I am sitting here staring out the window of the suite trying to write a fiscal report for the members of the charitable organization. Why am I trying instead of doing you ask. That is simply because since before I was hired I found it hard to take this cause seriously.
You see it was a few years ago that this odd little charity had popped up on a web site and laid claim that napkin makers around the world were going to give up the practice for reasons of both ecology and the faltering economy of the time. Some person in the paper towel industry even posted a comment claiming that a folded in half paper towel was the replacement for the napkin and as such would of course never have these kinds of troubles.
Companies found their stocks falling due to investors mistakenly thinking the news to be real while others jumped outrageously for the same reason. It seemed to me that some private joke had gone haywire. Never the less my position at the distribution facility as their accountant became jeopardized when orders for napkins fell to the point of near non existence.
I suggested that we diversify into the market for paper towels which was inexplicably growing exponentially. Several restaurants of which my wife and I frequented were now using the doubled over paper towel in their place settings and had gone so far as to remove all napkin dispensers from the establishment. I was astonished to find a large roll of paper towels had replaced the napkin dispenser at the fast food restaurant that my son loved.
We laid off half the floor staff at work and I began to circulate my resume, just to be safe. I even posted it on several employment sites.
The day came. I was told just before lunch on Friday that I would not be required to come in the following week or until further notice for that matter. I went home and told my wife who suggested that I check my email and see if something had come in from my resume postings and submissions.
Allow me to take this opportunity to tell you that I HATE IRONY.
I opened my email to find that I was scheduled for an interview with the “Save the Napkin” charitable foundation. It seemed that the people who had created the entire “Paper Towel Balloon” as economists were calling it were getting so many donations that they were now in the market for an accountant. I sighed. My wife giggled and walked away shaking her head. I figured the giggle was to hold back the laughter.
Two days later I went to the interview wearing my best suit. I thought I was hallucinating! People in this office were wearing clothing made from recycled napkins! Paper clothes? What could possibly happen next?
It was not long before I found out that a former Vice President who had made the ecology his pet project was also on the board of directors for a paper recycling corporation and of course were major contributors to the “Save the napkin” foundation. Who knew?
A company taking advantage of the foundation’s new found popularity began marketing the clothing which was quickly becoming a popular fad. I wondered if I would have to get a new suit for this job.
The interview went as well as can be expected with me in my wool blend blue pinstripe suit and the personnel manager wearing near see through napkin clothing with modesty panels attached in the necessary areas. Double thickness of napkins to cover breasts and even more personal areas. How was this going to survive the next thunder storm? Would someone come up with a water proof version? Was I really imagining this now? The expansion of the recycled napkin empire was not imminent but just a fantasy induced by my exiting the building to see a lady eating a hot dog at a street vendors cart off of a folded paper towel while wearing a napkin dress. This sort of thing could not be really happening, could it?
I talked to my old boss just with the hope of some sort of reduced position or perhaps a salary cut for my job. No such thing was going to happen. He charged it to the “Soggy Napkin Sag.” Yes, that is a direct quote do you think I could make this sort of thing up? My entire life was being crumpled like one of the now recycled napkins that I might be wearing to work in a few weeks. Why me?
I watched the news with my wife that night while we laid in bed. The financial analyst was talking about a possible “Toilet Tissue Turnaround.” I looked at my wife. She was biting the edge of her book that she had shoved into her mouth when she heard the comment and holding her stomach with the other hand as she jumped out of bed to run from the room. I heard the laughter through the bathroom door. I hoped her book fell in the toilet.
She was there when I woke up early in the morning. I had dreams of napkins. The good old fashioned kind not the clothing variety. You know the nice folded ones that fit into the little dispensers that were once on every diner table and counter, the three quarter folded ones that my son used to get in the fast food restaurant he loved, and of course the marvelous dinner napkin that protected your utensils from the table when you sat in the restaurants and could always be found wrapped around them secured carefully with a small paper tie. Where had they all gone?
While I made the morning coffee I could not hep but wonder where the napkin holder that had graced our table had gone. It was a pleasant little chrome thing that held a handful of napkins for our use during meals. My eyes scanned the kitchen. It was not to be found. There was however a standing wooden paper towel holder in the middle of the table with a roll inserted over the center post its end carefully and lovingly threaded through the tear off slot. No! Not in my house. I dropped it in the trash can and sat down to have my coffee and read the paper.
The news paper followed the paper towel dispenser. The front page had just above the fold an article with a rather large picture of a New York fashion designer wearing a paper suit declaring his new recycled paper napkin line. The world had lost its mind. Next thing you know there would be napkin pills for various afflictions or paper shoes. No not that, I had to stop thinking. I moved to the living room for a nice nap on my cotton upholstered couch. This was all a bad dream and when I woke from my nap it would end, wouldn’t it?
My son was watching a cartoon when I woke. “Why are you not in school?”
“They sent me home. Mom picked me up.”
I went to the kitchen. The paper towel holder was back. I gave up on it and looked over the paper at my wife. “Why did the school send him home?”
