I remember the day in Switzerland when my dear friend, Emmanual, pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket, blew his nose into it, and then put it back in his pocket. I was confused and surprised. I thought such practices were beyond archaic - extinct!
I remember my mom's stories (or story that has been told multiple times) about how she used to practice ironing with her father's handkerchiefs.
And now, in 2011, I use them as well.
My handkerchief history, personal experiences, goes back to 2003 or so when I first went to the Dominican Republic. I learned of their magical ability to mop up sweat and the handy-handhold they made when tied to a water bottle.
When I started contra dancing this past year, I shoved a handkerchief into my pocket before each dance to use through the night.
When I bike in the cold, my nose runs. I used to just carry around socks in my backpack to pull out at stop lights. It was after a few weeks of sock-to-nose contact that I realized I could just jump ahead and use what was meant for that purpose.
I usually have a few on me, stuffed into the pockets of my pants, backpack, and the corners of my box. I can use them to mop up spills, blow my nose, wipe sweat, create a clean eating surface, play with, collect scraps of paper to dispose of, and anything else a small square of fabric would assist you in.
I don't feel grossed out at all each time I pull one out and try and find a clean corner is. The truth is, most of the time I don't know where I've blown and where I haven't.
And best of all they don't go in a landfill and don't cost me anything to maintain (except the minute amount it costs to wash them).