Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: Visiting Royal being feted is told "Keep your fork; there'll be pie."
How long the legend has been in circulation is a mystery. According to The Vancouver Sun, the late Peter Gzowski worked at tracing its origins during one of his broadcasts, saying it happened (if it happened at all) in a northern British Columbia diner sometime between 1911 and 1916 and involved the governor-general at the time, the Duke of Connaught, not Prince Philip (the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of
Yet Prince Philip is by far the Royal most often said to have been told to retain his fork by the helpful waitress. In this the legend has evolved to use contrast to more strongly make its point, because the Duke of Edinburgh is known for his high-handed treatment of those who attend him and thus would be especially unlikely to accept such familiarity with good grace. The adjectives most commonly used in describing his behavior towards others are haughty, uncompromising, abrasive, and brusque. (He is, however, mercurial and can be unexpectedly good-humored at odd moments, so it would not be correct to utterly rule out a tolerant response to such a breach of etiquette.) A familiar joke plays on public knowledge of his temperament:
[The Daily Telegraph, 2001]By contrast, the serving person who advises against prematurely surrendering the cutlery is (in the versions we've seen, anyway) always a woman. Moreover, she is often described as an Inuit or an older person, either of which qualifiers position her in the story as someone out of touch with the protocols of waiting upon visiting dignitaries, let alone royalty. Her advice is motherly, and those who hear the legend assume it would be received as such; even that quite possibly its object would welcome the breath of fresh air:
"There's a marvellous story," said a former courtier, "that, after
[Collected on the Internet, 1996]The nature of the proffered dessert also tells the story of the Royal having been dropped into a Canadian backwater marked by the simplicity of its warm-hearted inhabitants. Pie is a down-home confection which cannot be mistaken for anything other than an unpretentious closing act to a meal. Whereas any number of sweets commonly made at home and served in casual family settings also have more upscale expressions, pie stands alone in this
Everyone who hears it smiles that someone could be so unaffected that she doesn't realize that of course a prince would normally get a separate fork for almost every bite of food. And to think of the concern that the prince's handlers would have over the breach of protocol. But there is always agreement, "I bet the prince liked it that way," says one of the listeners to the story.
Though it shares a fork retention meme with the "Keep your fork, Duke; there'll be pie" legend, the following tale should not be confused with it:
[Collected on the Internet, 2001]The version quoted above (which has been circulated widely in
Keep Your Fork
There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things "in order," she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.
Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. "There's one more thing," she said excitedly.
"What's that?" came the pastor's reply.
"This is very important," the young woman continued. "I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand."
The pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.
"That surprises you, doesn't it?" the young woman asked.
"Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," said the pastor.
The young woman explained. "My grandmother once told me this story, and from there on out, I have always done so. I have also, always tried to pass along its
'In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, 'Keep your fork' It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming ... like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance!' So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder "What's with the fork?". Then I want you to tell them: "Keep your fork ... the best is yet to come." The pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman
He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She KNEW that something better was coming.
At the funeral people were walking by the young woman's casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the pastor heard the question
"What's with the fork?" And over and over he smiled. During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her.
The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.
He was right.
So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.
Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us.
Show your friends how much you care. Remember to always be there for them, even when you need them more. For you never know when it may be their time to "Keep your fork."
Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share ... being friends with someone is not an opportunity but a sweet responsibility.
Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND even if it means sending back to the person who sent it to you.
And keep your fork.
Barbara "fork lifted" Mikkelson
Last updated: 20 May 2005
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