Wtf is up with heated towel racks? I know that it seems like a good idea in the beginning, and trust me if you had talked to me about this two weeks ago, I would have sung the praises of the heated towel rack to the heavens. Now I’m convinced they’re a gateway to Hell.

Let me back up.

Two weeks ago

It’s freezing in the office, and because we’re in a ballroom technically, the heat rises to the ceiling and hovers there like a tauntingly warm stratosphere, while I’m shivering like an Olsen twin in my winter coat and scarf, typing away at my laptop. For a break from the monotony, I decide to go to the bathroom.


After tensely opening the door—I live in perpetual fear of walking in on someone in situ (more like “in shitu”)—I go in and stand there, lips pursed and fixing my hair in the mirror. Suddenly I realize that my bones have stopped quaking and my teeth are not clattering against each other like Mancala marbles. It is blushingly warm in the small bathroom, and the heat is radiating off the gleaming silver heated towel rack.

I stand in front of the heater like a caveman discovering fire, and stretch my hands to the top bar. “Ouch!” The bar is scalding, but in an endearing way, like when a toddler curses or when a puppy bites you. It’s charming, and I excuse away the pain.

After standing in the bathroom for a long time, exceeding the “Is he peeing” limit and teetering dangerously into the “Is he shitting” red zone, I fix my hair once more and exit my newfound sanctuary.

I can’t focus on my work, and notice that I have started shivering again, in a sickening blend of cold and withdrawal from my heated heroin. I drink an entire bottle of water and then go back into the bathroom, pee, wash my hands, and just stand there for a moment. The warmth rolls over my bones, and I try to store it like a camel for later.

“I think I’m gonna start working from the bathroom,” I tell my coworker Amanda. “It’s warm, it’s cozy. I think I’ll do it.”

She assumes I’m kidding so she laughs. I wasn’t kidding, but I laugh too. Better to appear eccentric rather than crazy, and I’m saving my crazy for when I’m famous and can get away with it.


Back in my room, I’m on my stomach against the cold, more-dirty-than-I-would-like-to-admit tiles, iPhone open to a YouTube video in one hand and the other gripping a knob at the base of my bathroom’s towel rack. For ten weeks, it has taunted me with its chilled metal skeleton. There was no obvious button or switch to turn it on, so I obviously avoided it. But, inspired and driven by my new addiction to warmth in my overcast English existence, I was a new man. Finally, after ten minutes of attempting to turn one knob, I realized that I was turning the wrong knob and that that knob was static and would never be turned. However, once I turned the correct knob in the correct direction, the radiator purred to life.

For a while, the heat was temperate, and the effect was sensational. Warm hand towels that were practically dry-cleaned and ironed into position. A toasty tile floor and bosomy heat. Suddenly, the early-morning pee was a delight, and everything was all right in the world. That was the honeymoon phase.

Then, I was getting up from watching Vines on the toilet when I turned and brushed the bare skin of my calf—okay, my upper thigh—against the towel rack. For a second, there was a deadly equilibrium, a bated breath, and then the downward arc of a hammer of pain. It was a heat so hot that it was cold, and burned against me.


Aghhchhh!” I shrieked and scrabbled away from the heat. I looked at the heater with reproach, but the gentle chastisement of a mother who doesn’t want to admit her child is a dick.

But soon, it started happening more often. I would be slipping on a pair of boxers, and back up into the heater and get a branding on my ass. I would reach down to grab a cleanser from the shower stall—I do my facial routine mostly in the shower, but sometimes I like a little freshness midday—and my arm would get scalded.

Quickly, the relationship turned from blinded-by-love Mrs. Dursley to full-blown Mommy Dearest. I hated that radiator, but I wasn’t about to give it up. I have begun to watch my movements in our tiny bathroom, keeping a solid lock on my knees and arms at all times. I’m a whole lot of arms and legs—I’m not so much “lanky” as I am “statuesque”—so this is essentially a fulltime job.


But, despite our tribulations, I refuse to turn off the radiator. Why? Because, I’ll tell you exactly why, addictions aren’t easy to get rid of. I refuse to go back to my frigid past. Much like a climber on Mount Everest, or Mario in one of those pipes in Mario Kart, there’s no way to go but up (in temperature). I would rather be hot and miserable than cold and happy, which I’m pretty sure are mutually exclusive anyway.

I’ve been burned before, but I think I’ve learned my lesson. And frankly, I’ll probably be burned again, because I’m a lot of person and only a little bit of spatial awareness. But I’m too stubborn to be defeated by a radiator, and I’m too stupid to know what’s best for me. So I’ll be mildly uncomfortable with a bunch of superficial burns.



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