Today while I was collecting paper napkins from the den, in order to insert them back into the napkin holder resting on the kitchen table, I had a sudden flashback to a much earlier time, and my Grandmother.
Before I relate what the flashback was about, I must tell you why I was gathering napkins from the den. This is my most annoying and almost daily ritual. One I do while stomping and gritting my teeth.
I live with someone who is a paper napkin hoarder. Not any special brand of paper napkins. It could be Scotts, Vanity Fair, Kirkland, or the specialty Holiday napkins. Any brand will do. They might be dinner size, cocktail squares, or threefold as come in a diner holder.
This man who I live with must have a phobia about desperately needing a napkin, and not having one on hand. On most nights we have dinner in the den, therefore the holder, which is always stacked, is not within reach. Dinner napkins are carried in with plates, flatware, and glasses. Some how, probably when I am occupied at the stove, more napkins are secreted into the room. Clean napkins are then hidden behind pillows, under blankets, and in between cushions. I really can’t tell you what drives this hoarding, but it drives me bonkers.
This obsession is carried one step further. Anytime we attend an affair, the following day those monogrammed napkins are on his night stand. Could they be wedding favors and no one told me to take one myself? Why was I left out? As soon as I stumble across these weird mementos, they get tossed in the garbage along with the Wendy’s, Burger King, MacDonald, KFC, napkins. I am sure we will acquire more of those.
All this wasting and hoarding of paper napkins makes me crazy. Not that I have a long way to go, but it truly is one of my button pushers. This brings me back to my Grandma flashback.
When I was growing up money was really tight. What little there was Grandma had in her purse and she held the strings tightly in her worn fists. As you can imagine paper products such as napkins were an expensive luxury. We used linen or a mapine (dish towel). When we did have the paper variety in the house if you took one for anything other than dinner Grandma would take it out of your hand, shake it in front of your face, emphatically, to inform you they were ‘a penny a piece’. I don’t know where she got her figures from, but she said it and I believed her. This from a woman who when you asked her for a stick of gum, which she kept in that same purse, would generously take it out, rip it in half, and give you half. I one time did the same thing to a friend who is the same age as I. This when we were about fifty. He looked at me shocked and said no one had done that to him since his Grandmother.
I am a person who does a lot of silent analyzing of people’s behavior. After some time I’ve concluded that the man I live with grew up in a household which suffered a dearth of paper napkins. Now that he is an adult, has made his way successfully in the world, he feels as if he can have and use all the napkins he wants. I am of another mind.
Myself, I know what makes the world revolve on its axis. No waste. Napkins are, “A Penny A Piece”, my Grandma told me so.
** One hint that ABC news recently gave to help people budget in these tough economic times was to dispense with paper towels as this was something we could do without.