Upsetting Day: Carnival Towel Creations with Freddy 🌭

You are 12 years old. Your grandmother just returned from a three month cruise. She’s been to Lisbon, Malta, Istanbul. She’s traveled the world, visited exotic places rich in culture and history. She has gifts for you. I want you to close your eyes and picture the worst thing she could possibly give you.

“Let’s have some fun with towels,” is a troublesome statement. In a locker room it means you didn’t tuck tight enough and now you’re about to show your dick to the coach. In a barracks it means you let down the platoon too many times and now you have to pay for it. But let’s put aside the inherent despair of this premise. Let’s focus, just for a moment, on Freddy. Freddy the Carnival Cruise Towel Monster. Freddy, whose body is formless chaos, whose eyes screech madness from the prison inside his skull. One look at Freddy and you know, reflexively, that it’s your duty to die fighting this thing so the rest of humanity might live.

If Freddy is an actual mascot present on a Carnival Cruise Ship, I promise you he gets the shit beaten out of him several times a day. That costume must be armored. Wearing it is a punishment for cabana boys who don’t wear condoms. Donning the Freddy costume is the cruise variant of putting someone in the stocks. The Freddy head doesn’t even come out of storage until the ship hits international waters. Nothing about Freddy is fun, and he is on every page of this book. Doing nothing. Bending, pointing, jumping – if you flip the pages fast enough he’ll do the dance that ends time. Freddy is such a fucking walking atrocity that he overshadows the numbing sadness of this book, which is so tragic they have to put the words “fun ships” in quotation marks.

“Create your own towel family!” is a real sentence on the first page of this book. That’s some shit Freddy says to a cruise orphan. It’s deranged. Carnival says they “received literally hundreds of requests for a new, expanded book.” A dangerous lie, just like the smile carved on Freddy’s face. But let’s pretend it’s true: That means there was a first book, they learned nothing from its failure, and they convinced a roomful of executives that kids love towels, twice. If I walked into a pitch meeting like “we all know kids love towels,” I’d watch the table carefully to see who nods, then hit them with a flamethrower and say “now that we’ve destroyed the Thing infiltrating your company, let’s do the real pitch.”

The whole premise is succinctly and perfectly engineered to make sure no human could possibly think it’s a good idea, it’s a reverse Voight-Kampff test, and yet real money has gone into bringing this to life. It’s a hardcover book with thick high gloss paper, full color photos on every page, and it is way longer than you think. Somebody saw this-

And said “yes, you’re right, kids would love to do hours of whimsical laundry – you just earned a promotion, Wilford Brimley Head With Tentacles.” And this is even assuming the towel sculptures fucking kick ass. That there is a Michaelangelo for every medium, and towels have waited for millenia to find theirs.

That is not the case.

This is their opener. The hook. They hope some rich, demented grandma flips Carnival Towel Creations with Freddy open to the first page, sees a rumpled formless towel soaring through the night, and thinks of home. Family. That’s the only way they sell a book!

The next spot should be a clincher. You set the hook, now reel it in.

That’s actually pretty good, it looks sort of like a snake. Because it is a rolled up towel with sunglasses on it. If I got this back at the end of a summer camp craft session I’d tell the kid I know she played phone the whole hour and she’s getting half rations the rest of the week. Cool Cobra sucks. Cool Cobra looks like he’d be voiced by David Alan Grier in a Christian puppet show about Leviticus. You can’t just put sunglasses on a rumpled towel and call it art, I’d just assume Matthew McConaughey got vaporized.

“Maybe the kids want to fuck the towels?” Wilford Brimley Head With Tentacles says in the brainstorm meeting.

There are confused mutterings, the others avoid eye contact.

“No bad ideas, am I right?” Wilford Brimely Head With Tentacles tries to laugh it off.

No one else does.

Wilford Brimley Head With Tentacles frowns into his coffee.

“This is fucking soy milk,” Wilford Brimley Head With Tentacles sighs.

We all have off days.

They say every bad idea is worth trying sixteen times, and by they, I mean the Carnival Cruise executives hosting Freddy’s eggs.

“Why are the towels naughty?” is a question I’ve only asked once before, when I had the stroke. This shouldn’t have to be said, but if you’re four pages into a towel animal cheesecake pinup book for kids maybe you need a life coach. “Let’s get back on heroin,” your life coach would say. “I feel like we made better decisions with a little horse in us. NO! I didn’t mean it like that.”

Let’s move on-

I really thought we’d be moving on.

This cannot stand.

There was a step in these instructions to give a towel goat individual identifiable buttcheeks. Carnival Cruises asked a child to do that. I don’t think that’s a crime, but I think it will be if I mail this book to my congressman.

Maybe we’re approaching this whole thing from the wrong direction. Maybe it’s not that the book shouldn’t exist because no child would want it. Maybe the book is for children who shouldn’t exist. Like if you give this book to little Suzy and she flips through the pages, gasps, asks with light in her eyes: “Can we make this one?”

You know you’ve been cuckooed. You need to check around outside your house to see if the real Suzy has been pushed out a window and left to starve.

