The Attorney At Large’s Guide to Urban Manners, Part V: Napkins
Posted on June 2nd, 2011
There are two things you should know about me. First, I hate paper napkins. Hate them. Second? I hate used napkins on the table. Everything I have to say about napkins flows from these two facts.
I have a kid. I eat at hipster and/or inexpensive restaurants, where I am generally lucky if everyone is eating with their mouths closed. I understand that paper napkins are something I must suffer. Even at home (and I’m cringing to admit this), I have a stash of paper napkins, because while I appreciate P knows in which drawer the cloth napkins are stored, she has a “one wipe per napkin” rule, and there can be a pile of a dozen cloth napkins on the floor in under a minute. While I don’t iron my napkins (usually), I do get annoyed when I must wash a laundry load made up entirely of napkins.
I understand that paper napkins are cheap. They are compostable. They don’t require a laundry service. No one has to iron them. They don’t stain. They are easy for restaurants. But I hate them. They are cheap and flimsy and gross. And the cheaper and flimsier the napkin, the more likely it is I will have to use ten of them instead of two. So here is the crux of the matter – what the hell do I do, mid-meal, with the eight crappy, greasy paper napkins that I’ve had to use?
Because the other thing I hate are dirty napkins on a table. Actually, I don’t even care if it’s not a particularly dirty napkin, if it’s been in a person’s lap, it doesn’t go back on the table. Would you put used Kleenex up there? I don’t know why other sites will tell you it’s OK to put your napkin by the side of your plate when you leave the table: it’s not. It’s gross, and I don’t want to look at it. Put it in your chair. The only exception I can think of is if you are sitting in lovely white upholstered chairs and your napkin has smeared barbeque sauce on it. Still, I think 1) your hostess is an idiot for combining the two and 2) you should be clever enough to fold your napkin in a way that doesn’t get sauce on the upholstery.
- Don’t blow your nose with the napkins. Unless you have no Kleenex, and it’s a paper napkin, and you’re at a child-friendly establishment, in which I don’t have a huge problem with it. (Properly, you’d excuse yourself from the table and go to the restroom, but if you have a child in a child seat eating peacefully, leave the peaceful child and use the napkin.) But don’t you dare put that thing on the table!
- This should go without saying, but if you drop a napkin on the floor, it stays there. Ask the server for another one.
- Flatware rolled in napkins: another thing I hate. I don’t care if it’s been folded into an origami Ornithomimus (although admittedly that would be cool): don’t do it! I understand the convenience (plus the fact many people can’t set a table), and I know this is the reality of the places I eat, but – ugh. If you’ve been trained to put your napkin in your lap almost immediately after sitting (technically, one should wait until the hostess puts her napkin in her lap before doing so), what does one do with a silverware roll when there is no tablecloth on the table? I don’t want to dump (presumably) clean flatware on the probably not as clean table. So. Gross.
Oh, these are first world problems, aren’t they? But the world really would be a much nicer place with cloth napkins and tablecloths. I’m sure of it.
(This post is part of a series, because I love nothing more than being bossy and verbose. It’s true!)