From house and home

We have narrowed it down to one store, but there are still three types to choose from.

We have come back to this store with the benetton in mind. Those beautiful colours, yellow and orange and blue, will represent a new life, replacing the maroon and green that I would normally choose.

‘Yep,’ I have said with conviction as we discussed it outside the previous shop, ‘That’s definitely what we’ll do.’

‘Okay,’ the mister has said. ‘Let’s go.’

It is fun. Shopping is fun after all. The boys want orange, the mister wants yellow, and I have always loved the two contrasting with dark blue.
We will buy eight towels. Four dark blue, two yellow and two orange because the orange goes with the blue and the yellow goes with the blue, but the yellow and orange don’t mix.

I imagine our bathroom. It will look beautiful. Two blue towels and two orange one week, with two blue and two yellow the next. And the towels not being used? They will sit in a neatly folded, stable pile with their sides lined up just so.

New colours, new towels, new life.

Shopping is fun.
But then…

I take one final look at the tag.

‘How much is two hundred dirhams?’ I ask my walking currency convertor.

‘About seventy dollars,’ he says without needing to pause for conversion.

‘Seventy bucks? For a towel? F**k.’

He nods, patience in his eyes. He knew we’d be back at this point and he knows what’s to come.

I bite at my bottom, inside lip. I like that callous I have been growing.

On the one hand, I have been promising myself new towels. New towels and sheets to replace the fraying, thinning sets we’ve left behind. New towels is part of the excitement of the move. Who doesn’t love new sheets and towels bought in matching sets.

But seventy times eight is…’Eight sevens are fifty six, aren’t they?’ I check my calculation, although I’ve always been good on my eight times tables, it’s the nines I really can’t do.

The mister nods.

F**k. On towels.

‘These are nice too,’ I say rubbing at the nautilus towels. They are made from 100% hygro cotton which sounds wholesome, don’t you think. They are thicker, better quality. And I’ve always like maroon.

The mister nods.

‘I mean those benetton ones are beautiful colours and all, but you’re just paying for the name.’

He nods again.

‘That’s against everything I believe in.’ Pause. ‘Isn’t it?’

Another nod.

‘I like this colour.’ I point to the maroon in the hygro cotton which we have earlier ascertained are better – even good – value towels. ‘Do you?’

‘I’d be equally happy with that,’ he says. (I wonder whether he knows he only uses ‘equally happy’ in particular situations).

He gathers the orange towels back from youngest boy, the yellow towels back from the oldest and with nothing in their hands they start slapping each other again.

Okay, well, how about if we take four of these for now, and then, in another few weeks, if we see some others we like, we can buy four more. We drape the towels around ourselves, deciding on the bath sheet rather than the oversized towel.

‘Four of these please.’

‘I’m sorry, sir, we only have three pieces.’

Clearly we can’t take three, what kind of set is that for a family of four. Small conference, but it’s fine, no problems, simple solution we’ll just take two bath sheets (for the adults) and two oversized towels (for the children).
Here’s the facewashers.

But wait!

There’s no matching footmat!

We agree that we need a footmat, although we don’t agree that the footmat must match the towels.

I stroll along the shelves.

‘What about these? I like these,’ I say pointing at the Gant (I’m learning a lot about brands and labels today).

‘They’re the same price as the benetton.’

‘Yeah, but they have stars. Look at the stars.’ I pull one out, hold it out for the mister to rub. ‘And they’re better quality, aren’t they? And see…there’s a footmat to match.’

Truthfully, however, I think that the footmat has been dyed with a slightly different die than the towels, for they are both maroon, but in slightly different shades.

In which case, I think, we could get the maroon stars footmat to go with the maroon hygro cotton towels. Actually, I quite like this green in the stars, no, that hygro cotton green is too washed out. Or (and this is not a bad idea) we could get the orange and yellow benetton with the blue in the hygro cotton, but I’m not sure about the footmat then, cos I don’t like blue for a footmat. So what about a white footmat? White? We could get white towels. White towels are beautiful. Is there white in the hygro cotton?

How long have we been here now? I would not be surprised if it’s been an hour. How many towels have we looked at? I would not be surprised if it’s eighty six.

The fluff and the dust and whatever other shit they put in towels when they manufacture and package them is flying around us. I can see it in the air and feel it clogging my lungs.

‘I wish they’d turn that music down. How are we supposed to think with the music loud like that?’

The boys are sliding along the floor, poking each other, calling out ‘pillow fight’.

The mister keeps his calm.

And I start to cry.

‘It’s okay,’ he says and holds me. I rest my head on his chest. I could really let go now. I could cry and cry and cry. ‘It’s silly,’ I say. ‘It’s silly to cry like this.’

He says: ‘it would be, if it was just about the towels’.

Still to come on Adelaide from Adelaide in Abu Dhabi:

– how a commitment to zero waste ended in a saucepan filled with rotting orange pulp;

– how to dry a king size quilt cover in a life with no washing line;

– and How Adelaide Plans to Celebrate her 40th birthday with a current total of No friends (in close enough proximity, I mean, not wanting to cast nasturtiams on what are the Best Friends in the Universe and with whom Adelaide would ordinarily spend magnificent celebratory times).

UPDATE Oh no! I didn’t mean to sound so down about my birthday. It will still be rocking. The mister will think of something. He always does.