bath towels

If you catch me in a bath towel, I will not bat an eye.

Plenty of people have seen me “bath towel naked.”

Allow me to explain.

When I was ten years old, there was only one thing I was concerned about regarding college. Coed housing. The sole knowledge I possessed about dorms was that the bathrooms were not attached to the rooms and sometimes boys and girls shared the same hall. I feared such an arrangement for years.

What if I dropped my towel? What if someone pulled my towel off me? What if there was a couch barricade in the middle of the hallway and I had to crawl over top of it, wearing only a towel?? These were the scenarios that kept me awake at night. I would run through them time and time again, trying to identify the best solutions, should I ever need to use them. And did I ever.

You can imagine my horror when I inadvertently selected to go to a university where this was the only type of housing option available to incoming freshmen. Read: I did this to myself.

My first year of college I carried my towel, a change of clothes, and all my toiletries with me to the shower. I would change in the impossibly small death chamber that was the changing room between the shower and the rest of the bathroom just so a guy wouldn’t see me in a bath towel back out in the hallway.

I lived in an all-girls wing on a coed floor. The guys didn’t even come into our wing, but I was living a childhood nightmare. Logic wasn’t a part of it.

Sophomore year complicated things. ruined my life.

I moved into a different building on campus with lesser bathrooms and a greater random assortment of males and females. There was no longer the comfort of a changing room between the shower and the bathroom. There was no longer the safety of an all-girls wing. It was just me, and everyone else.

Naturally, I decided to take on this challenge the way I do most things. I bit the bullet and started wearing my bath towel to the shower. This wasn’t an easy thing for me to do. My dorm was exactly half way between both women’s bathrooms, and my option was to walk past the open lounge to shower, or walk down the heavily guy infested right wing of the floor.

Eventually, I got used to it. I passed mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, strange friends, custodial staff. I’d have towel conversations, pre-shower, post shower. It didn’t matter. What I didn’t realize was these encounters were preparation for something unthinkable. Something that would have ten-year-old Haleigh running for the hills, looking for a rock to call home for all of eternity.

…I believe it was a Wednesday.

It started out just fine. I walked off to the shower, pink shower caddy in tow, pink towel, my pink and black Adidas sandals, happy as pie. The sun was shining, I had not a care in the world as I told my roommate to enjoy class and took off to the bathroom.

It was a good shower. No one flushed a toilet, so the water didn’t scald my back. No one came into the bathroom at all, in fact. It was the perfect dorm shower scenario.

I grabbed my towel and wrapped it around myself, stepped out of the shower and drip dropped down the hallway. I lackadaisically turned the knob to my door. The jolt of rejection unnerved me. With adrenaline pulsing in my veins, I tried to turn the knob again.

Nope. This could not be happening.

I had actually locked myself out of my dorm, post shower.

This is so cliché! I thought to myself, as if though nothing worse were about to happen. I decided it would be best to get it over with, so I placed my pink caddy next to my door and carried my soggy self down to the front desk. As I pushed through the metal swinging doors, my worst fears were realized.

It was tour day.

I handled it like a champ. I really did. In those few milliseconds of registering what exactly was happening, a big smile planted itself on my face, my shoulders rolled back. I decided to be the poster child for the American college experience.

“Hey, how’s it going?” The smile stayed on my face. “I locked myself out of my dorm.”

All I could hear was the snickering laughter from senior high school students and their mothers. The murmurs from the fathers. I could feel the embarrassment flowing through my entire being, but I was determined to ooze confidence despite a rapid heart beat and the dizzying sound of radio static blaring in my head. My thought processes had shut down. Nothing in my 20 years had prepared me for this.

The desk assistant decided she, too, would help me model how to be the oldest cliché in the book.

“Oh no! Okay, what’s your room number?” Her smile was punch-worthy.

“215…”

She handed me the key and the check-out card, at which point, with an audience behind me, I said in all my nudity, “Yeah, can I just fill this out when I have some clothes on?”

“Mmm…No, you’ll have to fill it out right now.” I hate her to this day.

So, that’s how I broke my fear of bath towel interaction. Or so I thought.

Junior year I moved into an off campus house, and it has managed to be worse in terms of overall privacy.

I moved off campus and landed myself in a pretty awesome trap house with one bathroom for six residents. It’s a poppin’ house. There are only 5 of us now, plus the occasion significant other. But that’s another story.

The house is old. Like, 75+ years old, old. There is no heat in the upstairs hallway and bathroom. Things are in places that don’t make a lot of sense. Like the upstairs smoke detector, for example. It lives right outside the bathroom door, waiting for its unsuspecting victims.

One below freezing winter’s day, I hopped in the shower. But it was cold outside of the shower, so I turned the hot water up high and let the steam billow into the small bathroom space.

I returned to my room, thinking nothing of the bathroom door I had left ajar behind me. I threw my hair up in a towel turban and plopped into my bed. Buck. Ass. Naked. I was probably checking email, maybe I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. I don’t know. I had not a care in the world.

Suddenly, the smoke detector went off. In a normal house, this would be fine. In a normal house, you would take the towel off your head and wave it maniacally under the smoke alarm until it stopped. In a normal house, you wouldn’t have a semi-defunct, unlockable, emergency-responder-contacting security system that invites firefighters to your home in the event of a (non)emergency. But this isn’t a normal house, so we, at that time, did have such a system. And it did call the fire department. And I did greet them, in the driveway with a pink bath towel wrapped around me in 25-degree weather.

But not before I ran smack into my landlord’s husband!

I don’t know why my landlord and her husband were there. I don’t know why they managed to forget their own security code. But I do know I wasn’t particularly thrilled to be standing before them, wrapped only in a towel, trying to explain to them that they would have to call their son’s ex-girlfriend because she knew the code. None of it was really the level of familiarity we’re at. I hope they’ve forgotten, I know I haven’t (clearly).

That wasn’t even the last time someone has managed to encounter me in a bath towel. I don’t know how it keeps happening.

I don’t know why I have so many traumatic bath towel stories.

I guess it’s just my lot in life.

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