I lived in a county in northern Michigan where napkins were illegal. They weren’t allowed. Paper, cloth, decorated, or dirty, you could not use them or own them. I lived there for four years. It’s where I learned how to bend metal into shapes that satisfied me.

Each and every meal was an ordeal. You either used your shirt or the tablecloth or you ate with the precision of one of those scientists who “paints” pictures on atoms. Ice Cream Socials were nightmares. And there were plenty of them. Every two weeks the county commission was throwing another Ice Cream Social in honor of some indian chief their daddies had murdered and you were pressured to make an appearance. There I was in August wearing two turtle-necks so I’d have plenty of sleeve to wipe on and they’d hand me a cone stacked high with that real cheap, soft ice cream with the chocolate stripe built-in sold in gallon drums at the Meijer Thrifty-Acre.

“Chris, here’s another distinguished author we’d like you to meet.”

It was a nightmare.

Last I heard the state sold the county to a waste-removal firm and they turned the whole thing into a giant landfill for trash shipped in from Canada.


About Chris Weagel

Chris Weagel writes about the intersection of technology and parenting for Wired Magazine. No he doesn’t. He can’t stand that shit.

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