Monday, June 27, 2011

Use a Handkerchief, Please!

Reggie would like to bring something to your attention, Dear Reader.

He thinks you should use a handkerchief.  No, he is not referring to what is rather euphemistically known as "facial tissue," such as Kleenex™, but rather to an old-fashioned cloth handkerchief, the kind your grandparents used.  Well, at least Reggie's grandparents used . . .

Reggie carries a handkerchief with him most of the time, and he finds it most useful to have one with him.  In fact, he cannot understand why the regular use of handkerchiefs has become something of a rarity in our society today.  Even amongst polite people.

A baker's dozen of white cotton handkerchiefs,
recently purchased at Brooks Brothers

In order to qualify for Reggie's approval, handkerchiefs needn't be white, they needn't be expensive, nor must they be monogrammed or edged with lace.  A plain, inexpensive cotton one with stitched edges will do very nicely, thank you.  If one prefers not to carry a white handkerchief (unlike Reggie, who does, at least most of the time), one can find handkerchiefs in any number of appealing colors, including solids, patterns, and prints.  A diminutive colorful bandana is perfectly suited (and sometimes preferred) to be used as a handkerchief when one is feeling in a country mood.

Just carry a handkerchief, please.

Reggie has heard many people say they would never use a handkerchief, as they consider carrying one filled with snot to be disgusting.  Well, Reggie agrees, a handkerchief filled with snot is disgusting.  But he is not suggesting that you do that, Dear Reader.  If one has a horrible cold, producing a lava flow of mucous, Reggie believes one has no business being out in public but rather should be at home in bed, attending to such matters privately.

No, he is advocating that his readers carry a handkerchief with them when out and about, because he finds one to be a remarkably convenient and versatile accessory when he is out in public, away from the niceties and hygenic pleasures of his home.

While Reggie uses the handkerchiefs he carries to occasionally blow his nose or sneeze into, tasks for which they are admirably suited, he finds handkerchiefs to be far more versatile than merely being a receptacle for one's nasal effluvia.

When one is out on a hot summer's afternoon, a handkerchief is the perfect choice to mop one's sometimes sweaty brow, and a far preferable choice for doing so than using one's sleeve, a degraded practice he has seen engaged in by certain baser sorts in public during the warmer months.

A handkerchief is a most useful protection, too, when used to grasp something when one is in public that one doesn't particularly care to touch with one's naked hand, such as a grimy subway strap handle, or the knob of a door leading into a heavily used gas station restroom.

And Reggie far prefers to use a handkerchief when he is overcome by the sudden need to sneeze, which he frequently is in public, as opposed to using his bare hands, or the more recently advocated practice of using the crook of one's elbow instead of one's hands.  He is not so sure that this development is an improvement on the former.  But he is more than confident that neither of these options are an improvement over using a handkerchief.

Now some people might ask, "But Reggie, why use a handkerchief when a Kleenex™ (or similar) will do?"  Because, Dear Reader, a handkerchief is sturdier  than a Kleenex™, it doesn't rip apart, and it doesn't pill, all of which said Kleenex™ does.  Also, if one inadvertently leave's one's handkerchief in the pocket of one's trousers, one is not then confronted with a disintegrated, wadded mess of what once was a piece of Kleenex™ when one reaches one's hand into such trousers after they have been laundered.

Others might also say, "But Reggie, don't you find carrying a used handkerchief to be rather unpleasant?"  Well, Dear Reader, it is all a matter of degree.  Just as I change my undergarments daily, so do I replace the handkerchiefs I use each day, so I can be assured of having a fresh one at hand.  That is, after all, why one does laundry (or if one is very fortunate, that is why one has one's laundry done).

But I do carry a handkerchief, and I do use it, and I think you should too.

Tell me, do you?

Photograph by Boy Fenwick

39 comments:

  1. Husband Jim is a handkerchief carrier and always has been. I can't imagine anyone NOT using them (although many do) -- his are white and are every year Christmas gifts!

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  2. Women's clothing rarely is equipped with pockets of a sufficient size to accommodate a cloth handkerchief, so never have carried one. But you make me want to rethink that. Perhaps could keep one in the purse?

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    1. My thoughts exactly. I love carrying and using hankies, but none of my dresses have pockets, and I don't always have my purse on me (especially when I am at home). But I do need one on me at all times, and can't figure out the lady's way to do it without dedicating one hand for it at all times. Any ideas/suggestions? Thanks!

