Today’s Rebellious Thoughts on Lap Napkining

Lap nakpining.

If it was a phrase that had been legitimized by official linguistic and vocabulary publications, lap napkining would be described as “the act of laying a napkin on one’s lap due to societal and cultural pressures seemingly out of date, yet continually reinforced throughout dinners everywhere.” And while it might be long-winded, it would be quite an astute description of just how confining and idiotic the act of lap napkining has become in our society. And while such opinions might be rebellious…

…today I’m going to embrace such thoughts with open arms.

Some people take a picture of themselves every day for a year and turn that into a YouTube video for all to see. Others track their checking account balances while others pay attention to weather patterns, weight gain and sunrise/sunsets. But me? I have spent numerous years tracking my usage (or lack thereof) of the lap napkin in dinner situations.

And I’m here to tell you that the necessity value of lap napkining is pretty much a moot point.

In over 3,488 dinner situations, I placed a lap napkin on my lap over 50% of the times (or 1,259 times). Dinners consisted of everything from spaghetti, pizza, red clam chowder, ice cream sundaes and bao. Out of the 1,259 times I used a napkin — food particles that fell or splattered only ended up on the napkin a mere 5 times. Out of the times I didn’t use a napkin, pants and/or dress shirts were soiled with errant food splatters…only 3.

Now are you starting to get my gist?

Lap napkining is a form of peer-pressure cultural slavery, in a nutshell. If you sit down at a dinner with friends and see everyone lap napkining away — what do you do? Well, you either try to disregard the pressure you’re feeling to start your own lap napkining…but eventually someone will say something and you’ll give in. And for what reason? What horrible thing might happen if you choose to keep your napkin on the table, near your hands, where you can grab it when you need to wipe your mouth or blow your nose?

This line previously included a slew of obscenities hurled at the act of lap napkining, FYI.

Look — I don’t get into this whole lap napkining thing. I don’t. I don’t care what other people are doing at the dinner table, and I don’t care how many people look at me or glare at my nether-region in an attempt to allude to the fact that I’ve forgotten “one very important aspect of the dining process.” I don’t care if two times in my entire life an escaping piece of meatball falls forth from my open mouth and stains my pants. Big deal. That’s what washers were invented for. And I’m a man. I don’t need to feel like I’m wearing a cloth skirt at the dinner table. I like to cross my legs. Even under the table. And lap napkining doesn’t work with crossed legs, if you must know.

It falls right through the space between.

So go ahead and keep lap napkining away if you must. Protect your beloved white jeans from marinara sauce. But know that while you’re lap napkining you’re also giving up your individuality and your personal respect at the same time. If you’re okay with surveillance cameras in your cities (hollah, UK!) and you’re okay with giving up your personal freedoms thanks to the Patriot Act (woot woot, USA!”) and you have no issues whatsoever with the sensless killing of outerspace Thetans now entrenched in your bodies as we speak (do ya hear me, Scientologists!?) — then the act of lap napkining is probably just one more thing you’ll deal with.

But I won’t.

Not anymore.

I welcome the splatters, the stains, the food rubs and the sauce drips. I stand strong in the face of streaks, slips, and butter knife tumbles. I remain a masculine man of manliness, wearing no cloth skirt whatsoever, and not afraid of the meatball mash, the jelly jump or the sundae slip. I don’t care, nor do I fear them.

And I am definitely not getting into lap napkining just because you say I should.

And in other news, tomorrow brings us yet another edition of “Words For Your Enjoyment”! So, if you’ve got an idea for a post and you’ve got the cajones to submit one — then we challenge you to do so. Did that threat make you do it? No? Well, there’s a dollar in it for you if you do. Kidding. WFME will not bribe people with prizes. Never.

15 comments on “Today’s Rebellious Thoughts on Lap Napkining

  1. James Cooper - November 30, 2006 at 12:31 pm -

    I never fell into the habit of lap napkining. I gave it a try once, but it just never took. Something just seemed wrong, no, pointless about it. Now I understand why I’ve felt this way all this time. Thank you Paul, for such validation.

  2. Jeff - November 30, 2006 at 12:53 pm -

    I always found that the lap napkining hindered my ability to sneeze. Now I keep my napkin just under my nose at all times while eating. I keep my plate in my lap. The table I use for a footrest.

