I have a fork. At least, I had a fork. It has since gone missing, perhaps hidden in the haphazard mess of the utensil tray which without fail manages to mix up forks and spoons and butter knives despite the convenient cutouts for each type of flatware.
To step back a bit, I have many forks. Actually, I own an entire matched set of utensils, which is no small accomplishment of adulthood after college and post-college years of hand-me-downs and clearance aisle grabs followed by any number of times leaving a spoon or fork at work or the like.
But one particular fork is — was? — my favorite. It was the perfect length, was a classic shape without overly flowery or scroll-like design and most importantly was the perfect weight. I like a heft to my objects. Pens, in particular, need to feel like I’m actually holding an instrument. The same goes with flatware. Let the user feel like they have something momentous in hand and not just a thin, tinny dollar store knockoff that would make Martha Stewart cringe.
I am not alone in having a fondness for a particular item over all other equally suitable pieces. My brother growing up always grabbed a particular mug for his coffee and didn’t hesitate to grumble if I grabbed it first for my hot chocolate. My father, I remember, always insisted on a specific knife to carve up his barbecued masterpieces as though the other available blades wouldn’t do the meat justice There are wine glasses that just feel better in the hand and don’t even get me started on feeling propriety about a certain pillow that is the perfect combination of squishy and firm.
Maybe these predilections explains why my dogs will rifle their noses through the toy box to find the preferred stuffed raccoon or rubber squeaky ball at the bottom rather than the more accessible bones and rope braids on top. This could also be the reason why despite a packed and varied closet, I — as I imagine many people — still grab for the favorite sweater or pair of shoes. We are creatures of habit and often those habits involve domestic creature comforts.
Sadly, I do not have a full set of kitchenware matching this wonder-fork. I came into possession of it many moons ago during a college summer job at a now-defunct big box retailer that sold everything from electronics to jewelry to home appliances and kitchenware. In hindsight, it’s amazing how well an otherwise clueless salesperson like myself could sell a high-end blender wearing a short dress and speaking with great authority about speed and function. During one lunch break, I realized I had forgotten to include a fork with my plastic ware of leftover whatever. A quick trip to the kitchen department where forks were Velcro-fastened to display boards solved the dilemma. Unfortunately, after taking the fork home to wash I never remembered to bring it back to its rightful spot. Oops.
I’d actually forgotten about the fork as of late, opting usually to just grab whatever one is handy. But a recent office kitchen chat about dish preferences made me wonder where it had gotten off to. I searched the drawer. No dice. I looked in the sink. Nope. A peek into my few reusable lunch bags just in case. Zilch.
Could it be that after years of holding the utensil place of honor the fork had gone missing? Perhaps others in the household, in a fit of cleanliness and decorating frenzy, tossed out what didn’t match. Maybe the fork took a cue from “Kung Fu” and decided to walk the earth looking for its rightful previous home. Some could say it was karma for my earlier inadvertent shoplifting.
Or, it is simply just a sign to toss the entire drawer of less-than-thrilling flatware and commit to a set where every piece meets the qualifications of the now-departed favorite. Every bite deserves a prized tool. It’s about tine.
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached at: email@example.com or (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. Follow Michelle on Twitter @michellemdurand What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org.