Opinion: Time to throw out the towel


This is the 20th anniversary of my son’s metamorphosis. I was reminded of it when Brett requested new towels for Christmas. When he opened the gift, he flashed a big grin. I knew exactly what he was remembering.

When Brett started college, we were worried how he would handle his new independence. We had the normal apprehensions any parent would have. But when we visited him that first year, we witnessed something we did not anticipate.

Brett had turned green.

Mary Ellen and I sat across from Brett at dinner during Parents Week, and we noticed that his skin had a grayish-green tint to it. At first, we were alarmed. We sent Brett to college with the hopes of a good education. We hoped that college would change his perspective – not his color.

“Brett, have you noticed that you are turning green?” I asked nonchalantly, trying to hide my concern.

My wife, never wanting to seem negative, interrupted my query.

“It’s a lovely shade of green, of course,” she said. “But you weren’t that color when you left home.”

Brett seemed unnerved by the observation. He looked at his arms and his hands. Then he tightened his face, gritted his teeth and growled, “Don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.”

Thinking my son was The Hulk was a bit disconcerting, but if you have ever raised a teenager, you know that few things should surprise you.

Brett noticed his change in hue after showering and drying off with the towels we bought him for his dorm. This brought a glare from my wife, who wanted to splurge on plushier accessories but was convinced otherwise by her cheap husband who thought if Amazon.com was good enough for books, it would be good enough for towels.

Mary Ellen went into a spasm of laughter, mostly out of relief that Brett did not have a rare tropical disease. Knowing this would end up a column, I tried out all my jokes on Brett like, “You should start a garden now that you have a green thumb.” Then I went into a musical rendition of “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” using my very best Kermit the Frog impersonation. Mary Ellen, at this point, would have laughed at anything, just relieved we weren’t headed to the Mayo Clinic.

Back at his dorm, Brett’s roommate, Connor, was practicing his guitar.

“Hey, Connor, did you notice that Brett has turned green?”

“That’s odd,” said Connor, looking at his arm. “I did notice that I am turning kind of blue, myself.”

Sure enough, Connor’s arms had an attractive sky-blue tint, which my wife and I immediately noticed perfectly matched his towels on the shelf. Connor’s dad was probably a tightwad like me.

Now, we buy all towels at a higher-quality establishment. Recently, that very company filed for bankruptcy. Unlike my son, Bed Bath & Beyond was not the color of money.


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