Damn, I hate it when things pop out of my mind after less than a minute. What was I thinking of? Something about Dad that was to go into the blog Patchwork Riddles. Food related? (The memory popped into my head while I was taking a hamburger out of its bag.)
Not Ichabod. Ah, yes. The stack of napkins. I've been getting cheap hamburgers lately. Why isn't pertinent, but I don't promise not to write about it later. What matters is that lately several different fast food outlets have been putting wads of napkins in the bag, even with a single hamburger. And it's wasteful to just throw them out. And it would fill up the landfill to just throw them out. And several dead people in my life would frown on just throwing them out. Not to mention that they might be useful at some point.
So I have a small stack of them in the car and a growing stack of them in my desk drawer. This reminds me of Dad, one of the disapproving dead people mentioned above. He didn't buy quick hamburgers while driving through to somewhere else. Oh, sometimes he would eat a hamburger or a taco if Mom went and got them and brought them home. But if he was going out for food he wanted to sit down and have someone come to the table to get his order.
While my parents lived in Willow Creek, California, they ate twice a day at a restaurant called The Flame. I do not recall that The Flame handed out multiple napkins. Possibly my father collected them one at a time. He was both a very neat eater and a germophobe, so the napkin probably stayed under his dining utensils to protect them from the non-sterile public table.*
Another possibility is that he would bring partial portions home, and they would put a napkin into the bag with the boxed leftovers. There may also have been napkins put in with the jimmies** that were sometimes purchased from the deli counter at the grocery store.
However they came into his life, they would be stacked on the counter of the kitchen island, on the outside corner to the left of the stove. They were available for use in any situation that warranted it. Mom still bought paper towels, and there was no nagging about using a paper towel that had to be paid for when there was a perfectly good free napkin available. They were just there.
I don't think the stack ever got more than three inches tall. And I seem to remember there being different styles and colors of napkin in it. So either they came from more than one source or The Flame liked to mix things up napkin-wise.
There was never any stated attempt to use them from the bottom of the stack, so the lowest napkin was probably the eldest. I wonder if it was possible to do napkin archeology on them, peering down through the strata and reconstructing a culinary timeline. That would be complicated, I suppose, by the fact that he didn't just collect them, he used them too. That would add erosion to the deposition of the stack. Hmmm.
I also wonder if they packed them and brought them along when they moved.