One of my purchases from the early days of the pandemic was a package of ladies’ handkerchiefs. This was in the days of empty toilet tissue shelves. This was also spring, the time of endless Kleenex for the sneezy, nose-tickling days of pollen season.
I could never find a satisfying solution with paper tissues: who wants to bring a box of Kleenex with them to sit in the garden and read a book? Those little travel packets of tissues are too bulky to fit in a pocket, and the tissues are too hard to get out of the soft plastic pouches, and then once you start removing tissues, the package becomes this collapsed, crinkly, messy thing that could be mistaken for garbage even when it still has tissues in it. And then there are the used tissues to contend with — a large pile of them when the nasal waterworks are really going. If you’re out and there are no garbage cans anywhere, you have to deal with these soggy papery things that might shred into snotty pieces in your purse, or get forgotten in your pants or jacket pocket then run through the wash to make wads of linty paper balls in your washing machine and clothes.
Despite these annoying features of paper tissue, I never did anything about it. Then Covid wiped out all paper products for body and household cleanup, and I figured if the end was coming, I could at least have something to blow my nose with. So I bought handkerchiefs.
I have to say, they’re even more wonderful than I’d hoped they’d be. I keep a clean one in my purse for those times someone needs to wipe their glasses, fingers, or nose. During the day, I keep one in my front pocket; the ladies’ hankies are nice because they’re small enough for the tiny pockets of women’s jeans. When I garden or mow the lawn, both of which inevitably make me sneeze, I tuck one somewhere on my person.
These handkerchiefs bring me joy when I’m not using them, too. They’re dainty and cute and flowery, which delights me. And they’re super satisfying when they’re ironed, then creased and pressed into flat, folded squares that I can fold again to tuck in a pocket. When they’re not ironed, they’re harder to compress into a compact, easy to fold and unfold square, and they become a wad of fabric instead of a wad of sodden paper. So when I’ve got a large stash of clean handkerchiefs that need pressing, I pull out the ironing board and watch something fun while I iron my hankies. I used to watch Schitt’s Creek while I ironed, but it’s not on Netflix anymore, so now I watch The Great British Baking Show instead.
But the best surprise of the handkerchiefs is how perfect they are for running, especially in the cold of fall and winter or during allergy season, all of which make my nose sob. This used to be a really annoying problem, what to do about my dripping, running nose. I certainly don’t want to have to keep track of a pile of used Kleenex while I’m running. Where would I put them? Usually I ended up blowing snot rockets, but I’m rarely able to get a completely clean launch, so I’d wipe my face with my sleeve anyway, and then I’d have wash my whole jacket, and often my gloves too because things get messy out there and a streaming nose is hard to contain.
Now, I set out a pressed, folded hanky with my running clothes each night. I tuck it into my sports bra, or now that I have my fancy running jacket, I fold one into my pocket when I leave the house for my run. About a mile in, the hanky comes out, and keeps coming out pretty much until I return home. Back at home, I toss it in the laundry basket, and I put my jacket and gloves — clean and snot-free — back in the closet for tomorrow’s run.