Quite a few years ago my wife stopped including spoons when she set the dinner table. She reasoned that nobody used them and that they were just something more to have to clean up. The spoons come out mostly for holidays when the good silver is being used or when guests are coming for dinner and there will be desert. Otherwise, no spoons.
I can’t claim that I grew up in a house where the dinner table was formally arranged or even set regularly. Most nights my mother and I had dinner on TV trays while watching Douglas Edwards and then Walter Cronkite deliver the CBS evening news.
Later on, though, I worked in “white tablecloth” restaurants where a table was not properly set if it did not include spoons. When I set the table at home now, even if I don’t expect that we’ll need them, I still make sure each place has a spoon. I don’t mind cleaning them.
Over the last couple of years I’ve started noticing that some restaurants have picked up on this no-spoons thing. I suppose they’re just trying to save money. Here in the South—which, for those of you who don’t live here, is generally defined as the region below a certain latitude where in restaurants grits are on the breakfast menu and iced tea is automatically refilled at no charge—one of the influence of chain food operations has been that it’s rare to find a restaurant any more that even has iced tea spoons, much less uses them. At the family restaurant where we go each Tuesday night for cheap burgers they don’t distribute spoons automatically. More often than not I have to use the handle of a fork or a knife to stir my tea.
In the big scheme of things, this spoon mania isn’t very important. I did try to find some explanation, though, on the Internet for what’s going on with the spoons. Apparently there’s a spoon reference in “The Matrix” movies, something about there being no spoon. But I gather it has nothing to do with dining.
At one web site that offers advice about etiquette, I found an illustration of a properly set dinner table where the spoon was labeled, “if necessary.” That was enough for me to discontinue my search.
I don’t know what happens after you die. I don’t plan to be buried in the ground, in any event. But no matter how I die, I hope I’ll have a spoon with me because you just can’t count on finding them here or in the hereafter.