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Frilly towels, fancy soaps let guests know they’re unwelcome

Our bathroom contains a bar of soap that’s never been opened. It perches on a shelf, wrapped in floral paper, bound with ribbon and adorned with a plastic ladybug.

Even if car grease blackens my arms and grass clippings stain my hands, I dare not use this soap.

It’s for decoration.

I don’t understand useless decorations disguised as a thing of practical purpose. They’re like those barely there guardrails that line the dropoff side of West Virginia mountain hairpins — cosmetic purposes only. Should I overshoot the road, my faith lies in the mountainside oaks and aspens to block me from rolling all the way into the holler.

On one of our crazy road trips, I stepped into the guest bathroom to freshen up. Frilly towels placed just so adorned the fancy rack. Matching froufrou washcloths nestled atop the stunning but pointless towels. Soap carved in exquisite patterns graced a scrolled soap holder.

I peeled off my T-shirt, soaked it under a gold-plated faucet and sprinkled it with Comet I found hidden beneath the sink. After I washed up this way, I dried my hands on my pants. Why? Because I knew the trauma I’d inflict upon the decorator-in-residence if I had used the guest soap, guest washcloths and guest towels even though they were — follow me closely here — soap, washcloths and towels. Set out for guests. Which we were.

We slept on the floor rather than jostle the artistically arranged mess of elegant pillows smothering the guest bed. I tried not to dent the plush carpet.

The only thing out of place in the guest room was us, the actual guests.

Why do people populate their homes with useless things like silverware that has to be gently washed and lovingly polished after every meal? When I eat there, they give me plastic sporks.

I’ve been invited to dinner at houses where colorful, happy plates festooned with images of Star Trek or Elvis or the covered bridges of Ashtabula County sat conveniently right out in the open.

But try to set the table with a series of Franklin Mint Official Bicentennial Commemorative plates plucked from the wall, and your host will toss you out the door without dinner, even though you dusted the plates thoroughly with your shirt sleeve.

When we were kids, my brother had a Woody Woodpecker cereal bowl shaped like a hollowed-out log, and a “wooden” milk mug carved and painted with Woody’s face. The set was both decorative AND practical. We used them joyfully.

But don’t touch the collectors’ plates! Adults have forgotten how to have fun.

I’ve seen impressive displays of dazzling teapots, none of which you’d dare fill with boiling water. They might break. For tea, the curators keep reliable dinged and dented aluminum kettles on their stoves.

How about the folks who burn delicate candles even though the petite flickers can’t muster enough light to allow a guy to read even a comic book with big pictures.

“They’re scented candles,” I was told. “For ambiance.”

If you need to cover up smells, fry bacon. Not only will it perfume the house in a pleasant aroma, but it gives you a head start on supper. That’s ambiance.

It’s time to rid our homes of all those things that have no practical purpose.

Hey, why are you pushing me out of my own front door?

Send a diet water to Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or at www.burtonwcole.com.

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