I recently discovered another tribe of which I apparently am a member. I was invited to someone's home for dinner and was asked "are you a short-fork person or a long-fork person?" As it turns out, I like to eat with a short fork, while my wife favors the long forks. I didn't realize this distinction extended to other families, and have no idea how common or rare it is.
[forks in photo are not dirty - just reflecting the amateur photographer]
Addendum: Found some interesting info on the history of the fork:
The word fork comes from the Latin 'furca' for "pitch fork." The two-prong twig was perhaps the first fork. In Egyptian antiquity, large forks made of bronze were used at religious ceremonies to lift sacrificial offerings. One of the earliest dinner forks is attributed to Constantinople in 400 A.D.; it can be seen in the Dumbarton Oaks collection in Washington, D.C. By the seventh century, small forks were used at Middle Eastern courts; one such fork, a small, gold, two-pronged tool, came to Italy in the eleventh century in the dowry of a Byzantine princess who married Domenico Selvo, a Venetian doge. After witnessing the princess use the fork, the church severely censured her, stating that the utensil was an affront to God's intentions for fingers. Thereafter the fork disappeared from the table for nearly 300 years...The fork began to gain acceptance in Italy by the late sixteenth century, a period when upper-class Italians expressed renewed interest in cleanliness. However, the French court considered the fork an awkward, even dangerous, utensil, and the nobility did not accept it until the seventeenth century when protocol deemed it uncivilized to eat meat with both hands. The way to use the fork remained a mystery, and many sophisticates, notably King Louis XIV, continued to eat with fingers or a knife...The modern table setting is attributed to Charles I of England who in 1633 declared, "It is decent to use a fork," a statement that heralded the beginning of civilized table manners. But it wasn't until almost a century later that the fork gained acceptance among the lower class... Because the average family owned a limited number of forks, historians suggest that the service of sherbet midway through a meal gave the servants time to wash the forks used earlier on...In the seventeenth century, fork tines were made of case-hardened steel and were fast to wear down. To promote utensils with longevity, early fork tines were extra long in length and made with sharp pointed tips...... three- and four-prong forks were slow to reach North America, where people continued to eat from a knife blade food that was difficult to spear with a two-prong fork, such as mashed potatoes and gravy.,,, the collector may amass specialized forks—for eating lobster, fruit, dessert, ice cream, pastry, strawberries, snails, and oysters—from antique shops and specialty stores...Forks with a wide left tine and an optional notch, such as a salad fork, fish fork, dessert fork, and pastry fork, provide extra leverage when cutting food that normally does not require a knife.
I didn't realize that the little notch in the last tine of the salad fork is apparently there for a purpose. You learn something every day.