Q. Is it improper to use a fork to eat grapefruit that has been halved and dissected, or is a spoon the preferable implement? Is it acceptable to use a fork when eating ice cream?
Our meals are always times for the communication of news, events and sports, in addition to personal and spiritual sharing. Your reply will add to our list of ideas.
A. Miss Manners is delighted to hear that you do more at the table than eat. She considers this an invitation to pull up a chair and add to the discussion, rather than just to point to an implement and then go up to bed.
Let us note that we are talking slurpy food here. Those who like fresh grapefruit and those who like ice cream may not have much else in common, but they share an enthusiasm for the respective drippings of their treats.
In order to eat grapefruit halves, one really has to love them. It is so much easier to grab some juice for breakfast and not have to worry about getting to the dry cleaner's before work. Grapefruit fanciers are not going to be satisfied merely eating what they can stab and then watching the juice go down the garbage disposal with the shell.
There not being any reason to eat ice cream except that it is terrific, those who succumb are even less inclined to miss a drop. Show Miss Manners someone who eats the frozen part and leaves whatever is melting, and she will show you someone who -- well, who ought to be eating grapefruit for dessert.
When there is a simple choice of flatware, spoons ought to be used for both grapefruit and ice cream. But since you like discussions, Miss Manners must go on to tell you that one needn't leave it at that. There are more interesting ways to eat each of them.
For the grapefruit, there exists a spoon that comes to a point at the tip, and sometimes has jagged sides to the bowl. This is useful for prying the meat from the skin, a procedure that one tries to perform on the fruit without also performing it on one's mouth. Older versions of these spoons are called orange spoons, because an orange was once commonly attacked in the same fashion.
The ice-cream fork would seem to contradict Miss Manners' assertion that ice cream should be eaten with a spoon, but -- fooled you! -- it actually is a spoon, with a very rounded bowl, only with forklike tines at the end for subduing brick-hard ice cream. There also exist ice-cream spades, which sound like an ice-cream fanatic's dream. But while it is true that these resemble shovels, they are so tiny that one can't shovel much in at once, which is probably just as well.