Ketchup Spill Threatens Portland

I find it ironic that in Portland, Oregon – a city that is often considered the “greenest in America,” so much so that there is a city-wide ban on plastic bags in grocery stores – you can’t buy lunch or coffee without the cashier handing you a stack of napkins so thick they rival phone books. Or would have, back when phone books still existed.

(Well, I suppose they’re still around. A couple of years ago I complained when a phone book arrived on my doorstep. I swore up and down I had no use for it, but then one of the legs on the couch broke, and I ended up shoving the book under there to prop it up. Worked like a charm, and forced me to eat my words. Turns out the phone book is still useful).

But I digress. Back to napkins.

Maybe this happens everywhere. Regardless, it always strikes me as odd. Yesterday I was running an errand on my lunch and stopped in at Subway for a sandwich. I emerged with a bag stuffed full of napkins. And it was a measly 6″ sandwich, for crying out loud! Why would I need more than a single napkin, anyway? Crap. Maybe it’s me. I must strike people as messy. Why else would I end up with so many napkins? And it happens wherever I go. McDonald’s. The corner deli. The sushi joint down the street. Hell, I ordered a latte from Starbucks last week, and ended up with enough napkins to wallpaper the living room. And that was for a cup of coffee. I certainly didn’t intend to get any on my fingers. Granted, accidents happen, but still…

Has nobody heard of the conservation movement?

Napkins everywhere!
Napkins everywhere!

As a result, I’ve got extra napkins tucked away everywhere. My filing cabinet and desk at work. The center console of my car. Stuffed down the front of my pants. (Though, ahem, those are always there). I suppose if the shit ever hits the fan and there’s a massive ketchup spill threatening the city I’ll be prepared, but the odds of that happening have gotta be on the slim side.

Please, pretty please, public proprietors of penne pasta, pretzels, pepperoni pizza, potatoes, porridge, polenta, pork, pancakes, panini, pad thai, pastrami, pineapples, peas, pastries, peanut butter, peaches, pickles, potstickers, prawns, pudding, prime rib, poultry, pumpkin pie, popcorn, and a plethora of possible preparations I’ve yet to ponder – I only need ONE napkin.

Thank you very much.

The errand I was running, by the way? I found a repair shop that specializes in vintage stereo equipment. Remember the groovy stereo cabinet/console I scored off Craigslist a couple of weeks ago for only $40, a real steal of a deal? Well, it would have been, had the turntable worked properly (and by “worked properly,” I mean, worked). Yeah, I got it to turn, but at about half the speed it should have spun. But I absolutely love the console and figured it was worth the price to have a working record player, which was kind of the whole point of buying the thing in the first place. I certainly have no need for the eight-track. So I bit the bullet and found a place that could fix it. Wrested the turntable out of the cabinet and ran it down there on my lunch. The guy was friendly and knowledgeable; he owns a tiny shop with inconvenient hours (closed after 6:00 and on weekends), but it’s a family-owned business that’s been around since 1952, and when I walked inside, it was stocked with really cool vintage stereos, radios, and TVs. So I have confidence that he knows what he’s doing and will have my turntable running good as new in no time. The only drawback? The estimate is $80 if it just needs a good cleaning and lubrication, $125 if he has to work on the motor.

Ouch. So much for getting the cabinet for a song.

But, as Tara pointed out, it’s worth the extra cost anyway. The whole thing is in excellent condition cosmetically speaking, and I have longed for one of these cabinet consoles for years. Many of the ones I came across on Craigslist were selling for $150, $200 anyway. Even when all is said and done, I still think I ended up with a good deal. Not a GREAT deal, but I’m not complaining.

I’m saving that for all these damn napkins that keep piling up…

Published by Swinged Cat

I'm a a professional writer and editor for a media/publishing firm in Rapid City, South Dakota. When not writing, I enjoy vinyl records, lava lamps, photography, hiking, and Bloody Marys...not necessarily in that order.

22 thoughts on “Ketchup Spill Threatens Portland

  1. I want two napkins. Mostly because napkins lately seem to be losing plies and size (Didn’t these things used to have a whole extra fold? What is it with these napkins that do not in fact cover the lap of an adult person of normal size?)

    So I want two. Not one. Not eighteen. Two.

    Subject to change depending on the goopiness of the food as prepared. But dude, I’ll probably ask for more if I think I’ll need them. Two is a good rule of thumb.


    1. It’s always subject to change, of course. Eating ribs? I’m hoping for multiple napkins! There’s a definite correlation between food goopiness and number of napkins required.


  2. ” I swore up and down I had no use for it, but then one of the legs on the couch broke, and I ended up shoving the book under there to prop it up.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Me too, Mark! And it’s funny because we haven’t had phone books delivered in the past year, and I truly miss them.

    Napkins: you know me. I’m a napkin freak and abuser. I use like 5 napkins whenever I eat, because I’m such a piggy eater. And you also know how I steal napkins from Starbucks all the time. Heck, I haven’t had to buy a napkin in THREE years – HA!

    “But, as Tara pointed out, it’s worth the extra cost anyway. The whole thing is in excellent condition cosmetically speaking, and I have longed for one of these cabinet consoles for years. Many of the ones I came across on Craigslist were selling for $150, $200 anyway.”

    I agree. And it’s an AWESOME console!

    Have a SUPER weekend, buddy!


    1. You would love the Starbucks I went to, Ron. You wouldn’t have to steal napkins – you’d be set for life with what the barista (or the barista’s assistant) handed you!


      1. Not really being a slob. Poor choice of a word. Let’s just say I don’t like dirty fingers or a dirty face.

        That almost doesn’t sound right either.



  3. Mark,
    I think that you are getting the napkins that the ones of us never get! I cant begin to tell you how many times i have reached in to a bag for one..just one and NADA! Have had to use the inside of my sleeve.. :/


  4. I need 2 napkins – I am messy. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before. We do get a lot of extra napkins – they go in the glove compartment & centre console of our vehicles because hubby is messy too! We often need extra napkins in the vehicles when he spills his coffee all over him. Back when Bandit was alive, he would sometimes get carsick & they got well used.


  5. Alas, a napkin surplus! What I wouldn’t do for even a single decent napkin here in Ecuador. I get one anorexic napkin at each place I eat. Maybe I’m just a messy eater, but I want to wipe my fingers more than once–maybe my mouth.

    By the way, it’s true. Sara and I have arrived safely in Ecuador, and I’m trying to get back into the routine of blogging. So far–I’m not doing to well.



    1. I’m beginning to think I would like eating out in Cuenca. There’d be no silly surplus of napkins to deal with, that’s for sure!

      Good to see your name again, Kathy!!


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