      SoftJazz

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    2. My grandmother kept hers tucked in the cuff of her sleeve when wearing long sleeves and when not...tucked under where the shoulder strap meets the cup of her bra ;) Somehow that didn't seem odd at all.

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  3. I am in complete agreement. But in everyday practice, I usually have a handkerchief only if I am wearing a jacket or coat, less of a probability these days. But the sweat factor is an important one, so I will reconsider my full wardrobe before next leaving home.

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  4. It is definitely a practice that has fallen out of favor. I remember my mother and grandmother always had lovely embroidered ones in their purses, and my father still carries one today. I also seem to remember an old tradition that if someone gave you a handkerchief as a gift, you gave them some money back (just as a token) for good luck. Now if only I could remember why ...

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  5. Hello Reggie:
    We are entirely at one with you here with the practice of using handkerchiefs for all of the purposes which you outline. However, we are not of the school which supports the dubious fashion, in our view, of sporting them in a breastpocket. This is only made worse, once more in our opinion, when said handkerchief in said breastpocket is accompanied with a selection of pens, seldom fountain and, most often cheap biros.

    Personally we do not favour coloured or patterned or decorated handkerchiefs, preferring only to have plain white. As always, we are fortunate in having Tímea who launders them to perfection.

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  6. I say here here. Just the other day my mother asked me to pull a handkerchief from her drawer, her current one just a little rumpled, but she wanted a fresh one. There I found a pile of hankies, some dads, (white and plaid)
    and a towering stack of hers, flowered, plain and all neatly ironed and folded. I'm a big fan of the niceties, just like mother.
    And you.

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  7. I love the idea but they always are so bulky in the pocket. Perhaps I should look into a smaller sized variety.

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  8. My father insisted on handkerchiefs (need for, proper folding of, etc.) and I've tried to kick that into a teen aged son, so I agree totally. However, decent (white, linen, plain or hemstiched) women's handkerchiefs are impossible to find. If you or your readers have any sources, I would certainly love to know of them.

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    1. http://www.brooksbrothers.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Merchant_Id=1&Section_Id=377&Parent_id=248&Product_Id=1013263

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  9. Dear Mr. Darling,

    I'm back from my travels and I see that I've missed some wonderful posts while I've been away.

    As a suggestion to your commenter "Marion", I'd like to propose that she visit a few antiques collectives in hopes of procuring
    a hanky. Just recently, as I was rummaging through a neat stack of antique tablecloths at such a collective, I struck up a conversation with a fellow shopper on what she was buying. Turns out she had rediscovered the joys of carrying a handkerchief and was adding to her collection.

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  10. Many years ago, I came upon a family clearing out their Grandmother's apartment- there was a decrepit looking box on the sidewalk which upon closer inspection was full of flowered handkerchiefs in their little glassine envelopes- I asked if I could have them and was told to take them-She had been a schoolteacher for many years and these were given to the girls as awards for academic achievements- Over the years I have given them as little gifts- they really are charming

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  11. I carry a beautiful white linen handkerchief in my handbag at all times. I love the softness of old linen and they are great for polishing ones sunglasses. Reggie, is that a black basalt Wedgwood vase in the background of your handkerchief photo?

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  12. This is one of the reasons I like you so much.

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  13. My husband always carries a white hankerchief. I have been known to borrow it at times. As I have small children, I tend to carry a supply of the dreaded Kleenex in my purse, but I try to keep a clean hankerchief in there, as well. One can purchase vintage hankerchiefs at antique shops, sometimes with one's own monogram, for very little money.

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  14. My husband uses handkerchiefs daily. He buys them in bulk whenever he finds them on sale. His primary use of them is for mopping a sweaty brown.

    I suppose your list of handkerchief uses makes sense, but I am somewhat of a germphobe and the idea of using the same cloth to open a dirty restroom door handle, then the subway strap and THEN use it on my face...I don't think so. If I don't want those germs on my hands, I most certainly do not want them on my face.

    I also used to teach elementary school and the school nurses now teach small children to sneeze into the crook of the elbow to prevent the transmissions of germs from grubby little fingers to everything else in the classroom.

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  15. Grandfather Darling kept a white handkerchief in a pocket of every jacket and pair of pants. When I helped with the packing up of our grandparents' final apartment, I removed 90 handkerchiefs from his various pockets!

    xox Camilla

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  16. I certainly do, sir. However, a gentleman does not sweat, he perspires, Mr. Darling.

