college graduation: a lavender umbrella, a medium-sized brown Tupperware bowl, a blue lap-desk, and a set of blue towels.

Today, those blue Made-in-America, 90% cotton/10% polyester towels are thin but not shredded like their circa 1994 counterpart. Generally, they are stored in the laundry room. I use them to scrunch excess water out of hand-washed bras & shin guards. On occasion, one wanders into the linen closet; more than once I’ve been thankful to see that 29-year-old towel on the shelf, for it covers more territory than a hand towel if all the clean, newer bath towels happen to be in the washer or dryer.

There was less territory to cover when I was in college, proven by the innocent picture taken from behind me as I was running down the dorm hallway clad only in one of these blue bath towels. These are bath towels, not bath sheets. The photographer had stripped my clothes out of the bathroom while I was in the shower. Yes, these towels hold powerful memories.

But still, they are old. My sister said they would be perfect for drying my niece’s hair, so I gave a couple to her. I only have one or two blue ones floating around here, but the Made-in-China, 100% cotton burgundy towel, circa 1994, will be chopped up long before the blue ones: my fingers get caught in the shreds of the burgundy one.

The towel population in my house is based on practicality. Do blue or burgundy match any of our bathroom colors now? No. But if you prove yourself useful, you have a good shot at staying in the Malcolm household for a very long time.

P.S. To my great-aunts: Thank you, nearly 30 years later, for those very useful gifts!  :)