Thursday, July 26, 2007

I think I'm perfectly reasonable

Confession: I'm a little particular about table settings. I love setting the table, and I especially love lining everything up into their rightful places. Every piece, every utensil must be in its proper spot.

Chris is still coming to terms with this quirk of mine, even after two years of being married to me. You see, Chris is more concerned with efficiency. He doesn't see why his fork can't be on the right side of his plate. He uses his fork with his right hand, and so why should he have to pick it up from the left side of his plate?*

But on this matter I'm unbending. Seriously, I can't handle it to see the fork on the right side, or the knife pointing outward from the plate, or the glasses placed willy-nilly on the table. I start twitching and can't focus on anything else until I've lined up the glasses with the knives, the cultery with the bottoms of the plates, until I've flipped in all the knives.

(I confess that I've been known to follow behind someone who is setting a table, rearranging everything into their rightful places.)

I blame Girl Guides for this quirk. When I was in Pathfinders (that's Girl Guides for girls in their early teens), we would have this winter retreat at a B&B called "Bluenose Vacation Farm." While we were there, we'd learn how to bake bread and play games in the snow. We'd also have a big banquet at the end, where we'd dress up and they'd teach us how to set the table properly.** The owners stressed to us that, even when it was just the two of them sitting down to a casual meal, they always had a well-set table.

And somehow I've never shaken that. I'm not excessive -- I don't set out dishes or cutlery that we aren't going to use -- but I love the symmetry of it all. Forks on the left, with the option of adding different forks for other courses on beside them. Knives and then spoons on the right. Making a line from the knife to the water glass (I know that other people offset the cups slightly, especially if they're adding more glasses, but it's a touch I picked up at Bluenose). Knowing what a pie fork is.*** As I told Chris last night (as we were disagreeing on where to put the forks on the table), it makes my fastidious little heart sing.****

And I know that Karl's going to say that it's yet another way in which I'm "textbook OCD," but sometimes it's nice to have control over a small amount of space. Like packing a suitcase. Or organising my iTunes files. Even if my apartment's a mess, at least something's right.

*I can already hear Ky's voice: "Let the man put his cutlery where he wants to put it! This is as bad as when you pushed my plate aside with your thumbs!" They always take his side.
**Yes, I'm fully aware of how ridiculous that sounds.
***I guess I also picked up a lot of that from my Little Grandma. I still have trouble using pie forks for non-pie-related purposes.
****After I used that line, he said, "This is going to become a blog post, isn't it?" But I think that line also convinced him. Because he loves it when crazy things make me happy.


Teacher Lady said...

You're not reasonable. It is alright to want to a properly set table but it is not okay to be condescending to others about it (as being one who has had you "correct" my table setting). Maybe if you taught table setting instead of corrected and scolded Chris might be more open to setting things to your liking.
I do understand though. It drives me crazy when people put toilet paper rolls upside down. C'mon people! It doesn't roll properly if it is upside down.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

But he does know exactly how I like the table set! He just views it as inefficient!

Queen of West Procrastination said...

And isn't it more condescending to pull a person aside and teach them how to set a table correctly? You sure wouldn't appreciate that.

StyleyGeek said...

I don't think "correcting" a table setting is any worse that straightening pictures that are hanging slightly crooked, and people do that to me all the time! OCD people need these little things to keep them happy :)

Teacher Lady said...

I think my point was missed. It is all in the way that you correct some.

Anonymous said...

Maryanne, you will be surprised to know that my actual response to Chris's tablesetting is quite opposite to the expected one. I'm not always on Chris's side. The silverware thing is like the cheeseburger and banana peeling thing. Who eats burgers upside down? Who peels banana's not from the handle? It's incomprihensible.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Who eats a cheeseburger upside down? Chris does. And it's incomprehensible.

Who peels a banana not from the handle? I do (half the time), and it's so that I can make a cartoon banana peel.

(And I'm glad that you're sisters in sticklerhood with me.)

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Update: apparently Chris and I use the same method for peeling bananas. And we both find ourselves to be correct on this matter.

Anonymous said...

This is the FIL. You would get along wonderfully, in the table sttting, with Chris' great-uncle Al (Toronto). Uncle Al served many years with CPR Hotels and was the supervisor of a staff of over 1200 at the Royal York Hotel in TO. It was his job to ensure that things like table setting were done to a high standard (fit for royalty). In fact he was chosen to personally wait on Princess Anne on a cross-country tour of Canada many years ago. He has autographed pictures of himself with Prince Harry as well as other dignataries that he has waited on. When I visited him a while ago, he set out a meal with his good chins and silver. There were more knives, forks and spoons than I could even think of a use for. There was even one sideways accross the top of the plate.
I do feel that for you and Ky I must address the eating of a burger upside-down. Many men do this and there is a physical reason they do. In order to pick a burger up from a plate so that the top is up and remains up all the way to the mouth, the thumbs need to be underneath the burgur. IN order to do this the elbows need to be kept very close to the body. For many men the shoulder are set quite wide in comparison to the burger (much more so than for a woman). It is diffucult and bordeline uncomfortable so most men put their thumbs on top (allows there elbows to flare) and the result is an upside-down burger. This is similar to the fact that women with wider set hips can sit much more easily with their knees together or legs crossed above the knees than men can. So the burger thing is physiological not wierd.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I love getting a physiological explanation. It's all coming together now!

Queen of West Procrastination said...

I'll tell Chris that it's physiological and not weird! But I'll still tease him about it.

And I like the sounds of Great-Uncle Al.

Kate said...

"Pie fork"? Pie Fork, Maryanne??? Dude, you never heard the expression "Keep your forks, there's pie!" That's how we do it here on the prairie. :)

Queen of West Procrastination said...

The funny thing is that I did some looking around and what my Grandma used to insist was a "pie fork" is actually a salad fork! Pie/dessert forks only have three tines, and my grandma always used the shorter, wider forks with the notch in the middle for desserts. (But they're salad forks, but can also be used for desserts.)

I'll have to adjust my usage appropriately. Not that I own any such forks.

LynnieC said...

I like that Uncle Al sets the table with his good chins. I'd hate to see him be sloppy on that point.