Tag Archives: heirlooms

The Napkin

I salt my napkin. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. My husband is used to this, and after years of marriage, after years of going out to eat, he now does it as well. It’s simple: Your drink arrives with a little cocktail napkin. You thank your server, and then you reach for the salt shaker, pick up your drink,
and shakeshake a little salt on your napkin, and for the rest of the evening, your drink won’t stick to that napkin. But when I am with people who don’t make it a habit to dine with me, it’s as if I’ve performed some kind of obscure pagan ritual, something so completely foreign it’s as if they are looking at me with new eyes, like, ohmyjesusgod what else does she do – paint herself with chicken blood? And I say, I do it so my drink won’t stick to my napkin, and there’s this moment of stunned silence. And then – gratitude. Because I’ve given them something. They reach for the shaker, they salt their napkins, and then they pick up and put down their drinks over and over again, thrilled, much like babies who’ve figured out how to transport Cheerios from their chubby fists into their mouths. Every time. I tell them that I learned this from my grandfather. And I realize this is what it means to be immortal.

I raise my glass to Big Neil, and the napkin stays on the table.