Ask Tom, Answer Gansie: Get Your Hands Out of My Lap


A semi-regular feature where gansie gets to pretend she knows as much about dining as the Washington Post food critic.

Does anyone really want the waiter to keep pouring their wine?: To me, that’s as intrusive as the (short-lived) fad for waiters to put the napkins on diners’ laps as soon as they sit down.

Tom Sietsema: To each his own. Some people like to have their wine poured for them throughout a meal, others don’t. If people feel strongly about the subject, they should let their server know at the start.

BTW: I’ve had my napkin placed on my lap twice this week. And it’s only Wednesday! In other words, the “trend” is hardly “short-lived.”


That’s as intrusive as the (short-lived) fad for waiters to put the napkins on diners’ laps as soon as they sit down: I always hated at my boss’ club how they refold my napkin while I return to the buffet! Don’t touch something I put on my lips!

Tom Sietsema: I’ve researched this. Unless a napkin or waiter’s hands are wet, there’s tiny chance of contracting anything. I think bunched up napkin balls look a little unslightly, too. But I hear you!

gansie: Unless my server is either Selma Hayek, Shane from L Word, or Chase Utley – don’t touch me. That is just weird. I mean, do I want the server to come to the restroom with me and help me button my jeans like a nursery schooler? Do I want the server to also cut my steak for me? Where does service end and personal caregiver begin?

And while I’m on the subject of napkins, what happened to the folding of napkins in the shape of a swan trend? DAD GANSIE used to work in catering back in the 70s and can fold a napkin more ways than Heidi Klum can wear her hair in a season of PR. Sure, it’s kinda tacky. But I think a fun, little neighborhood restaurant with a kitchy vibe could pull it off. Oh, and putting Jack and Peach Schnapps on the menu wouldn’t hurt either.

Full Transcript

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  • BS July 31, 2008  

    you know what would be funny? If you learned how to do the retro swan-folding thing and then every time you get up at a fancy restaurant, leave your napkin folded like a swan. It would totally throw the servers off.

  • Jennifer August 4, 2008  

    If the waiter keeps the wine coming, you’ll have no idea exactly when you officially became drunk. I think it’s as annoying as coffee refills when you’ve gotten it juuuuust right with cream and sugar.

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