Eve's table was the most difficult one I never really set.
You remember that the meal a la Eve is served without utensils and it would have been in the Garden of Eden as I mentioned here and here.
Setting a table, I discovered, is a hard habit to break. I found myself going into the dish stacks several times while reading my own menu and finally stopping myself: She would not have had consomme bowls or chop plates. She would never have considered a bowl. Paradise, in my estimation is a place without complications including the 153 items made in my sterling pattern. I lingered over that for a moment and honestly, got a little annoyed with old Eve. That was not the first time, truth be told: Were it not for that stupid apple I would not be writing to you from my perch among the dish stacks, among other indignities I suffer around the clock thanks to that dolt, if the story is to be believed. Paradise did not require clothes, it hardly would have stood for bread plates because, let's face it: He did not suffer nonsense gladly, did He?
Sometimes art annoys me too. All the paintings of that Garden, but who knows what the creator's vision of paradise really was? I am telling you this: It was fantastic, bigger than you and I could ever imagine. It would burn our eyes with magnificence. This fruit grove and garden we talk about are only placeholders; our post-Eden references problematically complicated by subsequent biblical translations into languages which do not literally have the words to help us to understand with complete accuracy what the devil was going on there. So, this whole thing was kind of a disappointment when it came down to it because the only things one can set a table with here, east of Eden, is just stuff.
Soldiering on anyway because I was already committed: Eve and Adam had land, plants, animals, and sky. Therefore, dirt, leaves, animal skins, and all the fruits of our mortal understanding. She might have draped the table with palm, I like to think she did because it is relevent to The Book in another important way. She collected an armful of verdant ferns, some teak twigs, and some colorful fruits. She would have had shells: Both sea and coconut in which to serve.
As the story goes, there was this apple. He had promised them death if they ate fruit from that one apple tree. But He so loved them - these foolhardy apple nibblers and squanderers of Paradise - and they were his most perfect creation, that He could not bring Himself to go through with killing them for consuming the apple. They broke His heart and were banished from Paradise for eternity, cherubim to stand guard at the gates of Paradise for all time, never to allow us passage back again. We were doomed to suffer the indignities of mortals (which He was still just determining at that point and continues to refine as I write today) because of this one senseless act.
In grade school when they taught this and in undergrad when it was (though I did not know it at the time) my great luck to study this with Dominican theologians, this story irritated me more each and every time I returned to it. One of the Friars caught that look on my face one day in my junior year of college and said, "What is bothering you?" This is so infuriating, I said. "Now you understand." He said, and smirked as he walked away.
That was, give or take, fifteen years from the first time I was told the tale. Eve, she was brand new, as was her race. She had no pain memory, no knowledge of anything but paradise, no parents to review the don't-touch-the-hot-pot lesson with her fifty-six times.
I let her off the hook when I was twenty. But if I have to set her table again, she can use a plate like the rest of us broken perfectlings.
For more mortal tables, visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch.