the towel privilege

So you’ve found someone.  You’re about to embark on a lifetime adventure with your soul mate, someone who gets you, someone you’re simpatico with.  I congratulate you.  And I just want to mention something:  When choosing your towels for your bathroom, please remember: these are the towels you must have for the rest of your life.  They’re not the towels that you will eventually discard in five years when you move from your starter house to your dream house, deciding on a whole new set and color scheme to coordinate with your bathroom.

Look at them.

Look at the towels.  If you try to get rid of them, where will they go?  You can’t sell them.  No one, no matter how needy, wants five years of your scrubbed skin.  Those towels must remain yours.

And your car.  Look out the window at your car.  That car was forged in the blast furnaces of oil hell.  Just for you.  Just so you can move your body – eighty percent water, some calcium, iron, a tracery of other minerals, and a glut of bacteria – from point A to point B.  There are gallons and gallons of oil invested in that car.  All of the plastic encasing your internal combustion engine, the seven gallons in each tire, the oil resin in the windshield.  That car took a tremendous amount of energy to create, a tremendous amount of natural resources.  It is not to be traded in when the little tics it develops and wonky behavior becomes too much for you to be bothered with.  No matter that they dangle a deal in front of you to get an even newer car for a lower monthly payment, I assure you, you can’t do it.  That car is yours for the rest of your life.  Some people don’t even have cars.  Some ride five to a motorcycle.  When your car breaks down, you fix it.  This means you must learn how it works, or live with someone who does.  A car, given the proper maintenance and attention, can live much longer than the paltry two or three years we tend to allow them before discarding or trading up.  That car can last you the rest of your life.  And it will.  It has to.

In fact, all of this applies to every other technologic device in your life.  It means your cell phone, your computer, your flat screen TV, all of it.  You need to keep them running, to keep them functioning well, because they’re all you’re going to have.  You can’t upgrade that phone to a greater bandwidth, or the TV for more megahertz.  There’s no trading in the laptop when it starts to get slow or picky.  These are your machines.  You must know how they work and how to upgrade the technology yourself, if you want to keep up with the joneses.  And it will surely keep you busy, too, because the growth of technology is exponential.  Every new platform is more sophisticated, and so the subsequent leap in evolution is even greater.   Technology will only get more and more advanced, faster and faster through shorter stages.  Hang on for the ride.  Put your engineer cap on.

You better hope your fridge holds out, too.  There’s no swapping that one for a brand new brushed chrome, two-bay version, either.  Maybe, okay, maybe you can get one of those big trunk-sized freezers while they’re still somewhat plentiful, and haven’t caught on yet.  You’re going to need these big gizmos, because you’re going to need to store food for longer and longer periods of time.  You can’t keep going to the supermarket and buying more plastic-wrapped goodies each week.  You’ve got to dig up your lawn and plant.  And then you’ve got to have storage, like a fridge.  It would be good if you could rig yourself a granary, too, and grow wheat and grains.  If you’re in the middle of the desert, living in a fake paradise like Las Vegas or something, I’m not sure what to tell you.  That Kentucky Bluegrass growing on your front yard is not native to your region, that’s all I’m saying.

The top soil covering our nation is a junkie, dependent on the fertilizers (which come from petroleum) that we feed them.  You’re going to need to go ahead and pee all over your backyard (urine contains ammonia nitrate) and get out the shovel and start planting.

See, someone people walking around (and you know who they are) actually think that it’s possible to continue extracting oil forever.


They will tell you that the moon is responsible for the rising ocean levels, or that the “wobble” of the earth on its axis as it revolves around the sun is why the climate is changing.  Or they will say you are “cherry picking data” to observe that the hottest years ever on record have all occurred in the last decade.  That a “500 year flood” is just an exaggeration.  That you must be trying to solve the world’s problems and not paying enough attention to your own if you explain how studying glaciers can show the contents of the atmosphere for millennia, and that carbon 12 is a recent addition, corresponding with the dawn of our industrial age.  Just as the population boom (from 2 billion to 7 billion) has corresponded with the industrial age.

See, because we can’t keep lying to ourselves about it anymore.  And having little shops that sell overpriced “organics” is not going to change a single thing.  It’s not about wearing hemp and settling on a favorite green slogan.

It’s about those towels.  The stack of them, sitting there in top of your dryer, in your linen closet.  It’s that we got it into our heads somewhere along the way that we could have as many towels as we want to for our whole lives.  That towels, and towel making

1.)    creates jobs for people who otherwise are unfortunate and live in underdeveloped nations and wouldn’t have such wonderful employment without us

2.)    is a part of the economy.  If you pull towels out of the economy, it starts to collapse

3.)    is a God-given, nationally-protected right of ours.

Somewhere along the way we started confusing privileges with rights.  It is our privilege to walk on the earth, to harvest its food and animals, to steward over it, not our right.

Let’s not split hairs here with “rights” and “civil rights.”  It is a privilege to pursue our happiness, not a right.  It is a “civil right” that we should not be blocked in how we choose to pursue that happiness.  And this is what people cow to, and this is what people hide behind.  We’re not talking about whether or not it is your constitutional right to have as many towels as you possibly could ever want.  We’re talking about the responsibility of it, because now, well, I’m here to tell you that it’s too late.

You can’t travel anymore because you crisscrossed the globe in jet-fueled planes so that you could take pictures of faraway places and eat at a McDonalds that was set up there anticipating your arrival.  You went everywhere you could for every reason:  Family, work, pleasure, to spite your parents, to colonize, to homogenize, to watch TV in a different hotel room.

Now, you have to stay home.  You have to stay home because the planes are grounded.  And the car you see when you look out the window, that baby is finally and irreparably damaged, and there is no more gas for it anyway, so you can’t do the work of a thousand horses for the cost of a cup of coffee anymore.  Because after a bumpy plateau of $3.87 a gallon, then 4.25, then 3.89, then 4.90, then 4.55, then 5.25, then 16 dollars a gallon, that shit just got so expensive that you were pissed off driving back from Wal Mart one day with all of your towels in their plastic bags and you got into an auto wreck.

So that house you’re in, that’s what you’ve got now.  And that food growing in the backyard, that’s what you’ll eat.  And those people who are your neighbors, who you can get to on foot, that’s your community.  It’s up to you and them.  That is the future, and that is your life.  So I’m sorry to say that the plans for the new bathroom with the color-coordinated towels is just not going to happen for you.

Maybe your friend who lives across the river, a seamstress, will trade you some towels for the summer squash that seems to grow better on your side of the water.

That’s something, when you think about it, that actually makes a little bit of sense.

It’s been a privilege talking with you.

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