Americans are obsessed with napkins. Whatever you order, they offer you piles of (paper) napkins. This doesn’t matter much if the food stuff is wet and transferable or dry. I suspect that if you bought, say, a carpet that they would give you some napkins.

My own view is that you should either learn to eat properly; restrict yourself to non transferable foodstuffs; or use your own trousers (my preferred choice).

Now I kid you not, but I watched a Hells Angels biker in an ice cream queue/line the other day ask for additional napkins. I was fully prepared for him to use my trousers to wipe off all of his debris. The US Justice Department consider the Hells Angels to be an organised crime syndicate, but I think that we may have to reclassify them as an anti grime syndicate.

The plentiful availability of napkins is one of the main reasons that my wife likes America so much. She has always been a big fan of napkins, but is a mere amateur amongst American women.

Now in the UK, napkins is a class issue. I’m not saying this is a good thing, but very many things are indications of class difference in the UK. The lower your class the more you are likely to use the word serviette (and the more likely these wipes are to be made of paper). If you are from a higher class, you will use the word napkin. We used to have cloth napkins with accompanying napkin rings.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Melville Bishop on July 14, 2013 at 12:17 am

    My elderly OED defines a serviette as a napkin used by servants. The word napkin derives from the Latin for map (something big) but in France la serviette porte-documents (relatively small) is a brief-case.

    As you frequently, and wittily, observe the world is a strange place.


  2. Posted by Anonymous on July 14, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    We still do have cloth napkins but invariably use paper ones which are so much easier.

    Just a thought – perhaps Americans ask for more napkins because they don’t use tablecloths or perhaps they demand more because toilet paper is expensive to buy or perhaps they even use them as a substitute for hankerchiefs.


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