The cats showing up for dinner at five on the dot. My rage at the fools who’ve highjacked the term for a convivial late afternoon party, and made it a symbol for boorish ignorance. The sun rising in the east — you get the idea. Things I can count on.
Here’s a fourth: Ian Moss McArthur, whether he’s wearing his gardening jeans or his tux, has a folded handkerchief in his pocket. In fact, he keeps one in his pajama pants. I know this because he’s my father, and I’ve been around for a big chunk of his eighty-three years. They’re good quality, surprisingly pricey, and he irons them every time he pulls a load of whites from the dryer.(He’s a master with an iron — I can press a mean dress shirt, but his virtuosity with the Sunbeam makes me look like a lousy laundress. The engineer thing, I guess.)
Somehow, that classic item in the top drawer of every lady and gentlemen’s chest of drawers has disappeared, I suspect from the yuck factor. My brother, Ian Leyland McArthur, dubbed them “Dad’s snot rags” when he was a waggish six year old. Sure, Daddy would sneeze into it, blow his nose occasionally, but we always had boxes of tissues around for hard-core colds and grippe. Somehow, handkerchiefs have gone the way of cloth diapers; a tiny niche market.
I own hankies, pretty ones, but mostly they get tucked into an evening minaudiere once a year for a wedding or restaurant outing that demands that attention must be paid, wardrobe-wise.
I think it’s time to bring back the handkerchief, not just the delicate embroidered hankies, but the full-sized men’s version. Here are a random three from my top drawer: two little lovelies fit to drop at the feet of a likely young player, and a big beauty that my daughter bought at Moji when she was at the US Open last August. It’s smaller than a tea towel, but bigger than a handkerchief.
Here are my Top Ten reasons for buying a three-pack or two of men’s handkerchiefs and having one always-handy in your pocket or purse.
- Well, let’s get the dull environmental thing out of the way. You get it.
- This is the easiest laundry you’ve ever done. Throw them in with your whites and your washer won’t even know they’re there.
- You don’t have to put them in the dryer. Take them out damp, and iron them. It’s easy and fun.
- If you are, like me, a lady, who, um, glows,in hot weather, dabbing at your face with a handkerchief is a more dignified solution than my habitual move — pulling up my shirt to mop my face.
- I’m told Japanese women use them in Ladies’s Room situations — do you really want to waste your time with that damned hand blower when there’s no paper towel on offer?
- If a skunk has sprayed your sunflowers, or you’re dealing with smog in Saigon, it’s a handy mask.
- If you’re sobbing in a cab when you’ve realized your lover is a louse, one hanky takes care of a whole little package of purse-sized Kleenex.
- If you’re picking up seashells or pebbles, you can knot the ends to make a tidy package.
- If you’re transporting a croissant back from the bistro fabric works better than a paper napkin.
- OK, you’ve seen him across that crowded room. Drop it. He’ll pick it up, and he’ll see that you’re the realization of a dream.
- This just in: my husband is anti-hanky, but he did bring up one excellent use: cleaning your glasses.