“Sit down, I’ll get you some coffee.”
Uh oh, this was not going to be good. I sipped the coffee when she handed it to me. She sat in the chair across the table.
“It seems that he ripped a girls dress when he tried to write on it.”
“Why would he write on some girls dress?” I was afraid of the answer but I asked anyway.
“It was one of the new ones.” She tried to avoid the whole story.
“So why would he do that to a new dress and not an old one?”
She looked at her lap. “It was paper.”
I almost dropped my coffee. I was thankful for the ringing of the phone. After a short conversation my wife hung up with her final phrase being, “I’ll let him know.” My face was in my propped up hands when she sat back down. Beside me this time. I got scared. I couldn’t even look up.
“What do you need to tell me?”
“Um hun, You got the job.”
“The accountants position at the … the foundation.”
I jumped up the chair tipped over and I tripped over it. Sprawled out on the floor looking at the wonderful gloss white ceiling I almost felt normal again. The little brass light that hung above the table with its four comforting bulbs was still there.
She was standing over me. “Are you ok?”
My left leg was still hanging over the chair leg that inadvertently reclined me. I wiggled it. “Yup no damage.”
“Good because you start on Monday.”
I hoped the smile on her face was not from true amusement but rather from knowing our family’s financial future was still secure. Secured by the napkins that had nearly thrown it into ruin in the first place. Yes, remember me the guy who hates irony. That same guy was now laying on the floor in his kitchen with his financial future depending on something that his son thought was a practice area for his penmanship while wrapped around classmates and tore at the least bit of pressure.
I got up hoping my legs were not as flimsy as the future looked. Cutting the grass seemed like a good idea. I really needed to handle something solid like a lawn mower. Good old fashioned metal. Just try and cut your grass with a recycled napkin, go ahead try.
I got halfway through the grass and turned off the mower. I went inside the garage sat on my tool bench and stared at the car.
My wife came out. “Are you going to finish the grass?”
“Did the neighbor go inside yet?”
“He is wearing paper shorts.”
She left snorting and holding her hand over her face.
I could only hope he didn’t jump into his pool with them on. This was supposed to end after the nap not turn into a nightmare with visions of my neighbor swimming in napkin shorts. I went in to get something cool to drink. They could not have gotten around to making napkin cups yet. The radio was on my wife was cooking dinner. The weather man was predicting the drought would continue. Well at least I didn’t have to worry about the weather tuning the city into a pile of wet napkins.
The day continued and at dinner my son promised not to draw on any napkin that was being worn. The poor boy was being tortured. He may never be able to draw on a napkin again. Where would the world of entertainment be today without the cocktail napkin. The greatest cartoonist had drawn his most famous character on one. The napkin was in a display in his theme park. Would any of that had happened if he was sued for sexual harassment by some crazed lawyer for drawing on his cocktail waitress?
On Monday I showed up for work planning to promise them I would be appropriately attired in a napkin suit after my first check. I was thrilled nobody asked or suggested it. But the whole day office activities were interrupted by guys who were removing the venetian blinds. They promised to be back the next day to hang the donated drapes.
I showed up to find a napkin clothing catalog on my desk and was looking through it when the guys returned to hang the drapes. Yup you guessed it they were made of recycled napkins. Where was the world I knew and loved?
I have been here now for six months and yes I am wearing the napkin suit while staring past my napkin drapes looking out into a world gone crazy for the napkin. Napkin manufacturing had returned to normal but instead of making napkins they were now making clothing. My wife had several napkin dresses and a pants suit, my son was now wearing napkins to school so he could avoid the torture of being the only kid there without them. I still wore my good old fashioned cotton pants at home.
We were just about to begin a new fiscal year and I had the task of writing the report on the financial security of the “Save the Napkin” foundation.
The nurse at my doctor’s office was wearing a napkin uniform to compliment his napkin suit and their napkin drapes. When I was there yesterday to have my blood pressure checked. Yes I was living in the past with cotton and rayon any fabric that would be there after it came out of the now unused washing machines in households across the country. My doctors advice? Well he suggested that I get with the times and relax a little. He gave me medication for my blood pressure and sent me back to my napkin job.
Some guy was getting rich off of a process he developed to dry clean recycled napkin clothing. The predicted toilet tissue turnaround never happened but the facial tissue people got a huge boost from the new paper crazed society. Little stands were everywhere with stores in malls that sold Facial tissue flowers and facial tissue accessories for women to decorate their napkin dresses. Little pink and blue flowers popped up in place of modesty panels. There was a place that would use green facial tissue to wind a vine of multicolored blossoms about his customers.
When would life return to wool blends and nylon wind breakers? Could I ever feel like I was not recycled like my napkin clothing again? I know that when I click print my little computer will send electronic signals to the office printer that will in turn spit out a fiscal report on recycled napkin paper. I want my mohair jacket back!
My boss came in wearing her napkin blouse and skirt. She had visited the vine guy and had pink roses dangling from vines about her chest and dancing around the knees. “Where is my report?”
I clicked print and went home hoping I would wake to the real world tomorrow.