In the 1995 classic Clueless, Tai goes to her best friend Cher’s house to use her swanky-ass electric fireplace to burn items that she had saved from a boy whom she had in turn felt burned by. She pulled each item out of the bag to explain their significance and the first thing she pulled out was the towel. Established jerk, Elton had used the towel to ice Tai’s head after she embarrassingly fell at a house party in the valley. For Tai, the towel represented a brief moment in time where there was genuine affection between the two of them. For one split second she didn’t have to speculate if Elton really liked her and it was all symbolized in that towel. The only way to forget that moment is to burn the memory.
This deeply-relatable movie moment is over-shadowed by the iconic line, “You’re a virgin who can’t drive” and the shadiest eyebrow lift in history. But after seeing the movie to the point of line-for-line quoting, it isn’t the “virgin” line that I gravitate to. It’s the reason why Tai kept the towel in the first place, why do we ever keep the towel? I think about all of this as I hold onto to my own (more modern version) of Tai’s Towel. 3 months old and 23 seconds long, it sits on my cell phone and I honestly can’t even tell you how many times I have heard it. All I will admit to is I know it by heart.
As single women, why do we rely on these flippant, momentary gestures to create happiness? Why do we make them mean so much to us, when rationally they are just nothing? A small piece of dating advice that I firmly believe in is: “Do not think that you are a guy’s exception, you’re the rule.” And I know this, have known this for years. Even when I was in a committed relationship I still gave this advice to my single friends and always kept it in the back of my mind. So then WHY do we hold on to Tai’s Towel? Is it because not only does the memory bring us a moment of happiness, but does it make us feel, just for a second, that we are the exception?
In a recent dinner with one of my single girlfriends we discussed the trials and tribulations of trying to figure out men. Why do we hold on to these small gestures and moments but then are so quick to erase them from out memory? We honestly couldn’t answer our own question, but we both admitted that we still do it, and will probably continue to do so. I’m slowly beginning to remember that dating sucks, even if you don’t go on dates, putting yourself out there is the worst…and the best. I’m not sure if I am ready to burn my towel, erase the memory and pretend it never happened. I think instead I’ll refocus, create moments of happiness from my own making and keep my towel incase I bump my head in the valley.