family culture wars: napkins vs. kleenex
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on August 1, 2008
When we decided to move back to the US for a bit, we agreed that going out to eat every night (or ordering in) would be too expensive. So, I agreed to cook, and H agreed to wash dishes.
Agreeing on meals isn’t a problem for us – we have highly compatible taste buds. But agreeing on what should accompany those meals has been an ongoing challenge.
To put it bluntly, H and I simply come from different cultures. We arrange our silverware differently: I learned the “Grandpa Knife takes Granddaughter Spoon to the circus, buying a ticket from Vendor Fork” way, while H’s arrangements are more, um, poetic. Or perhaps more conceptual – sometimes we sit down to the table with no silverware.
But this is a minor problem compared to our real cultural battle:
napkins versus kleenex.
I’m solidly in the napkin camp. I’m not a total snob (I know: some of you may disagree on this!) – I am more than willing to use paper towels when out of paper napkins. But my preference is for a proper napkin, paper or cloth: something that to me adds a note of grace to a home meal.
H is equally solidly in the kleenex camp. I’m not sure what his family did for serviettes when he was growing up in the US, but he’s been in Lebanon for a long time, and his parents’ house is peppered with tissues. He thinks nothing of setting a box of tissues on the table next to the salad, – and actually, the box of premium US tissues is a big step up. Discount tissues come in a big saggy box-shaped plastic bag in Lebanon, which makes me like the idea of them sitting on the table even less.
Of course, I know that tissues, paper towels, and napkins all perform the same function. I.e., I know just how neurotic I am being when I insist that colored, printed paper napkins are dinner-table appropriate, while kleenexes are not.
That must be why I found myself doing the unthinkable yesterday afternoon. I had brought lunch from home – a collection of leftovers that harmonized surprisingly well together. The shared kitchen here has forks, but when I sat back down at my desk, I realized that I was napkinless.
I watched in horror as my right arm stretched out toward the box of designer Kleenex semi-hidden behind my computer screen. It pulled not one but two tissues out, which my equally rebellious left arm helped arrange, napkin-style, on my lap.
Oh, the humiliation! Or at least: Oh, the lesson in humility 🙂 🙂 :)!