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  17. My father- always impeccably groomed, and ever the gentleman- had about two dozen white monogrammed handkerchiefs and carried one every day.

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  18. Horses sweat, men perspire and women glow.

    I used to glow my way through many hankies (my grandmother's) a week, when I walked to the subway in the summer in the olden days.

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  19. Dearest Reggie,

    I have foisted a proper handkerchief upon my husband, it caused a little consternation but he finally came round and has even mastered the origami required to fit it into his top pocket.

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  20. I give handkerchiefs to my Father and he loves them and I think that a true gentleman should always have one - especially to lay upon any puddles that may present themselves. My Aunt would say, "You think you are funny, but you are snot."
    pve

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  21. Yes, Reggie, I couldn't agree more. It seems to be a better ecological and more economical choice, too. My father had lovely white handkerchiefs as well as some that had a plaid border, which were for weekend use, I guess. He still gets a few for Christmas every year.

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  22. Love them for funerals, weddings and damsels in distress. And certainly they are fabulous for the occasional mishap. However, the germaphobe in me does squirm at the notion of using it to blows ones nose...unless it is an extreme emergency!

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  23. I have one in my purse always. Wonderful ones are available in antique shops that carry vintage linens, and they are rarely expensive.

    Handkerchiefs are absolutely indispensable at teary movies and sentimental ceremonies, and as you say, at many other times. If I have an awful cold and have to go out, then I carry a wad of Kleenexes and toss them when used, but for everything else, there is nothing so feminine as a handkerchief, even the ones which aren't lace-trimmed or embroidered.

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  24. My father always carried two: a red "hanky" for himself, and a white handkerchief in case he ran across a crying woman.

    I know a Cleveland Park child who receives linen handkerchiefs from the tooth fairy, something he's been doing for a generation or two of this child's family.

    Brooks Brothers sells nicely sized handkerchiefs in a baker's-dozen package. That's almost two weeks' worth for those of us who carry--and change daily--our handkerchiefs!

    And, to reiterate the ecological advantages, this packet of handkerchiefs costs no more than a few boxes of Kleenexes.

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  25. I carry two. The one in my left rear pocket is for me, and the one in my right rear pocket (which is ALWAYS clean) is for whatever beautiful crying woman I stumble upon. And, yes, I've had it used twice. Oddly, by the same woman.

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  26. Why would anyone use a tissue when a beautiful
    white handkerchief is available my HB always carries one.
    Well done Reggie as my Grandmama would say 'standards must be kept up at all times' Ida

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  27. I have been carrying a handkerchief for over a year and don't know how I got along without one. Actually, I carry two: one cotton (I have several that my grandmother embroidered) and one silk, for cleaning my glasses.

    It is very useful to be able to wipe one's nose or hands in public in a graceful way.

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  28. One to blow and one for show, Reggie. Always. And Turling is right, a spare is handy. I wrote about this yonks ago, and find myself in entirely the same frame of mind now as I was then. Well said!
    Being Manly: One to Blow and One for Show

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  29. I have always carried one handkerchief in my back pants pocket and another in my shirt pocket. The one in my pants pocket is for dusting chairs and drying my hands in a public bathroom. The one in my shirt pocket is for cleaning my glasses and the like.

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  30. Hi there, eco-minded hanky-users! You might be interested in this new product which negates the "ick" factors of regular hanky use. Really funny video commercial on the website too!

    http://sleevesecochiefs.com/public_html/Welcome%21.html

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  31. I absolutely do! I wouldn't leave home without one.

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  32. There is a new book entitled "Diary of the Handkerchief: History of Fashion Accessories Series" by Ida Tomshinsky. This book is anything, but short or abstract. It is complete and fascinated and very interesting and readable... great story of art, fashion, and history in one book. The Florida author is in competition race with James Fenimore Cooper's "Autobiography of the Pocket-handkerchief." I recommend to purchase both books and enjoy the history and present of the beautiful four-squar object that is a piece of vintage textile and a practical accessory in the same time.

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  33. I almost always carry two in my back pockets: the one that has been designated for my various uses for the day, and one that is reserved to lend out to a lady in distress or in case of some other emergency. I find them infinitely more practical than a kleenex, as well as a good nod to a bygone era.

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  34. absolutely using handkerchief is important as it allows you to clear your face compare to using tissue paper which is not too much environment friendly

    Shop72
    Online shop for Handkerchief

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