My roommate gave me the evil eye the other day for drying my hands with the dishtowel. I didn't know we had dishtowels and was also unaware they were different from the hand towels. Apparently neither are appropriate for wiping off the counter. I wish someone had explained this to me earlier -- In my simple mind, I had basically lumped all towels into two categories -- bath towels and kitchen towels. I figured their differing sizes and softness were merely functions of how large a thing you needed to dry and how much chaffing you were willing to endure. My mom probably tried to explain the difference to me ages ago, but somewhere between calculus and the lines from Top Gun, I forgot.
So, in lieu of the proper towels, I basically had an informal hierarchy of towels that related to their perceived cleanliness. The cleanest towels were hand towels, and in a pinch, they could be used as dish towels. Eventually the hand towel became a bona fide dish towel, which eventually morphed into a counter wiping towel, and finally, a sink and floor wiping towel -- after which they would be washed and the cycle began again.
In case you're wondering, men have a similar hierarchy for clothes. The cleanest clothes are for church, funerals, and other formal events, next is work meetings, followed closely by dates and then down to Saturday attire. Yes, it's said but true. Don't believe me? I cite Ghostbusters as corroborating evidence:
Peter Venkman: "Did you happen to see some shirts on the floor in here?"
Dana: "I put them in your hamper. I thought they were dirty."
Peter <shakes head>: "I have a hamper? I have more than two grades of laundry. There are lots of subtle levels between clean and dirty. <Lifts shirt out of hamper and smells it.> See, this isn't so bad, just hang it out the window and it'll be fine."