The book calls this one the Honeymoon and it’s normally filled with chocolates and lubricant. Picture anything else in that heart-shaped depression. Your mind automatically sketches in a VHS about the joys of anal. If your kid used one of the good towels to make this you would go wordlessly fight his PE teacher.

You guys did a bunny earlier! It was 114% too sexy but you did it. Why make another, worse one with its face smashed in? We don’t breed pug bunnies. This is a bunny rescue farm for glass door tragedies. And it’s still horny!

If I find either of those last two shapes in my kid’s room I’m putting filters on the internet and we’re done watching Space Jam.

I’m going to say something insane, but it’s absolutely true: These are the best ones.

Most of this book teaches kids how to burn an entire afternoon recreating forgotten laundry.

Guess what that’s supposed to be. Write it down, you’ll get points if you’re correct.

My first guess was Roadkill Duck, but if I squint now I’m seeing Birth Defect Lobster. Actually I’d like to change my guess to Crashed Concorde.

You get no points if you guessed-

Because that is not a fucking crocodile. I’ll give that beast Prone Bone Pyramid Head before I give it Crocodile. I’ll – hold on.

This is a multi-towel creation??

You want children to gather three fucking towels just to make this uncertain heap? If I came back from work to find the kid used every clean towel in the house to make a Submissive Sandworm I would report myself to child services, because clearly the fault lies with the parents.

There are only, generously, like five things you can make with a towel. Too bad this book has about sixty. Because the rest of these are just various mounds, occasionally seductive.

“I love it, Billy! It’s very obviously an Autopsied Otter, and this tells me you’re finally processing your feelings about the divorce.”

So coquettish. So coy. You can really see its come hither stare, and by come hither, I mean it’s saying “come hither and stomp me out of this cursed existence beyond even the peripheral vision of God.”

See, the problem comes from the premise. Origami sucks anyway. It’s complicated and fiddly and your reward, at the end, is ruined paper. Flaccid origami only adds frustration and takes away both results and towels. If you use all the bath towels for crafts I am not going to dry my ass on the turkey wad. That’s an ironic trap for crafty moms, I know it’s stuffed with nails and a hand grenade. You won’t get me this time, Macrame (that’s crafty mom Jigsaw).

“That’s not a bird,” you tell the panicked burglar you caught in your cabin, now trying to convince you he’s a cabin boy.

“You haven’t seen it fly!” the burglar says, hurling it at your face and going in for the tackle.

Here’s a tip: If you have nothing to begin with, slapping some tits on nothing and launching it anyway will only make you millions of dollars. Ask Hololive.

Flipping this upside down and putting googly eyes on was a nice try, but it’s not going to get you less suspended. You think Mrs. Davis doesn’t know a soft cock when she sees it? Ask Mr. Davis.

When in doubt, put sunglasses on a heap. Call it a day.

Actually Carnival called it a turtle, but if you can see the turtle in that image that only tells me you’re still processing some kind of turtle-related trauma. I’m sorry you went to the Coming Out of Their Shells Tour and saw Raphael puking in a gutter out back, but you only get out of therapy what you put into it. You have to want to heal, and the first step is admitting this is nothing.

Absolutely nothing! There were instructions to make this? This is how I would diagnose a busted fortune cookie press. Why’s it got a sideways gash for a mouth if not for a reason, for one specific reason??

TWO large towels and fifteen steps, just to make an abstract shape that no self respecting shark would give a test nibble. If I caught my kid fucking this I would take the filters off the internet and rent Space Jam, knowing I’d gone too far.

This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: FancyShark, who is a shark with dignity and would never nibble on that sad towel seal.

13 replies on “Upsetting Day: Carnival Towel Creations with Freddy 🌭”

“If you flip the pages fast enough he’ll do the dance that ends time.”. Lines like that are why I’ve loved Brockway’s writing for so long.

Brockway, I genuinely hope seeing more articles from you recently means your health is improving. Because if this is a last desperate attempt to cement your legacy, and there’s not going to be anymore Bigfeets, it’s going to turn into a real Falling Down moment for me over here.

boy I’ve done some sick shit to towels over the years, but even I wouldn’t make any of those abominations

I once read a guide written by a former felon on how to use a towel and a rubber globe to make an improvised fleshlight, and the included pictures were less suggestive than the pictures in this book

I note how the descriptions start with Bat and Cool Cobra, and then switch to the cruel mockery of the Sexy series. Well played, Brockway.

Sadly, and unironically, if they put out a dinner napkin folding (fun?) book for adults, I’d be very into that. One of the dining staff taught me a few when I was like nine that I’ve been using for over twenty years now for holiday dinners.

I’ve really missed your writing. This is the hardest I’ve laughed at anything on the internet in a long time!

I cannot fully express my level of shock when I scrolled to the first picture: BAT. Until then I thought, “Okay. a lame idea from corporate, but they probably got- WHAT THE ABSOLUTE FUCK???”

Inoculated, I thought my shock was behind me, but then- Sexy Bunny.

Ya know, Brockway, couple of years ago, you assured me I would heal back stronger every time you broke me. What are your medical/psychological qualifications? I’m not healing stronger, just meaner.

Keep up the “good” work.

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