  3. Alison - November 30, 2006 at 1:22 pm -

    My kids have wholeheartedly rejected the notion of lap napkining. I’m not sure if I should care or not.

  4. Pauly D - November 30, 2006 at 1:41 pm -

    James – You’re welcome.

    Alison – You should care, and you should praise your children for such forward thinking.

  5. Dawn - November 30, 2006 at 2:32 pm -

    You know, Martha (Ms. Stewart if you’re nasty) says to half lap napkin for lunch, and full lap napkin for dinner.

    Just so you know.

  6. sandra - November 30, 2006 at 5:06 pm -

    I have a confession: I’m a fake lap napkiner. I’ve always thought it was stupid, but feel like it’s socially unacceptable to leave the napkin on the table so tuck it under my legs. I’m SUCH A REBEL.

  7. The Blogderdasher formerly H.F. Peterman - November 30, 2006 at 7:48 pm -

    I always put my napkin in my collar and wear it like a tie. I would like to see the numbers on that one Pauly

  8. Kathleen - November 30, 2006 at 8:58 pm -

    ok, is it…. uh – “unique” that I have already tested this out on myself?

    I tried using napkins both ways, and I prefer the lap.

    I use less napkins this way. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it’s because when the napkin is in my lap, it lies flat. and when it’s in my hand I crumple it up?

    (puts head down)

    I sound pathetic…

  9. Eve - November 30, 2006 at 9:38 pm -

    I only put my napkin on my lap if it’s one of those big clothes napkins that take up a lot of space on the table so there’s nowhere else to put it aside from your lap. No food gets passed my boobs to get to my lap, so really, I’m just putting a napkin that I’m wiping my mouth with onto my lap, thereby dirtying my lap.

  10. cinekat - December 1, 2006 at 5:27 am -

    You’ve obviously missed the entire point here – the constant and continuous need to retrieve the (former) lap napkin from the floor to which it’s fallen – allowing in the process potential spillages and upsets on the way up/down, the stealing of savouries to place in your purse (or the speedy removal of nasty inedibles into same), and the spiteful observation of who’s wearing white socks.

  11. Kathleen - December 1, 2006 at 11:14 am -

    wow Eve.

    I wish my boobs were that big.

  12. Gina - December 1, 2006 at 11:26 am -

    As a member of the service industry, in fine restaurants in the northeast, I’d like to dispel a cloth napkin myth. As I read here, many of you are under the impression that the cloth napkin is supposed to be used. But the purpose of the cloth napkin is actually to make your dining clothes fancier. Many customers mistake the napkin for a tool to use to wipe one’s face. But ’tis a falsehood. Restaurants provide cloth napkins so that guests may better fit into the environment. Kind of like a courtesy jacket. Except not all restaurants are able to outfit people with real jackets, so a piece of cloth should suffice. Thus, you have the napkin. The cloth napkin must always be worn on the lap. (Have you ever noticed how unabsorbent the cloth napkin is? Clue: not meant to absorb anything.) Servers will shun a diner who has actually wiped his or her face with the fine cloth napkin. Don’t do it. You may find extra charges on your bill.

  13. jj - December 2, 2006 at 7:48 pm -

    Oh, Paul, it is not the napkin, it is the panache in being able to understand where it should go. Do you just use any old fork too? I bet you don’t bow for the Queen. Geeze. Next thing you’ll be saying that burping and passing wind are natural acts so you’ll just go ahead and let them fly whenever you feel the need. It is called decorum…dear. Look at how much better Britney would have looked last week if she had a napkin in her lap.

  14. annie - January 3, 2007 at 12:05 am -

    When I was a wisp of a young woman, I used to place my napkin next to my plate and use it throughout the meal. One day, my first boyfriend pointed out that it was rather unappetizing for him and any others who might be at the table to have to look at the stains I left on the napkin over the course of my meal. Voila–I was cured and have always placed the napkin on my lap ever since.

  15. Sadie - April 25, 2007 at 5:56 am -

    I always enjoy reading about rebellion against social pressures to conform, especially in subtle and frequently unnoticed forms. Who made these rules anyway? Let the naplin police find me!

    But I am also the first person to request common politeness if it appears lacking, which seems to be disappearing daily.

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