Pam and I worked together for many years, and this is a story she loved to tell, and I never tired of hearing. Pam, if you’re reading this, I hope I didn’t leave anything out!
This all happened when Pam and her husband, Mike, were young marrieds in the early 70’s, and still not entirely comfortable in all social situations.
Pam’s father-in-law was the principal at a local high school, and there were several important educators who were going to be visiting his school and he and his wife would be taking them out to dinner. So, he asked his newly married school-teacher son and his wife, Mike and Pam, if they would like to join them for dinner at one of the nicest restaurants in town.
Mike and Pam were excited, but also a little nervous, because they were just starting out their adult, married life and rarely ate in really nice restaurants.
This was the 70’s when, believe it or not, our dressy clothes were usually made of polyester. So, Pam probably wore a polyester mini-dress and the high, clunky heels of the time. And Mike probably wore a polyester leisure suit along with a recent purchase he was very proud of … a very stylish wide, white tie.
So, both excited and nervous, they met Mike’s parents and the visitors at the very elegant restaurant.
When everyone sat down, Mike and Pam ended up sitting across from each other. That was a little nerve-racking, because it meant they were each kind of “on their own”, having to make polite conversation with the visitors on either side of them.
At one point, Pam gazed adoringly across the table at her handsome, very well-dressed husband, and was especially proud of how Mike was handling himself. But, as it happened, just as she was watching him, he very politely picked up his white linen napkin and wiped his mouth with it … except, instead of wiping his mouth with the corner of his white napkin, he was wiping his mouth with the corner of his white tie! And, he was looking at the person seated next to him, so she couldn’t even get his attention to try to signal to him what he was doing!
Luckily, because all Pam could do was watch helplessly, Mike soon dropped his “napkin” back in his lap and the next time she saw him use his napkin, it was the real one. And, to her relief, he didn’t make that mistake again.
It’s probably best that Pam wasn’t able to get Mike’s attention, because it would have just made him all the more nervous to realize what he had done. But, as soon as they left, Pam told Mike what she had seen him do, and they looked at his tie. It did have some very obvious lip smudges at the bottom edge. And, since the mishap was already over, and, other than that they had had a great evening, they laughed and laughed at Mike’s gaff and their speculation on whether others at the table had noticed.
Over the years, I would encourage Pam to tell this story when we were with others who hadn’t heard it, because I love the verbal picture the story draws of Mike wiping his mouth on the end of the new white tie he was so proud of.
And, I bet the person at the dry cleaners who had to work at getting the lip prints off the tie would have loved to hear the story of how that happened!