After a few lean years as a uni student and an even stingier nine months as a backpacker, it was the first brand-spanker I’d bought in a while, and maybe the excitement of a new stick made it easier to snatch up one of those hip-looking garments everyone was sporting pre- and post-surf.

Something about them appealed to my imagination. They were cloak-ish and seemed to suggest surfers were a part of a secret sect, a wild people who trailed sand behind them wherever they went.

I took the hoodie towel for a spin along with my new board. Both pleased me immensely. The board felt loose and lively under my feet; the hoodie towel made me feel like Aragorn son of Arathorn and dried me as well. Money wisely spent, I thought.

As the months wore on, though, the hoodie towel got less use. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the thing, I was sure I looked as fashionable as I’d ever looked while wrangling my unwilling limbs into a wet wetty, but the towels kept getting in the way. They’d show up in the back of my car whenever I’d go surfing, they’d wrap themselves around me before I even noticed their better-looking cousin lying at the bottom of the wetty bucket. After years of using crusty beach towels whenever I went surfing, the habit proved too strong to break. The hoodie towel went unused, the beach towels just got crustier.

Eventually my better half requested I bring the hoodie towel in for a wash as part of her continued efforts to instil sanitation into my surfing, and the poor thing never made it back to the wetty bucket. For an age it lay stashed away among old steamers and booties, remembered only when I’d see some trendy convert wearing one as they changed in or out of their suit. Then, as such things happen, it was passed on to the dog as a blanket, where it’s been chewed and dick-dribbled and drooled on ever since, where it lies in a mire of hair and filth, loved by one more faithful than I.

But maybe it’s for the best things didn’t work out between us. As suave as the hoodie towel is, there’s something artful about the long-time surfer’s use of a beach towel—the graceful wrap and fold, the swift shimmy as the strides go off and the wetty replaces them, the ability to rarely stuff it all up and end up starkers in front of a crowd of shocked onlookers.

And besides, the hoodie towel just hadn’t put in the hard yards—it’d never doubled as a blanket on a cold night in the back of the wagon, it’d never been used to mop up blood or beer, it just wasn’t designed to have the contents of my nose blown into it after every surf—and that means more to me than looking like Aragon ever could.

The dog still loves it, though.