Towels are too thick now. It might just be that I’ve gotten older and started buying things that are fancier than I really like, but I don’t think that’s it; I run into thick towels everywhere except hotels. In hotels the towels are thin and practical, and it’s the pillows that are too thick, and the mattress pads, the whole bed is like lying on a giant bowl of pudding that might engulf you, thanks to some sort of out-of-control public appetite for squishiness, which maybe people previously got from the suspensions in their luxury cars before all the luxury cars became luxury trucks.
So towels are thicker and heavier, which could be one of those indicators right-wing think tanks use to argue that everyone’s quality of life has never been better, like cheap flat-screen TVs. How can you complain about late capitalism when the towels are so abundant?
But the real indicator is the towel bars. The towel bars have stayed the same size, or rather the same distance from the wall, while getting flimsier and flimsier and being mounted in ever more cheapjack ways, until now a thick fluffy towel can pry one right off the wall if you’re not careful.
I grew up in a house that was built in the early 1960s, with each bathroom tiled in a different color and with the towel bars anchored in matching porcelain brackets, cemented to the wall. Now in my apartment they’re just screwed into drywall, and the screws pop out and the whole thing hangs askew. At a rented beach house not long ago, someone had just glued the towel bar to the bathroom wallpaper. This is how quality of life works now: you can have nice towels, on the floor.