THE ROBERT BENCHLEY CONTEST ENTRY
“NO SILVER, PLEASE”
An issue I take with restaurants is they all use silver utensils. When dining out this is an obvious expectation for most people, but for me it’s dreadful. I have a phobia with silver utensils, especially forks. The feeling of the silver in my mouth, near my tongue or teeth, makes me shrill.
The solution to using silver forks at a restaurant is to ask the waiter for a to-go plastic fork. They usually have one and if I’m dining alone I can relax. However, any guests I might have along often feel as though they’re dining with someone from rural Nebraska. I reassure them of the quiddity between a silver fork and a plastic fork; they’re both eating utensils. (They are also reassured that I’m not from rural Nebraska because no one from rural Nebraska, or any part of Nebraska for that matter, uses the word quiddity.)
One of the problems with dining and requesting a plastic fork is that it makes it difficult for me to become a regular customer. After a while the staff recognizes me and I become known as “the plastic fork guy.” Being “the plastic fork guy” forces me to leave larger tips. Because if I don’t I become known as the “cheap ass plastic fork jerk who leaves seven percent.”
One way to get around this is to bring in my own plastic fork. But this is absurd. I’ve seen people – who are Caucasian, of course – that bring their own specially hand-crafted chop sticks, which are encased in special chop-stick pouches, to Asian restaurants. If I resort to bringing my own plastic fork I might as well move to Berkeley, pass out anti-turtle poaching literature, and join the Vegans who bring their own tofu and ask the staff for a portable grill to cook it on at their table, insisting they’re certified food managers.
Asking for a plastic fork at a restaurant embarrassed my girlfriend enough that we broke up. (Other break-ups included my choice to name our hamster Rochester and my inability to correctly slice broccoli.)
My ability to endure with a plastic fork sometimes amazes even me. While eating a steak, all the prongs on my plastic fork had broken. There were only little nubs remaining. The waitress saw this and asked me if I needed a regular fork. I looked at her as only a Rhodes Scholar can look at a gas attendant from Alabama, and continued eating…slowly, and awkwardly, but I continued.
I could only imagine that Democritus would laugh in my face wondering how man could combine molecules together, in search for the answers of life, and come up with an eating utensil. “How silly,” he’d say. “Just use your hands.”
As much as I’d like to walk into a restaurant and nonchalantly use my hands with every course I wouldn’t want to be accused of savagery. I have enough problems getting past my stigma of being “the plastic fork guy.”