Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Curse of the Dirty Fork

Okay, this has been on my mind for awhile, and it justs seems like a good topic for a blog. You know, sort of trivial but still fun to crab about. Pardon me if I seem to be rambling, but . . .

. . . have you ever noticed how, when you go into a restaurant nowadays, they only give you one fork? And then after you’ve finished your salad or appetizer or whatever it is that you’re eating before the main course, they come to get your dirty plate (on top of which sits your dirty fork – yes, dirty fork – and you’ve placed the dirty fork there for exactly that reason: it’s dirty, just like your plate), and the waiter or waitress says “would you like to keep your fork?” This DRIVES ME CRAZY! I mean, is there any conceivable reason you would want to put the fork (still wet or at least a little sticky from your mouth or your food or whatever) onto the table in front of you, which is probably teeming with bacteria and other gross things? Is this a reasonable question for a waiter to ask? Is there some reason they don't want to give you another fork? One that is clean? Is that asking too much? I can't imagine there is that much more labor involved in giving patrons two forks instead of one. Can you? After all, isn't that the typical place setting? Two forks, a knife, and a spoon? It takes every bit of restraint I can muster not to say “If I wanted to keep my fork, I would have kept my fork!” or worse things that I probably shouldn't put in a blog . . .

And what gets me even more -- and here's where we all have the power to reverse this God-awful trend -- is that everyone sheepishly says "oh, okay" and then retrieves the dirty fork from the plate before it is whisked away. Some people, I've noticed, have even begun removing the dirty fork from the dirty plate before the waiter has a chance to ask the question! As if, somehow, it's our job. It's our duty. If that's the case, maybe we should all start offering to use the same plate over and over. "Here, take my salad plate and just use it again for my steak." Perhaps I shouldn't even suggest this, lest I give someone an idea . . .

In my opinion, we've all been brainwashed, and somehow, made to feel guilty for [gasp!] wanting a clean fork for our next course. It didn't used to be like this. This is a fairly recent trend.

Well, I simply do not put up with it anymore. When the waiter asks the question: "Would you like to keep your fork?" -- I look him in the eye and politely state with a smile: "No, I'd like a clean one, please." He gets it. And I get my clean fork.

St. Petersburg Book Festival

The St. Petersburg Book Festival turned out to be a great event. I had the opportunity to meet some of the other authors from Port Town Publishing and get some pointers on this whole "marketing" aspect of the business. Even better, I spent a lot of time chatting with festival-goers, who were a friendly bunch. The picture on the left is courtesy of reader Phil Lieberman, one of my first fans, I hope!

I know Florida is full of northern transplants, but I was still amazed at how many people I met who hailed from St. Louis (my hometown and the setting for Best Intentions). The Gateway Arch on the cover of my novel sure turned out to be a conversation starter!

Anyway, thanks to everyone who took a chance on a new writer and purchased the book. I'd love to hear from you after you read it -- let me know what you think.

Check back for some more pictures from the festival -- I hope to get them posted soon.