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February 19, 2024

A Towel and Me

By Dan Mulhollen

I'm wondering that myself, and I'm the crazy woman in question. Also, why did I pick such a short, flimsy towel? Only about an inch of material separated relative immodestly from "Nice bikini waxing, there lady."

I should state that I am not an exhibitionist. If I were, I would not have been wearing the towel to begin with. I still haven't found curtains for these stupid arched windows, and Mr. Jessop, across the street, seems to enjoy the binoculars his grandson got him last Christmas a bit too much.

So I was walking from the shower to my bedroom for another couple hours sleep. I looked outside and noticed a maroon-colored sports car, like the one Marty, my 'ex', supposedly bought after our divorce. He was always a control freak, and I would not put it past him to snoop.

The thought of catching him in the act short-circuited my sense of discretion. I rushed outside, and started pursuing the vehicle. For someone making a getaway, the driver was unusually soft on the accelerator. Also, as I got closer, I realized the car was more of a cherry-red than maroon. Also, it was more a family sedan than a sports car.

As I crossed onto the traffic circle, it dawned on me. I had chased someone, not my ex-husband, all the way down the street in a time most pro running backs would find impressive. Not to mention being barefoot and wearing less than five square feet of fabric. Isn't adrenaline wonderful? Actually, this wasn't that bad. It was a nice morning to go for a short stroll.

No, this wasn't Marty's sort of neighborhood; not snooty enough. I remember him using the threat of "having a lower social standing" as incentive to remain married to him. Right, he cared more about such things than me anyway.

I started walking back toward home when I saw Mrs. Dooley standing on her porch. Luckily, the normally eagle-eyed Mrs. D failed to notice me. To her, I was a young, recently-divorced trollop looking to wreck her marriage. In truth, Marty was probably more Jake Dooley's type than I was. But then, most of the people on this street were in denial about something or other.

Hiding behind a large maple tree just across the traffic circle, I waited for her to leave. Only she did not leave. Instead, she sat down on her porch swing, lit one of her unfiltered Camels, and started reading what was probably a romance novel.

The last thing I needed was the town gossip seeing me in this condition. There had to be an alternate route. Through the back yards, perhaps? I took a mental survey of each back yard, checking for things like dogs, security systems, and early-risers. Most, I knew, were sleeping off last night's partying.

The Landers had a large Rottweiler bitch, who looked intimidating, but was really a sweetheart. She would be about the only non-judgmental one on the whole street.

That left the Mortons and their high wooden fence. Getting in would be easy enough; the Landers always had a ladder in their yard, they fought a lot and one would regularly wind up chasing the other up a tree.

The Mortons had a large picnic table and always had a few empty coolers sitting around. I might lose my towel there, but I'd land safely in my own back yard.

So, I began my trek home by rushing through the Feeney driveway into the back yard. Mark and Meg Feeney would be asleep past noon. Their parties usually lasted until 3 or 4 in the morning. Still, I noticed this rush of excitement as I trespassed onto their property.

A part of me wanted to take the towel off there. I could probably be home two or three minutes sooner if I didn't have to worry about exposing myself. But there was the thought of going to jail as a sex offender. I kept the towel on.

After the Feeneys came the McWilliams, the Hersheys, the Middle Eastern family whose name I never could pronounce, the Shores, and finally, the Landers. Each of these were easy and I began feeling more optimistic as I entered the second last yard before home.

Karla the Rottweiler ran up to me, the stump left over from having her tail docked moving quickly back and forth.

"Good girl," I whispered, petting her neck.

She sniffed me, seeming curious about my attire. Then she gently took the edge of the towel in her mouth, wanting to play tug of war.

"No, girl!" I said, panicking, but still keeping my voice to a whisper.

My brain shot into overdrive. One yard to go before mine. Mortons usually nine-to-five sorts except weekends and holidays when they would kick back and enjoy their clandestine harvest. Worth the risk.

Feeling the towel being pulled away, I sprinted towards the next yard. As I climbed up a ladder I looked back and saw Karla looking at me, disappointed that I did not want to play.

"Some other time," I said, apologetically, as if having upset a child. She looked at me, snorted, and started tossing my towel around, proud of her trophy.

I carefully climbed down into the Landers' yard. Something was wrong; the potheads were awake. Rushing over to their in-ground pool, I quietly lowered myself into the water. I moved closer to the house, keeping my head just above the water line, and listened.

While I did not know the Jim and Jan Morton very well, their preference in substances suggested (at least to me) they would not be offended to find a nude woman in their swimming pool. Yet, going by the clichés I was raised to believe, I worried they might see me as someone with whom to live out their wildest fantasies.

I remained mostly submerged.

It turned out there was only one of them awake. He or she was using the microwave oven, and apparently returned to bed once finished snacking.

I cautiously stepped from the pool, ready to dive back in at the slightest hint of being caught. One minute passed, then two, and only after three minutes did I feel safe enough to resume my trip home.

The picnic table was a good twelve feet from end to end. I lifted an end, pivoting it to come flush with the wall. Then I found an insulated cooler larger than some office refrigerators. I lugged it over to the table and sat it on top, butting it up against the wall.

As I climbed onto the table, I wondered if everyone were awake that morning, how many pairs of eyes would be watching me. Mr. Jessop, with his binoculars, would have seen me very clearly. Mrs. Dooley would have had to strain her neck a bit, but would have seen me climbing onto the cooler, grasping onto the wall, and vaulting over.

Actually, I was quite proud of that move. Like a pole vaulter, I had a firm grip on the plank's spear-like top. I took a large step forward and put all my strength into lifting myself up. My body arched over the jagged boards, landing on the soft dirt of my back yard.

I sat there for several minutes, slightly bruised and very muddy. It was not exactly feeling the "thrill of victory" I was feeling. It was more the relief in knowing I would not have to move due to a momentary bit of paranoid idiocy.

I hobbled back inside and went into the shower to rinse off. As I left the bathroom, I looked at the large arched window, realizing that I had not put on a towel.

"You win!" I said, looking over at Mr. Jessop's house. "Enjoy!"

Maybe this would keep me from impulsively rushing outside. Maybe not. Maybe I am an exhibitionist after all.

-- Dan Mulhollen

Article © Dan Mulhollen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-10-27
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