27 January 2011

Ode to napkins

Napkins can be anything: paper, cloth, recycled brown, printed party, big, small, tiny, thin. They can be made of denim jeans or the seat of your car or your own skin when your hands need assistance. Napkins can be made of water in your shower when you are wiping the sweat of a workout or a long day off of your skin. Napkins accept substitutes: tissues and paper towels and toilet paper and decorative guest bathroom towels can do their job just as well--and sometimes better, if you find your mess to be especially delicate or maybe very stubborn, and require a special attribute and talent offered by each stand-in. A piece of clothing draped across the shoulder or chest of a mother, lover, or good friend can be a great napkin, especially when your mess is very heavy and tender. Sometimes napkins are kind words that fall to kitchen floor on top of your mess, their graceful descent to the ground hesitant yet committed. Sometimes those words cover the mess and soak it right up into their fibers, its absorbency complete like juice on paper, the result a strange thing of beauty. Sometimes the mess is so big and dense that the napkins can't quite clean it up; instead, they even disintegrate into the mess, hardly distinguishable from it, and you can't tell if they were an initiation of or a response to anymore. But, hey, at least they tried. Napkins really try to do their best, you know.

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