Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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The Plight Of The Decoy Towel

Look. I'm no Sabrina Soto or - what's the adorable, little, perky one's name again? Lisa LaPorta. That's right. I'm no Sabrina Soto or Lisa LaPorta but I know from bathroom hand towels. And if you don't know who Sabrina and Lisa are you just might be dead to me.

I used to date a man (and I use the term 'date' loosely here) (I also use the term 'man' loosely as well) whose bathroom was barren. It looked just a bit better than a gas station restroom, is what I'm saying here. I've seen better bathrooms at Wal-Mart. Harsh, I know, but the dude was clueless. He did not even have a shower curtain, y'all. That's like, Bathroom 101, right? And I'm not talking about a decorative curtain either. He didn't even have a plastic curtain to keep water in the shower. I don't know what kind of havoc this wreaked on his showering, like I said, I'm using the term 'date' loosely here.

Anyway, I was washing my hands in there one day and when I couldn't find anything with which I could dry them, I snapped. I dragged his ass to the nearest Bed, Bath & Beyond and forced him to stock up on curtains, rugs, even a matching silver toothbrush and soap holder set. We also purchased several of what he insisted on calling "decoy towels" after I instructed him that these towels were to be on display in the bathroom and were never, under any circumstances, to be used.

"Decorative towels." I corrected.

"What's the point of a towel if you aren't going to use it? I say DECOY towels. They're just there to fake you out."

"Nobody's faking anyone out." I said even though I had faked him out the night before because the sex was enough already and I just needed some sleep. "These towels are a matching set and will beautify your bathroom, which currently looks like a prison cell minus the silver john."

I decorated the hell out of that bathroom, you guys. Lisa LaPorta would've been proud. I did it, not because I spent much time in it and not because I gave a crap what anyone else thought about his bathroom, but because it was a fun makeover on someone else's dime.

Admittedly, I'm not the best decorator, but only because I have minimal funds plus two kids, which leads to a lack of interest in even trying. Lisa LaPorta would waggle an adorably delicate finger at me, tell me this is no excuse, but hey. I found a cheesy Doritos fingerprint on the clasp of my nursing bra last night. That is the state of affairs 'round these parts. Not exactly a scenario that is conducive to special household projects. I'll be lucky if I get that nursing bra laundered before Sunday. Plus we're moving soon, as has always been the plan, so what would've been the point of decorating?

Anyway, despite the fact that we're renting and moving soon, I did arrange a few strategically-placed "decoy towels" in our bathrooms. They've all mysteriously disappeared except for the ones in the master bath. A small splash of color to brighten my long, dreary pregnant days. But now that I'm no longer 180 pounds and carrying another human inside my body, Serge was recently welcomed back from the guest room into our sleeping quarters.

And what is it with you men and decorative towels? Can you not fathom the concept? A towel for looks and not your grubby mitts? You can take apart car engines, send rockets to the moon and pull bullets out of brains as easy as you please, but you cannot grasp the concept of a decorative towel?

What is this? I'll tell you what this is. It's my decorative towel beneath a bandana and a hat, that's what it is. A bandana and hat that completely obscure my creative washcloth placement (in a contrasting yet complimentary color!) at the top of the towel. You may also notice the towel doesn't look so new anymore as is befitting a proper decorative towel. That's because SOMEONE has been using it for God knows what. SOMEONE can deny all he wants, but anyone who shows this kind of brazen disrespect for the decorative towel has to be the culprit. And I will tell you something else. If SOMEONE has been using my decorative towel to wipe off wet dogs after their daily walk SOMEONE might just be staring down the barrel of another exile to the guest room.

Reader Comments (18)

So this is what the state of affairs will be soon...I see. I knew when I was doing it that my almost all white guest bath was a sort of bad idea, but that was two years ago and we were barely thinking about babies and messes and things.

We had friends over a few weeks ago and their 4-year old had just been to some face/hand painting party and my white white white fluffy Turkish hand towels...

I should prepare myself, shouldn't I?

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterchristine

I absolutely LOVE your blog. Been reading on and half for about 3+ years, I think. Basically since you were back in Brooklyn. But I beg -- IMPLORE -- you not to turn your blog into a decorating website. I like to hear about YOU and Serge and the kids. This towel article is fine, but once you start taking pictures of rooms that you have decorated and whoring out items, you're a goner. (Just look at Dooce and Stephanie Klein...they used to write about their lives, now they just write about their new throw pillows in the guest room. BARF!!) Don't be them, be you! You're amazing!

