Yet another good prompt and writing exercise inspired by Crafting the Personal Essay.
A list of people who baffle me and the things they do that make no sense.
- My hubby’s relationship with time and timers
- Morning people
- People who clean when they’re mad or at the end of a long day
- Arrogant people who believe they’ve earned the right to comment on my life
- Moms who love to do crafts with their kids
- My husband’s inconsistencies about housekeeping
- A man I know who reuses napkins and paper plates
I chose to write about the man I know who reuses napkins and paper plates:
There is a man I know who shall remain nameless. He has many baffling habits, many of which have become endearing over the years.
One of these habits is NOT endearing.
Every time I eat at his house, I must beware as I reach for a napkin. And every time we’re at a picnic together, I eye him warily if he hands me a paper plate.
“Is this clean?” I’ll ask.
“Oh, yeah. It’s clean,” he’ll answer.
“Yes, but is it new?” I ask.
“Oh, well, I used it this afternoon to eat my sandwich and chips. I dusted it off; just a few crumbs.”
In addition to the possibility of eating off a used paper plate for lunch, I must beware of pulling a napkin out of the napkin holder. The first time I chose a napkin for myself off his table, I wondered at its somewhat crumpled nature. So I took a closer look. Were those grease stains?
“Wait a minute. Have you used this napkin?”
I bet by now you know the answer.
What?!?!?! While I am baffled by this behavior, I do have some understanding of it. He grew up in the home of a woman directly affected by the Great Depression. Napkins, paper towels, and toilet paper were like gold in those days. I can’t imagine the kind of suffering she must have endured to pass on such enduring habits to her son.
Me? I grew up in the home of a woman of German descent. You wouldn’t know it by looking at my house, but Germans are known for their cleanliness. This same endearing man once told me that in a village where Germans lived with dirt floors in their homes, they swept their dirt floors daily. I think this is as baffling as offering me a used plate for dinner.
My mom and grandma are testaments to the strength of heritage. At my mom’s house, you can eat off the kitchen floor. At my grandma’s house, I’d dare say you can eat off the floor in the bathroom.
If someone offered my mom or grandma a used plate for a meal, or a used napkin! I shudder to think what they might say. Even if they held her tongues, they would NEVER eat with that person again.
Now, I’m not ready to beg off eating with this delightful person. Nor am I nearly as cleanly as my maternal relatives. I would not advise eating off any of my floors. In fact, I’d prefer if you do your best to keep your gaze at eye level. Otherwise, those sneaky dust bunnies and their cobwebby pals might just scare you away.
However, I do draw the line at sharing napkins, and I definitely prefer a clean paper plate. In fact, I’ve been known to throw away the top plate on a stack of brand new paper plates, if it’s been sitting open to the air for more than a week. Why eat those dust bunnies and cobwebs of that one if I can use the clean one it’s been protecting all that time?
I daresay that if that dear man who offered me his lunch plate for my dinner knew that I routinely throw out unused paper plates he would as confounded by my behaviors as I am by his.
Whose behavior confounds you?
Do share with me, but please be kind and don’t name names!
Written by: Angela Magnotti Andrews
Exercise inspired by: Dinty W. Moore