Is This You? Ragging out

Something hit me funny just before dinner last night. Something that in our house we do all the time. It has become so commonplace I think nothing of it. I’m thinking, though, if you were at my table when I did this, you might have a second thought about staying for dinner.

But first let me expand on just how informal we are here in the Machacek home. We kick off our shoes when we get home. I sleep on the couch and put my feet on it, too. There’s a nice even layer of dust on all our plants. They get a “dusting” once a year if they look a bit sad and need to breathe through their leaves. We use our dining room table as a catchall and for an office and utility counter. Oh, and I sometimes forget to feed the cat until he comes out rolling a can of cat food with his nose. Yeah, we’re pretty laid back around here.

So with that in your head, you might be able to excuse this. While at the table awaiting dinner my other half moved some of his stuff off to the side to make room for his plate. I said to him as I noticed his “spot” was a bit grimy, “Do you need a rag?” Wait, what? Yes I asked him if he needed a rag to wash the table off. A rag. If you were asked to wash your table off with a rag, would that be appetizing to you?

How could you resist not jumping on that offer just before eating? “Why, yes! Please hand me a rag so that I might swish it around and slop stuff across the place where I am about to eat my meal.” Yum, yum. Where do I line up to get my rag?

I suppose that most people use a dishcloth to wash off the table. The difference between a dishcloth and a rag? About a thousand days of use and several hundred washings. But here, in this home, a dishcloth is known as a rag. Not to be confused with a rag that is used to clean a dropped egg or a spilled soda off the floor. You probably want to know the difference between a rag used to clean up a spill and the dishcloth kind of rag used on the table and counters. Well, a dishcloth is a rag in the sink and when something is spilled on the floor it loses its dishcloth title and is just a rag. Once a dishcloth is used as just a rag to clean up a spill is put directly in the wash. After it’s washed, miraculously it gets its crown back and is a dishcloth — but we call it a rag. See?

Am I kidding myself this is the norm? I don’t think so. This has to be a learned trait. I mean, I didn’t just wake up and start calling a dishcloth a rag. After all, I know what a real rag is. A real rag, something that’s only a rag and no sort of cleaning cloth, is a cutup T-shirt or old towel that’s used to wipe greasy hands in the shop/garage and when it’s used enough and becomes dirtier than the hands it’s meant to clean, it’s thrown away. A real rag is used when painting to wipe up drips and drops of paint that escape the over-exuberant painter’s paint brush. Again, when that rag has so much paint on it, it will make a bigger mess wiping up paint than it cleans, it’s thrown away. Those are real rags.

Oh, we hand out rags in the bathroom, too. Get in the shower without a washcloth? “Hey, hand me a rag,” can be heard from under water. You can also count on getting a rag thrown at you when you need to wipe off the baby’s mouth. But that will always be a clean rag, for goodness’ sake. We’re not raised as little piggies.

It’s a comfort to find out I’m not alone in this rag syndrome. Even though I know there are some who will not succumb to calling some things a rag. Good for you if a dishcloth will always be a dishcloth and a washcloth will always be a washcloth. In this laid-back house where comfort is as important as keeping some sort of chocolate in the house, in more than one hidey hole, a rag is a rag is a rag. Unless it’s truly a real rag!

I think I have ragged on this just about long enough.

Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book ITY BITS is on Kindle. Share with her at


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