I've never told anyone, but when I was a kid setting the Sunday table, the silverware would talk.

Knives, forks and spoons clattered and chattered and said amazing things.But before I get ahead of myself, you need some background.

To begin with, spoons, knives and forks are like people. They prefer to stay with their own kind. They're a bit primitive, so they don't form social clubs or private schools to keep others out. They do it the old fashioned way: They live in tribes. And there's always tribal warfare going on, especially when they end up side by side on the table.

The knives were the warrior class, I remember. They were soldiers and police officers, things like that.

Forks were workers. They dealt in transportation and construction and did a lot of heavy lifting. For the most part, forks were good folks.

As for the spoons, well, they were my favorite. If I had to be a piece of silverware, I knew I'd be a spoon. They were pensive and open. They were good with words, though not very robust. Spoons were usually ministers and poets.

There were rebels and outlaws among all the silverware, of course. But there was nothing worse than a knife gone bad. A bad knife could ruin a guy's day.

And bad knives loved nothing more than picking on the spoons. "Hey, Shovel-face!" they'd say. Or "What's the scoop, Soup-lips?"

Sundays at the dinner table could get pretty unpleasant.

To make matters worse, forks seldom came to the defense of the spoons. The forks figured they did twice as much work as spoons anyway. They were kind of pleased to see spoons get the business.

So, I was usually the one who had to stick up for them.

I remember one Sunday when things got especially ugly.

"Hey, medicine breath!" one knife began. "Yeah, you, Spoony. Get me a whetstone and I'll turn turn you into a half-decent knife. Hah, hah, hah!"

All the knives laughed. For spoons, that remark was always cutting. Spoon folklore was full of stories about human prisoners filing spoons into knives, and spoons hated that. And they tried to keep such stories from their young.

So, the bewildered spoon just ignored the comment. And that made matters worse. Spoons were pacifists. They actually believed that inside every mean-minded knife was a surgeon's scalpel - a positive knife, one that could be used to heal and help people.

Looking back now, I think spoons were probably naive. I think they were afraid of the knife inside of themselves. Despite their shape they feared that down deep inside of each of them was a knife trying to get out. I would have explained all this to them, of course, but I was only a boy and didn't know much about psychology.

So the "whetstone remark" really upset the spoon. And the reaction wasn't lost on the other knives.

It was "steak" Sunday, too, so the steak knives soon picked up the taunts.

"If I had to spend my life lifting Jell-O around, I'd kill myself," one steak knife said. "In fact, anything that lifts Jell-O doesn't deserve to live. Don't you agree boys? Get him!"

But just as the steak knife made his move, he let out a yelp.

"No! Not that! Stop it! Help! Hellllp! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

"Jerry!" my mother said. "Jerry, why are you eating Jell-O with your steak knife? What in the world gets into you?"

I didn't answer, of course. How could I? She wouldn't understand that we spoons had to stick together.