“May I have a spoon, please?” I asked the waiter. He hesitated just a fraction of a second – enough to make me add in haste, my voice apologetic, “This sauce is just so yummy; I’d like to enjoy all of it.”
“Sure. No problem,” he said, attempting a smile that devolved into a smirk. He hurried off. He did not, however, return with a spoon. Eventually he came back, and took away my plate with its lovely sauce still pooled in the center. I rationalized that I really didn’t need the extra calories anyway, and figured he was thinking the same thing. Which he was not – he just failed to bring me a spoon because, really, who uses spoons these days anyway?
Am I the only one on the planet who has noticed over the past 15 years or so that spoons in nice restaurants have gone the way of the floppy disk? Oh, they’re still in the basic lineup with the knife and fork in your lower-rent, ma-and-pa greasy spoons (pun just now noticed but not intended), but my observation is that the chance of having a spoon present in your initial place setting is in direct proportion to the prices on the menu. And the phenomenon is counterintuitive: the nicer the place, the lower the chance you’ll be gifted a spoon.
Like all decisions, the one to quit routinely including spoons in a basic place setting is a financial one – fewer items to wash and less bulk inventory to maintain means a fatter bottom dollar. But I don’t care about their fat bottom – ironically, I want my spoon even if it makes my own bottom fatter!
Out of desperation, I’ll order the soup over the salad just to ensure that I get a spoon. But beware if you go this route: the waiter will swipe your spoon the moment you finish your soup if you don’t guard it. Usually there is some assemblage of condiments or spices mid table behind which your spoon can lie camouflaged. If the table is bare, you have two choices: grip the spoon tightly in a fist, thus challenging the waiter to wrench it from your hand, or hide it under your napkin in your lap. I don’t recommend the latter, as it will inevitably fall on the floor, and then where will you be?
And so I add the loss of the spoon as a given I can count on to a growing number of endangered niceties in my life: thank you notes, the phrase “you’re welcome,” paper newspapers, yearly cost-of-living salary increases, etc. Sigh!
Finally, a note to my children: when you’re packing my casket with all my favorite books, go ahead and throw in a spoon. There may be sauce in the afterlife.