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShira

You're crazier than I am! Can't wait to show this to my boyfriend! ha!

Decorative towels!? I want the towels to look nice, for sure. But they're for guests to use. There's no room for decorative plus actual towels around here. And even if they look untouched, how would I ever be sure that they hadn't been touched? Well, I guess I'm crazier than I thought...

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia

Bless their big,sweet, clueless hearts! It's a testosterone thing, I'm certain of it. No matter how brilliant or educated these handsome fellas are, they can be so completely dumb. Funny funny funny!

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaty E.

Oh... Em... Gee... You have the same purple towel that I have in the guest bathroom. Except mine is not for decorative purposes.
In any case, it seems to me that Serge helped you invent something better than the decorative towel: the functional decorative towel. You use it for a specific purpose - but different than the typical one (i.e. drying human skin). I think Sabrina would be jealous.
Now, if only your dog wouldn't smell. Because washing the towel daily would defeat the purpose of the new invention.

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfahrenheit

How many towel racks/holders do you have in the bathroom? How do you make room for the pretty towels and also the usable ones?

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharity

I love that cap hanging there... although, if it were my bathroom, I would be annoyed.

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

OK, Katie Granju sent me here and I'm laughing my head off. I love the "decoy" towels. And the bandana? Well that's down right decorative!

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisse

Great post! But PLEASE can we have an update on the saucepan display thingy again!!!

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan

The super absorbent decorative hat towel. Wipe away!

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergina

@Dan - Serge is still hard at work on his "Pan Creations". I'll let you know when he gets his Etsy shop up and running.

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who...

Hey, I think Serge is onto a new thing here. Decorative towels draped with caps and bandanas....Love it. Put one on on every towl rack you have.! First I would make sure I rent a house in PA that has his and her bathrooms. haha...

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentervchilds

There was a cartoon in our newspaper yesterday. The father was carefully explaining the fine art of replacing the roll of toilet paper to his teenage son. The son comments that the towels were never used anyway. I thought of you.

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOpus

OK honey, I have never, ever heard of "decorative" towels before, and I'm an interior decorator. The pretty colored handtowels in most bathrooms? Those are for drying your hands with.

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

I think it's the special folding of the towel that *really* designates it as a "decorative" towel. If its folded like a swan, like the maids do on cruise ships, then I won't dare use it because in no way could I ever rebuild the towel-swan. Or if there are three or four towels layered on top of each either, in a telescoping fashion, and each one is folded so narrow that you could only wipe a mini-hand with it, then, again, I won't use it to dry my hands. Also, if the towel is pure white, white as snow, then indeed, I could never touch it because my immediate use of that towel would leave some sort of mark.

However, the towel in your picture looks ripe for hand drying! If it was high enough on the wall and I could get my face close to it without having to take it off the hook, I might even dry my face with it after a splash of cool water!

Also, be glad it's just a hat and a bandana. If its in the bathroom, you could hang underwear and socks on it. I know my socks get pretty rough after a nice day of August-yard-work!


April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBill

That is EXACTLY what the decorative towels look like in my bathroom - hidden underneath whatever smelly t-shirt my husband took off and couldn't be bothered to put in the hamper. (Hamper? What's a hamper? It might as well be some kind of mystical creature that only appears at the full moon because my husband has NO IDEA how to find it.)

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

I also don't have decorative towels. I have pretty pink towels that I totally use for using. But I am a single woman and I live alone, so perhaps that has something to do with it.

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSadie

I can appreciate your need for a nice hand towel, Monica, one designated for aesthetics alone (This one here is particularly pretty in a thirsty shade of eggplant). When your usables go missing, it's only natural that the decoy, or someone's used bath towel is going to be the first thing they reach for, unless of course, you keep a roll of paper towels on hand. In this case it appears that it was not so much the towel but the hook which drew the hat. I can see the need for functionality where one's hat is concerned. The hat finds it's resting place on the head, and while it is off of the head, requires some familiar spot from which to hang...right? A place where it can be retrieved quickly...a hat hook, perhaps. The picture here, is actually cute, the perfect marriage of color, texture, and layering, symbolizing for me, the haven of comfort after a long day at the ax or grist mill. Dirt meets rest. So maybe the hat isn' t that dirty but it's got an old Dickens feel to it. Anyway, my suggestion would be to invest in a coulple of hooks. Perhaps one behind the door which is designated for hat alone....unless a lonely towel should find it's is one I found online:

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergina

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