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The True Purpose of Guest Towels
by Melissa Pilgrim
Melissa Pilgrim is a freelance writer who's had 16 plays produced around the country, 4 screenplays optioned, 1 TV series optioned, and has had poetry and articles published in national magazines such as Script.

How dirty are your guest towels? I don’t mean literally— putting out grimy pieces of cloth next to your bathroom sink wouldn’t be the intended impression you meant to give your guests by even taking them out of the linen closet to begin with. What I’m really getting at is how often do you see them being used so that they make it from lying beside the bathroom sink and into the hamper to be washed? Can you even remember the last time that happened? Then maybe it’s time you make more time for guests in your life-- and when I say “guests” I don’t mean the family kind most people only (sadly begrudgingly) see for the holidays— I mean guests who were the true intent of the purpose of having guest towels for in the first place (and probably the same people who gave them to you as a housewarming gift with the hope that they will be put out for them one day), your friends.

That’s right, friends. You remember having friends, don’t you? Of course you do, but in a time when most people are so busy with careers, partners, families, and over-extended obligations, friends often get put last on the list. You may have many or only a best one, but what does the number of friends really matter if you never take time to see them? You think about them often… you hope to catch up “some day” (maybe when the kids are grown), or you meant to call them back— how long ago has it been now? The days, weeks, and months seem to slip by until one day you look at your address book and can’t even remember. That is why I always make sure I pay attention to how dirty my guest towels get— they act as a reminder of how often I make time for my friends.

I admit I may not get my house completely vacuumed and dusted in time for an afternoon visit of tea and cookies or even an occasional weekend dinner party, but one thing I do always make sure when I have friends over is that my bathroom is tidied up and a fresh, clean guest towel is put out for them to use. I have five total— less than the number of people in my life I consider being my friends, but since I doubt I’ll ever get the chance to see all of them in the span of one month let along one week five is all I need. Some are pretty with flowered designs (for my female guests who would normally only hang towels like these up for decoration in their bathrooms), and some are just solid colored cotton blends with a little fringe (for male guests so they’ll know they can actually use them since they’ve mostly all been trained that anything prettier than plain is only for decoration in a bathroom.) And I check each week when I do laundry to make sure at least one has been used. If not, I make sure to schedule at least two get-togethers for the following week to make up for it. I also make sure I rotate the invitations so that as the towels are being used I always get together with different friends, seeing some regularly and others at least once every couple of months. But no matter how often I see any of them, the one thing they always know when they come to visit is that they’ll be a fresh guest towel put out just for them to make them feel welcomed, thought of, and special. And though this may be the guest towel industry’s original intent for making these unique pieces of terry cloth in the first place, to me their true purpose is to be the gauge of how often I make time for my friends. How dirty are yours?

Published: Jul 17,2008 12:49
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