Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What the Fork...?

Once upon a time, a loooooong time ago, there lived a much younger version of myself. Despite being rather broke at the time, being of a tender, foolish age, this younger self thought it would be ideal to own matching cutlery. You see, Young Self had visions of entertaining guests, who would dine - perhaps not well, given her rudimentary culinary skills at the time - but at the very least in style, with cutlery that matched, not at all like one might encounter at, say, crumby Chinese food buffets or kitschy home-style joints.

Although in possession of lofty dining ideals (and therefore turning up her youthful nose at acquiring used cutlery - matching or otherwise! - at a secondhand store) (ick!), being short on cash, Young Self elected to purchase her new cutlery at that reputable purveyor of only the highest class of goods, Wal-Mart.

Four sets seemed sufficient to accommodate most of Young Self's anticipated entertaining needs.

Never mind that the spoons could not be trusted to scoop ice cream directly out of the container without bending, nor would the knives reliably hold their shape when heated with a propane torch, or that Old(er) Self seems to recall having a couple of friends over for waffles approximately once, ever, because oh! did those cheap utensils ever match! Yes sir, they sure sat there in their drawer and really matched the hell out of one another.

Yup. Cute and sensible - that was me. Before you was born, dude, when life was great.

I still never have people over. But if you ever do happen by, you'll notice that my cutlery no longer matches at all. In fact, if you hadn't read this story, you might reasonably assume I had popped by the Sally Ann one day and picked up an armload of assorted utensils willy-nilly (like I really should have done in the first place). However, since you have read this story, you might instead find yourself wondering, 'If she bought four matching sets, then how the heck did she end up with all these different kinds of forks?' 

Just how many different kinds of forks are we talking about? Well, since I'm a highly scientifish person, I thought I'd quantify the phenomenon for you so you could see for yourself... without ever seeing for yourself:

Figure 1: Tally of common eating utensils and overall numbers of silverware patterns found in my kitchen (all sources*).
* Including drawers, lunch bags, kitchen sink and dishwasher.

Figure 2: Distribution of different silverware patterns across common eating utensils found in my kitchen (all sources*).
* Vents, sofas, drains and other non-standard locations not included in survey.

Four types of utensil; nineteen different patterns.

So now that you've seen the data, the question remains: how?

Using my superior powers of deduction, I can tell you I'm pretty sure it's not Small Fry, since he never has occasion to enter or leave the house carrying cutlery. (Which doesn't go to say that he doesn't attempt to do so, just that I regularly frisk him for contraband.) And DH and I each have dedicated lunchbox utensils which are made of bamboo and thus easily differentiated from the metal items tallied in this study.

Which leaves Medium Fry, with a lunch bag, in the elementary school gymnasium-cum-lunchroom. Or, as I and other local parents have come to know it, the Ranchlands Pathogen and Fork Exchange.

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