DEAR MISS MANNERS: I must have been born about a hundred years too late, because I have always delighted in the specialized flatware that was so loved in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

I secured a long-elusive prize in the form of eight ice cream forks. Beyond a basic plate of ice cream (I assume that sorbet, gelato and sundaes are included), with what dishes can I properly use them? I rarely serve just ice cream, and when I serve pie or cake with ice cream, I have always set a dessert fork and dessert spoon at each place. But that was before I had these nifty little sporky things, which I am eager to use.

I realize that my question does not offer much in the way of great general interest or mass appeal, but it is a matter of intense concern for me, and I trust no one else to provide me with the correct answer.

GENTLE READER: If you insist upon a correct answer, Miss Manners is forced to say that ice cream forks should be used only to eat ice cream. That is what specialized flatware is all about.

However, you surely know that she shares your fondness for it and wants to do better for you. Just please be good enough not to betray her to even sterner purists.

Ice cream forks are not the only table implements that combine a bowl with prongs. You could pass these off as terrapin forks.


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What's that? Your guests don't want to eat a gelatinous mass embedded with turtle parts? Miss Manners will try again.

They could be used as ramekin forks. And you don't even have to catch a ramekin. That can consist of anything baked into an individual dish, such as eggs with breadcrumbs, cheese, bits of meat, whatever you choose. A souffle, if you wish.

Or you could enjoy your ice cream, and set out in pursuit of specialized terrapin and ramekin forks. Miss Manners would understand.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a friend who is always looking for people to do things for him or go out of their way to drive him places. His excuse is that he has an old car and doesn't feel that it will make it there. I am only talking about 10 miles one way at the most.

He also asks me to have a party at my house and invite him over or take him to dinner or on a trip when I mention I am going somewhere, or asks me to buy him a drink when we are at the bar. He claims to have old movie posters that he could sell for a lot of money, but he still cries poverty.

Would you say this individual is a freeloader? He probably does these things because in his mind he thinks I have a lot of money.

GENTLE READER: He probably does these things because in his experience he knows you will comply. Miss Manners suggests that you solve your problem by not doing so.

Miss Manners is the pseudonym of Judith Martin. Miss Manners runs Mondays and Wednesdays. Contact her at dearmissmanners@gmail.com.