FORKS: A Mnemonic Device for Setting the Table (as explained by my nine-year-old)

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This evening my daughter was watching her father as he hastily set the table. With a studied tone, she offered a bit of advice.

“Dad, if you want to set the table the right way, you just gotta remember ‘FORKS.'”

Todd had remembered forks. Forks were, in fact, the very utensils he had carelessly tossed onto the table as I plated dinner. Sensing our confusion, she expounded.

“I’m talking about ‘F-O-R-K-S,’ like where all the letters help you remember something. We learned it in etiquette class today. Let me explain it.”

Our daughter is taking a 3-day class this week called Mind Your Manners. Last week we were having to remind her that, even if your mother was taking too long to get you a spoon, it was still in bad taste to dip your napkin into your soup and suck broth from it’s fibers. Even if you’re really hungry. We’d have to remind her not to use a straw with chili, and now, two days into this manners class, she is suddenly the second coming of Emily Post.

“Okay, it goes like this,” she began. “F is for forks, because your forks go on the left of the place setting.”

So the F in FORKS helps you to remember forks. That will work like a charm.

“The O,” she continued, “is for the plate. It goes in the middle.”

“But plate starts with a P,” we protest.

“Yes, but a plate is round like the letter O.” She traced a circle onto the table to clarify. “Just listen. So F is for forks, O is for plate… Oh, and there is also a bread plate. It goes in front of the forks.”

“How do you remember where the bread plate goes?” we ask. “There is no B in FORKS.”

“You just have to remember that one,” she sighed impatiently. “Now, the next letter in FORKS is R, but it doesn’t stand for anything, so forget about it. K is for knife, because it goes to the right of the plate, and then the spoon goes to the right of the knife, and S is for spoon. F-O-R-K-S: FORKS.”


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