Lies, Damn Lies and Me
The Shroud of the Towel
This is just a silly incident from my life so I am frankly not going to bother with my flashy literary tricks nor will I disguise myself as a gorgeous damsel in distress. This is a story about a stupid beach towel and how it came to be a symbol of morality.
Let us start with the EX! He was a man of details. He could avoid major issues like, insecurity, truth and commitment and focused on the smallest details with an appalling level of clarity.
Once I had left the gate under the house open. Thereby inviting every common thief with in a forty mile radius to come on in and steal a rusty malfunctioning washing machine. This oversight of mine was initially dealt with through the device of a two hour lecture and brought up no less than ten times over a four day period!
My parents,in a fit of “I don’t know what to buy” one Christmas, bought the Ex a beach towel. To be honest it was a “flashy, trying to be cool, but not quite pulling it off” type of towel.
The Ex seemed to love it. Like so many people who are obsessed with the use of a certain cup or sitting in a particular chair, the towel became a part of his identity. It was ,in short- to him- the epitome of towels.
One evening he went carousing, which is to say, he went somewhere- goodness knows where- with his friends. I was readying myself for a good night in with some black and white movies when the phone rang.
It was Philly, a really good friend of mine. She informed me that she had the exclusive use of her Uncle's backyard pool and invited me to come over for a swim. She further announced she was around the corner and would be over in two minutes to pick me up.
It was a tropical still night so the use of a pool, that wasn’t drenched in the shared body essence of a hundred strangers, was too good of an offer to pass up. I dashed around the house finding my togs, thongs and sunnies. Just then I heard her car pull up. With her usual impatience she tooted loudly.
I realised I did not have a towel. There, hanging over the front veranda, was the Ex’s sacred towel. It flapped like a challenge. I knew it was wrong. With a deliberate air of defiance I grabbed the towel. I assumed I would have it back hanging over the front deck before he returned.
I thought he would never know of my transgression. I thought my ploy would be forever secret.
Philly and I had a grand swim under the velveteen Summer evening sky. We felt part fish and part sweaty human as we relaxed in the sun lounges. Philly brought up the Ex; she was talking around the fact that she did not like him and frankly thought less of me for having such a small person in my world. I feigned ignorance and changed the topic, with elegance, by offering to go inside and get a drink for us.
I managed to get home before the Ex and my inner demons were laughing with glee at my cleverness. Then I realised that I had left the towel at Philly’s Uncle’s house!
I ran to the phone and dialled with a manic fury. I told Philly of my moment of stupidity and begged her to bring the towel to me with all haste. Philly failed to sense the urgency and said she would bring it the next day. I could not tell her of the critical nature of the towel mission or I would appear as lame as the Ex himself. I simply accepted her offer to return it a day late.
I pulled the curtains to the deck closed and tried to look nonchalant and innocent when the Ex returned home. It was to no avail; with the skill of a blood hound he spotted the inconsistent presence of closed curtains. Within two seconds he yanked the curtains open. The empty deck screamed at him. With desperation he turned to me and asked “Where is the towel- I left it here?”
Fortunately, I am a very bright person, and pretended astonishment at the absence of the holy towel. “Maybe it fell down.” I said. I reasoned that if Philly handed me the towel, I could deposit it in a garden and pretend to find it. I must admit I felt guilty when he dashed down the stairs almost tripping to retrieve his towel from the garden below.
After five minutes or so he came upstairs, shoulders slumped in disappointment. “It wasn’t there, it must have fallen down. Maybe the neighbours picked it up, could you check for me.” I did not want to annoy him further so I said I would ask them. He stood perched on the sadly empty veranda to watch as I went to all of the neighbours in our complex to ask about a fake missing towel. This was getting out of hand but there was no alternative but to carry on marching through the gates of hell.
When I reported to him that none of the neighbours had seen hide nor hair of his towel, he plonked down on the sofa with his head cradled in his hands. “Why was I so stupid as to leave it hanging on the deck? Of course it was stolen. I am such an idiot!” His voice was full of self-recrimination. I patted his shoulder in my best imitation of a caring girlfriend and made sympathetic noises.
My guilt demon was in hyper drive but I calmed it with assurances that Philly would return the towel tomorrow and I would use my cunning to find a way out of this predicament.
The next day he was still going over and over the events that led up to the disappearance of the towel. He used his best Sherlock Holmes wits to examine his conundrum and solve the mystery of the runaway towel.
We went out to lunch with friends whom he regaled with the story. They seemed shocked anyone would care about a towel but could offer no real support to this destitute man. When we arrival home there on the front door step, folded, washed and bagged, was the towel.
There was much rejoicing mixed with puzzlement on how the miracle was achieved. Using my story telling skills I created a sequence of events in his mind. “Perhaps the towel fell to the garden and was spotted by a kind stranger who took it home cleaned and returned it.” This story was as far fetched as saying “Maybe there is a little hollow in the garden containing pixies that cleaned the towel as their once a year good deed.”
Surprisingly he grasped on to my tale with eagerness. His faith in the common man was refuelled and the world seemed such a nicer and more civilized place. I shut my mouth and let those sleeping dogs snooze.
The next morning I awoke to the sounds of him telling his mother, in exquisite detail, the saga of the towel. She seemed as impressed with it as he. Together they relived the towel’s exciting adventure. I wished the towel story would die because it gave me pangs every time I heard it and trust me, I heard repeatedly.
Roughly a week later the Ex’s mother came over again. She was breathless with excitement. She told us how she was at the shopping centre when she came across a man’s wallet in the car park.
It did not have any I.D. but it did have two hundred and twenty five dollars in it. “Normally I would have pocketed the money, but then I remembered the towel,” she said. I suppressed an inner groan. She continued on “I thought to myself, when that stranger returned the towel to my son they did a great thing. I will thank that stranger by handing in the wallet.” She grinned beatifically.
She spoke of how she took it to the police station. The police were stunned that someone would hand in such an item, they told her they would take it and if no person came to claim it she would get the wallet. Then another miracle happened and a man came to claim the wallet, he was given her address, as agreed to by the Ex's mother, and mystery man wrote her a letter.
The letter told a story of how the money was a deposit for his girlfriend’s engagement ring and that it was a great deal of money for him. The loser of the wallet praised the Ex’s mother for her saint hood and her role in fulfilling true love. None of it she assured me would have happened without the towel.
They say the path to Hell is paved with good intentions. This incident made me wonder if the path to heaven is paved with bad intentions.
All hail the towel!