Last night, we had some family and friends over for dinner. At one point, Lucia took her napkin and dipped it into my brother's girlfriend's wine. I was shocked. "That was mean and rude, "I said. "Why did you do it?"
Lucia replied, "I was being Veronica wiping the face of Jesus."
"Oh," I said. "I'm glad you weren't being mean-- you were just being... interesting." I asked her apologize to my brother's girlfriend anyway. I explained to the group that the legend of Veronica (whose name comes from the Latin for "true image") came up in conversation recently when Lucia befriended a girl of the same name.
Last night's interchange reminded me of another curious occurence at the table a few months ago: as we sat down to eat, Lucia placed her cloth napkin over her head. Bede laughed at my incredulous expression, and said that they had been listening to a rebroadcasted program on NPR called Francois Mitterrand's Last Meal. The "last meal" was the illegal French dish of roasted ortolan, a songbird that is now on the endangered species list. Fans of the dish place a napkin over their heads while they're eating. The reason is twofold. (1) They are able to appreciate fully the aroma of the meal, but (2) they are also hiding their heads in shame because they're eating a songbird, and one that has been prepared in a cruel manner to boot.
"Please leave your napkin on your lap," I said to Lucia.