Columns

2018.01.24 Mysterious stains of life

By DAVID GREEN

There’s a dirty hand towel mystery  continuing in our house. Of course it’s the towel that I use.

I’m an easy one to blame for the problem because I don’t always turn the light on. I’ll come home from the Observer on a Tuesday night after addressing papers and my hands are still a little dirty, even after a preliminary washing (without a light) at work.

What’s with the light? If I don’t need it, I don’t turn it on. There’s always light from another room coming in. I can see what I’m doing. 

But I don’t see the printing ink that I’ve left behind in the sink because I don’t always remember to swish some rinse water around to clean it out.

So then Colleen comes in, turns on the light, and sees the dirty sink. OK, I’m guilty in that situation, but I’ve become better at rinsing.

I have been accused of using her toothbrush on rare occasions, also, and again this is due to the absence of light. I know where my toothbrush resides in the ceramic holder. I know what it looks like.

But why would she turn the holder around so that my toothbrush is now on the upper left instead of where I always leave it on the lower right? What’s the reason for that?

I look for the purple pad where a thumb goes. It matches the purple coloring on the back of my brush. But what I discovered recently is that her toothbrush also has a purple pad despite its green coloring.

The situation would be easier if we only had two toothbrushes in the holder instead of five. There are only two people living here. Are we still maintaining a brush for each of our children?

Back to the beginning where I mentioned the hand towel mystery.…

There’s a hand towel hanging on each side of the bathroom sink: one for the dirty man and one for his clean wife. Every now and then odd stains will appear on mine.

That’s happened in the past from washing and drying pears. It’s not a pleasant-looking stain that a ripe pear leaves behind. It does not resemble food—at least not undigested food.

I have improved my fruit-drying behavior significantly. If it’s a really ripe pear, I might only dab it dry, and that’s done carefully. Leave no skin behind.

Colleen insists that I use a paper towel, but…well, here’s the thing. I’ve admitted facets of my odd behavior here in the past, so why not once again?

I wash my fruit with Dr. Bronner’s soap. It serves as our hand soap. It comes wrapped in a weird label filled with small print: “Teach the Moral ABC that unites all mankind free, instantly 6 billion strong & we’re All-One.” “A fire, a mist, a planet, a crystal, a cell, a jellyfish, a dinosaur, caves where cavemen dwell.” “Enjoy only two cosmetics: enough sleep and Dr. Bronner’s ”Magic Soap” to clean body-mind-soul-spirit instantly uniting One!” And so forth. It’s like a novella wrapped around a bottle of Pure-Castille Soap. Although I’ve never delved into the details of the Moral ABC, Dr. Bronner’s has just become a habit after nearly a half-century of use.

The label recommends against eating the soap, so I always rinse it off well and dry it on the towel next to the sink. There’s never a soap taste. It washes off easily.

I’ve never before thought that Dr. Bronner’s is the cause of towel stain, but I’m considering it now that I’m looking at the brownish color. 

I’ve thought it might have been due to the oil that I rub on my face in the winter. Or maybe an oil that I rub on my hands in the winter.

It’s actually been quite a mystery because I’ve been very careful to wipe off oils with tissue, but still the stains appear from time to time.

What if it is the Bronner’s? Maybe soap remains on my hands after rinsing and it ends up on the towel.

I remember a recent morning when Colleen started giving me a hard time about my dirty hand towel. It brought much laughter from me.

“That’s my tirade,” she said. “Are you laughing at my tirade?”

Yes, I was, I told her as I asked why she was using my towel. Hey, is she the source of the stains?