Every man should carry a pocket knife. You never know when you might need one. I learned this from my father. I borrowed his once and forgot to return it. As he was getting ready to walk out the door for work he reached into his pocket to check for his keys. He pulled out the keys and asked, “Son did you borrow my knife again? I need it. I’d rather leave home without my britches than without my knife.” That’s a man with his priorities right.
It was not enough to carry a pocket knife. It had to be sharp as a razor, literally. As Dad sharpened his knife he would test it on his arm hairs. At least that was his method until Mom grew tired of looking at the bald spots. She instructed him it looked bad. He shifted to his leg hairs, nobody ever saw those bald spots. After Mom died he switched back to his arms.
He use to say, “a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one, son.” That may be true, but I have come to doubt it. The gash in my knee that was a half inch deep and three quarters of an inch long was my first reason to doubt. A similar cut on my hand offered further evidence. Besides, I’m not very good at sharpening a knife.
I have several knives I cherish. One is a “pig sticker” I inherited from my father but which I believe first belonged to my mother’s father. It’s too big to carry day to day without walking with a limp.
I have a small Buck knife my girls gave Dad and one I got for Christmas when I was a boy. When Dad was a boy he got a new pocket knife every Christmas. I carry an Case Cheryl bought me. But my most cherished knife is broken and scarred; it’s the knife Dad bought me for my eighteenth birthday. As far as I know it’s the only gift he ever picked out himself and gave me and it has an interesting history.
Dad bought the knife from a coworker who was a dealer. When I opened it I soon discovered one of the blades had a defect and would open too far. Dad took that knife for himself and bought me an identical one without the defect. He used a file to repair his knife, leaving a scar on the back of it. It became the one he used for the longest period of his life. One of the blades was broken off. The other one had an electrical burn near the base. He had cut through an old electrical wire that he thought had been disconnected for years; he was wrong. I have a couple more knives but none are cherished as much as that useless one. It is more cherished than its twin, which I still have somewhere.
April 29, 2010