Volume XI, Issue 29 ~ July 17-23, 2003

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Bay Reflections

You Wouldn’t Want to Eat a Tomato with It
You may know it as a spork, but to me it’s a runcible spoon
by Dick Wilson

Here’s a nifty pair of words for you. It sounds like some kind of English nobleman: Sir Runcible Spoons.

However, I would never characterize a runcible spoon as noble. For those fortunate readers who haven’t had the experience to know what I’m talking about, runcible spoons are the combination spoon/fork things that some fast food places hand out as eating utensils. The spoon part of it, you see, has points on the end that give the device the appearance of a large, fat fork.

To approach it from a different angle, the fork part has a bowl at its base that you might, and I’m making a stretch here, call a spoon. The spoon part doesn’t have the capacity to hold very much liquid, and I challenge anyone to try and spear anything more substantial than a soft tomato with the fork part.

The combination may appear harmless or even beneficial, but I’m a veteran, and I know trouble when I see it. Consider the following scenario:

A young mother carrying a two-year-old child enters a fast-food establishment, steps up to the counter and orders a salad for herself and a bowl of chicken noodle soup to share with the child. She’s in a rush; carrying her tray, she snatches up a napkin and what she thinks is an eating utensil, then hurries to a table. She secures the child in a baby seat that the thoughtful corporation has provided.

After a glance at the utensil, which she thinks vaguely resembles a fork, she tries to spear a tomato slice from the plastic bowl. Get this: The point breaks off the runcible spoon. It pierced the tomato all right, but it snapped off when it hit the plastic bowl.

Still in control, she ladles up some soup with the damaged utensil; she bids the little tyke open his mouth. The jagged edge of the broken-off fork pokes the kid’s tongue. A loud squawk ensues.

We’ve seen this happen over and over.

The word runcible is thought to have been coined by Edward Lear sometime back in the 1800s, but I can’t imagine why he went to the trouble.

We space-agers are ever grateful for the past — the fine artworks, mostly. But we prefer the modern era and the things it has brought us, like microwaves and fast computers. Runcible spoons, though, are a curse we endure for no reason I can fathom. Why, oh why, we may ask ourselves, was this awful thing invented during our time? You can answer for yourself, but I can’t help thinking that just a few more short years and I will be gone from this good earth. All they had to do was wait a while. But then I wouldn’t want such a horror visited upon my descendants either.

I am convinced that a careful researcher will find evidence that many, many people have suffered from runcible spoon trauma: RCT. Sure, you say with a sneer, not believing a word of this, but just take one look at my face. You see pain.


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Last updated July 17, 2003 @ 2:03am