At lunch the other day, one of my colleagues tucked a paper napkin into the top of her blouse in order to catch any liquid she might drop off the soup spoon as she steered it towards her mouth. She had a cold, was suffering badly but still managed to look cute. Unlike the man in a sit com joke who is meant to look stupid and out of place when he sits down to eat and does the same thing. Other diners exchange snobbish superior smiles as he tucks the checkered cloth into his shirt top. They, of course, know the rules and their napkins are resting neatly on their knees. However, as we all can testify, the lap is not an easy place to keep a slippery piece of linen and 5 minutes into the meal it invariably ends up on the floor. For those of us who chew with our mouths shut and don’t frisbee food all over themselves, this is not a big deal. The annoying thing gets left on the floor. However, messy eaters constantly bob up and down to pick up the errant square of fabric, often hitting their heads on the table as they come up for air. Plates, drinks, cutlery leap up from the impact as do the other occupants as wine, water and food spill onto them. Any unsecured napkins fall to the floor in the melee offering no protection whatsoever against the sudden onslaught. Suddenly wearing a bib seems to make more sense – at least for those who can’t contain their meal to the area of their mouth.
I’m a linen on the lap kind of person and when I see someone tucked up like a baby - I shudder. I admit it…. I’m a napkin snob. However, I think even fellow lap linen lovers will agree that I took it one step too far when a guy I had been dating for a couple of months took me out for dinner. I watched in horror as he tucked and bibbed himself in a checked cloth as big as a tea towel. It covered the whole of his front!! Noting the smirking faces of diners and waiters, I am ashamed to admit, I was totally embarrassed and couldn’t wait to get out of there. I’d been having doubts anyway but this clinched it and we parted ways. Was that bad of me? Of course it was. But I paid the price, he was spared a snob for a girlfriend whilst I lost a good guitar teacher and (while we were dating) free lessons!