Monday, July 17, 2023

The Legend of Chris Towel

Almost everyone has a tale about that person who hung out at your house so much they became part of their family. It’s usually due to a friendship between them and someone in the family or maybe it was a boy/girlfriend situation that morphed into a whole family thing due to personalities. Of course, dogs, cats, and other animals often become family as well. This story is different, it’s about a towel that became if not part of the family at least part of the family lore and legend.

When one of my sons was working as a lifeguard at a community pool in Missouri he discovered after arriving for his shift that he’d forgotten to bring a towel. Rather than going without, he searched through a bin of Lost and Found items that had been there for over a month and pulled out a towel. As towels go, it was what you’d expect it to be. It was well made and larger than a bath, but smaller than a beach towel. It was medium gray with the name Chris and the silhouette of a fish embroidered on it in red.

When he brought it home that evening, he threw it in the laundry basket and explained how he came by the towel. I thought because of the fish emblem on it that Chris was probably part of the swim team or some other aquatic collective. The towel was washed and put away with our other towels and without fanfare Chris Towel, as it became known, started its journey with the family. 

The rest of the time we lived in Missouri, Chris Towel became the go-to tog. We’d take him with us when the destination was less than stellar, more nature than civilized, or when there was a possibility, a good towel might get stolen. It was the expendable towel. It was also the towel used to mop up things off the garage floor or elsewhere in the house when dry was needed, but you didn’t want to risk a high-dollar towel. Looking back, I have to say that Chris Towel always performed well and after going through the wash it returned spot and stain-free every single time. It was never lost. I guess monogrammed things have less of a propensity for being ripped off unless someone named Chris is walking by. 

Chris Towel could’ve lived out his days in Missouri, serving its intended purpose until worn out, but fate had other plans. When we moved to Germany, he made the trip with us. From there, Chris Towel traveled to the Netherlands, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and all over Germany. As the expendable towel, it was always understood that if space was needed, Chris Towel would be left behind. He never was. Chris Towel also went along on Boy Scout camping trips at Camp Freedom and Kandersteg International Scout Camp in Switzerland. When my youngest son went to an Outward-Bound style camp in Austria, Chris Towel went along. 

There were times he faced extinction as closets were cleaned out and decisions were made about what might get disposed of or donated. Chris Towel always made the cut. He came back to the United States where he went to various water parks and a few more Scout camps before he was relegated to the back of the closet. 

When I deployed to Kuwait as a reservist, Chris Towel went along. Later, when I deployed to Kuwait as a civilian, Chris Towel once again packed his bag and went with me. At the end of my tour in Kuwait, I once again looked at Chris Towel and thought about leaving him behind, but thought better of it and he returned to the US with me. 

When my youngest son was putting together his own household, after getting married, Chris Towel went with him. I suppose explained Chris Towel’s family legacy to his wife, as she also refers to him by name. Since that time, he’s been blessed with two awesome daughters who’ve been dried off by Chris Towel. He continues to serve as the solution for a wet body coming out of a lake, a pond, a bathtub, or a sprinkler. 

Like most folks, over the years, I’ve picked up a little of this and a little of that from everywhere I’ve ever been. But I have to say that one of the most constantly familiar objects has been Chris Towel. 

Now and then, I think about wanting to return the towel to its original owner, but I have no way of locating them now any more than when he first arrived decades ago. Chris Towel had been with us so long I’m seriously considering adding them to the family tree. I wonder how the ancestry sites will feel about that.


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