DEAR MISS MANNERS: My family has been arguing about this for quite a while now: Does the spork go on the left or the right of the plate, or neither? My brother and I agree that it goes on the top of the dish.
GENTLE READER: The spork (also known to Edward Lear fans as the runcible spoon) exists for situations in which more specialized utensils are inconvenient -- as, for example, when the serving establishment wishes to conserve plastic, or when the diner is balancing a plate of soupy pork and beans on her knees while keeping alert for passing bears.
It is therefore not often seen in a table setting. This does not deter Miss Manners, who decrees that the placement depends upon the company -- not the guests, in this case, but the other utensils being used.
If it is meant for dessert, it should be placed above the plate. But if it is the only utensil provided for the meal, it should go to the left, in place of the fork.
Her reasoning is twofold: First, a lone fork is more common than a lone spoon; and second, for those of us over the age of 3, the function of the fork is more important than that of the spoon. Miss Manners recognizes that this makes no allowance for all-liquid dinners, but she has to go, as she sees the bear coming.