Originally (originally?) there was a reason why I kept the three-tined forks in a separate compartment of the cutlery drawer from the four-tined forks but I have forgotten the reason because nobody has asked me recently. Once you did ask me, "Why do you keep the three-tined forks separate from the four-tined forks?" and I mumbled something about their having a different function, which is plainly absurd, they have no different function, they are both used for what forks are used for, they fork. Or fork up, or in. Some relative or friend forked over good money for the three-tined forks when they gave them to me and my then wife as a wedding present in Massachusetts along with knives and spoons, but I bought the four-tined forks because there were never enough three-tined forks and the knives that went with them, they were too expensive. Perhaps I thought the four-tined forks made in Japan would be better at forking functions than the three-tined forks made in Sweden, but in the end they made little difference. In the divorce settlement I got both sets of forks. I guess where she moved to there were plenty of forks. You brought another set of forks, and knives, and spoons when you moved in, but what remains of them are in the garage because I already had plenty; the rest we took to Ireland for my son, but when they went through the X-ray machine at Heathrow they somehow ended up staying there since they weren't in our luggage when we arrived. You hold your fork in your left hand and a knife in the right as the British do, and I sometimes hold my fork in the right hand as the Americans do and sometimes in the left depending on whether I feel more British or more American, or depending on whether the food is more British, say, bangers and mash, or more American, like flapjacks and maple syrup. Generally I eat oriental food with chopsticks except at home when I eat it with a fork held in my right hand because I learned to eat oriental food in America. It doesn't make much sense to me to eat rice with a fork held in the left hand and a knife in the right although it does to the British because I've seen them, or us, eating that way. Although both of us have plenty of forks we have no fish forks though we eat fish, but I don't know the reason why not. Perhaps it's that we see no difference in function between a fish fork and a regular or dinner fork, but growing up in England, I thought, or was taught, the reason we used fish forks was that they were better at forking out fish bones than regular forks and then there was the problem of smell, that is, the fish smell was thought to linger on the fish forks, but of course when we boys got through washing up it didn't, or I couldn't smell it, although my mother claimed she could and my father, who deferred to her in matters domestic since he wasn't at all domestic, claimed he could, so the fish forks with their beautiful yellowish-white bone handles and their ornately filigreed shanks were kept in a separate compartment of the cutlery drawer, wrapped in velvet. We don't care for our forks the way my mother used to, everything gets shoved into the dishwasher and unloaded into the cutlery drawer although there is that curious division of the three-tined forks and the four-tined forks which persists to this day. Of course there is a difference in function between a regular or dinner fork and a dessert fork in that the dessert fork is only used for desserts, or puddings as the British say although they aren't necessarily puddings as such but pies or tarts, which the British top with cream and eat with a spoon as well as a fork but Americans eat with only a fork even when the pie, or tart, is topped with ice cream, which they, or I, call à la mode. I don't know why the dessert fork is smaller than the regular or dinner fork, but it may have something to do with the Judaeo-Christian concept of greed in that it wouldn't be seemly to eat a dessert, or pudding, with the same size fork used to eat a roast, or joint. On the other hand the reason may have less to do with religion and more to do with bourgeois ideas of gentility. Americans used to be at least twice as genteel as the British but no longer are. By the standard of the size of their forks and other utensils airlines must be more genteel than anyone and indeed, when in her mechanical, sing-song voice the flight attendant runs through the safety procedures before the flight begins, she says, "In the event of a loss of pressure . . ." instead of, "In an emergency, oxygen masks will drop down," which is why gentility provokes rage as well as terror. Squashed into the seat, my elbows pressing into my ribs, I am provoked to rage when I try to unpack the child-size fork and dull saw-toothed plastic knife from their child-proof cellophane membrane which refuses to free them, over the north Atlantic where I am locked in a perpetually pressurized pod hurtling thousands of feet in the air between New York and London.