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Friday, July 13, 2007

My Turn in the Barrel

It has been called to my attention that, although I freely tell stories on Mike, I seem to have gone unscathed in this blog, if not elsewhere. Since Mike refers to my life as an ongoing series of I Love Lucy episodes, there’s ample material. So, OK, I give. We’ll start with this one.

Back in college, my sorority had an annual luncheon, which was a real big deal. Always held at a top-notch Memphis venue. Various remarks and acknowledgements to be made. Famous alums present. And a special speaker or program. Definitely a high heels, your best dress and pearls event.

In this particular year, we were gathered in a very fancy restaurant, which I’d only visited once before in my young life. We had finished a fine meal and, as was the custom with so many in that era, many of us lit up after-lunch cigarettes. I’d casually crumpled my napkin to the left of my plate. (Etiquette forbids the actual “folding” of a used napkin.) I’d scooted my chair back just a tad and primly folded my hands in my well dressed lap – cigarette hand on top. I was just so sophisticated.

Our speaker was a beautiful woman, probably a local celeb, who was speaking to us about poise and grace. I was attentive. She – the goal to which I aspired – was standing right across the table from me. That’s when I glanced down and discovered the problem.

I had set the napkin on fire.

It was not in full flame, but definitely afire and about to burst into four-alarm status. I instantly assessed the situation. I couldn’t jump up and scream. I could not douse it with my goblet of water. So I proceeded in the only other, acceptable course of action.

I delicately reached up with my bare hand, grasped the smoldering napkin edge, and squeezed it until I’d suffocated the burning edges. I must admit that my eyes watered a bit, but I made no sound. My sorority sisters were unaware of my transgression. The crisis was averted. The beautiful speaker continued speaking, and I should have received the gold star for best pupil of the day.


Anonymous said...

I understand your sorority was subsequently banned from this venue due to unremitted napkin damage.
And that the FBI has been unable to track the identity of the perp (perpetrator) as the fingerprints were forever altered.
dennis niksch
Elena shared it at the 'grand ole office' ...

Scarlett said...

Hi Dennis,
Welcome aboard. I'm glad Elena gave you the blog addy. I didn't know who would or wouldn't want it, but feel free to share. The more the merrier.