Apropos of Nothing I:

A periodic series in which I practice irrelevancy, but hopefully not boringness (if you want that, go here), and numbering with Roman Numerals. Can you ever get enough practice at that?

Just so you know, don’t expect any sage advice, or morals to these stories (unless of course you want to provide a moral in the comments!), mostly me probably embarrassing myself.  Enjoy.

The Napkin Twirling Edition

It was my first business trip for my first job out of college.  I had a suit and everything.

The conference was held in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Have you ever been to Utah?  They have very strict rules about the selling of alcoholic beverages.  Apparently one way of getting around that is by giving away the alcohol, rather than selling it.  At least that was the case in 1989.

So, there I was in Salt Lake City, being uber professional and grown-up.  My own hotel room!  Company expense account!  Networking! Free liquor! Appropriate refreshments!

One evening I headed into the banquet room for dinner with a group of new friends.  The place must have had nearly 100 tables.  But it filled up fast.  We found an empty table tucked into a corner near the front of the room, furthest from the kitchen.  We grabbed it.  In retrospect, that was a very bad move.

I sat facing towards the corner, my back to the rest of the dining room.  A couple of bottles of wine had been thoughtfully opened for us and left in the center of the table.  We poured the wine, made toasts and started chatting, while waiting to be served.

We were having a good time, but it seemed like it was taking forever to get any food.  We’d had a hard day of standing around in our booths and getting toured around town.  We were starving.  I turned around and saw the flock of waiters hustling around the room, delivering salads.

“Oh they’ll serve us soon,” I thought to myself optimistically.

I continued enjoying the wine and conversation at our table.

We finished the wine.  It’s possible we scrounged more from nearby tables.

We waited.  And waited. And waited.

My stomach started growling loudly enough for others to hear.

The wine was gone.

I turned back around to see what was going on.  Some tables were already getting served entrees.  We hadn’t even received our salads yet.  Evidently we were sitting in the dreaded Invisible Section of the room.  Every dining room seems to have one.

I couldn’t take it anymore.  Something had to be done. Being a grown-up and a professional on a business trip, I decided the best course of action was to surrender.  To make it official, I waved a white flag, in the form of a napkin, over my head.

“Hey, this is kind of fun,” I thought to myself.  Apparently I’m pretty easy to entertain when hungry and possibly tipsy.

I started twirling the napkin above my head in circles.

Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh!

My tablemates joined in.  Our whole table surrendered with twirling napkins.

Post-twirling, napkin-inspired mayhem continues.

Post-napkin twirling mayhem continues.

I was having a pretty good time with the napkin twirling, but noticed the guy across from me was staring past me and pointing.

I turned around and saw a sea of twirling white napkins.

The entire room was twirling their napkins!


The waiters got the message.  Soon we were fed and enjoyed the rest of the evening. After dinner, I tied our white flag napkins into pirate do-rag hats.  Who knew they could be so versatile?

After that night, the napkin twirling became a thing at the group meals. And I heard that it continued on at future conferences. Now I can’t be sure of that, because I didn’t ever go back, not that I wasn’t invited mind you, but I quit working for that company.

I love business trips. And wine. Oh, and napkins are pretty swell too.

2 comments to Apropos of Nothing I:

  • I was wondering what the story was on that one. Hilarious! It makes the whole thing at dinner (since I wasn’t at your table) even funnier.
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..who inspires you =-.

  • And we shamelessly co-opted your awesome story to add yet another layer of fun to our retreat! :)
    Oh, I just realised you left out what I think was one of the funniest part of the story, i.e. that you found out years later that it had become a tradition that was still going on… or did I just sell the punch of the second episode of your fabulous series? (ooops!)
    You know you are awesome, right? :)
    .-= Josiane´s last blog ..A (huge!) shift in perspective =-.

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