Allegedly, the towel as we (approximately) know it originated in Turkey. This is according to Wikipedia, which is one of the best websites ever. I think that most people everywhere used absorbent things, and particularly lengths of cloth. However, going with the Turks-originated-the-modern-ish-version-of-the-towel reminds me that just a few years ago (2012?) Turkish Hammam towels were all the rage on design websites and magazines, despite being not particularly spectacular and despite being stupidly expensive ($50 for what looks exactly like a scarf).
There are terrycloth towels (the ones with the scores and scores of little loops) and microfiber towels (like chamois) and waffle-weave towels.
But this isn’t so much about the history or fabrication of the towel so much as why it is important:
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels.
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value — you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble‐sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand‐to‐hand‐combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindbogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
- More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might have accidentally “lost.”. What the strag will think is that any man that can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still know where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
- Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)
(Thanks to Douglas Adams and http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy)
May 25 is Towel Day, the day to celebrate the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and, of course, to celebrate towels, usually by carrying one with you wherever you go.
HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY-THEMED TOWELS:
FANTASTIC TOWELS BY LEOMA LOVEGROVE FOR BEALLSFLORIDA:
I love these *so* much. They’re just all kinds of wonderful.
These were carried by BeallsFlorida for about $19 for Summer 2015. I think they’re fantastic, like I said. She made many more, this was just a sampling (more beach houses, boats, a palm tree…).
COLORFUL VINTAGE TOWEL EYECANDY:
Beautifully colored, patterned, textured/embossed, and made to last, what else is there to say other than “Where can I get some?”?
And of course, what would a homage to towels be without a mention of
HOLIDAY INN TOWELS:
Those comforting cloths that people have been absconding for over 50 years.:
TOWEL DAY DONE RIGHT
So many people have so much fun celebrating Towel Day, and it is fun to look through the many pictures online of people dressing up and being just the hoopiest froods they can be. However, I’ll just leave you with a few of my absolute favorites. Don’t forget to check out TowelDay.org and http://towelday.org/archives/:
And of course…