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Tuesday, January 03, 2006 

first knife

I bought a new pocketknife the other day; it is a Swiss army knife. Cool not too big but functional. It made me think of my first knife. It was a Barlow. The two resemble each other only in that they both have mass and take up space.

The Barlow is the first knife of most kids; it has two blades that are almost impossible to open and is made of regular steel the kind that rusts. The handle is made out of brown plastic, and hit has a handy metal loop on it that you could tie a string to or clip to your scout belt.

The day I got the knife was Christmas day 1977. I had been eyeing this large box under the tree for weeks. It was as tall as I was and 3 feet wide. I wondered what could possibly be in it. Christmas day I found out. Inside it were 17 other boxes descending in size down to one that my Barlow knife barely fit inside.

When a kid gets a knife he does 4 things with it. He whittles a stick, he cuts himself, he sharpens the knife, and then he promptly looses it. I was no different.

I opened the knife and admired it. The blade was almost as sharp as a stick of liquorice. I showed it to my dad who said “ great son, don’t cut yourself’. I then went outside and found an appropriate stick about the size of a hot dog wiener. I first thought of carving one of those need wooden chains that the old men at the feed store are known for. I made one notch and realized I did not know how to do that. So I made a sharpened stick. It took me about two hours, remember the knife was dull.

As I was putting the finishing touches on my sharp stick I cut my thumb. I still have the crescent shaped scar on the knuckle on my left thumb. I started to bleed. I bled all over my pants, I bled all over the porch, I went inside and started slinging my hand to stop the pain and slung the blood all over the wall, curtains, carpet, the cat and my mother. She calms me down and bandages me up. I tell dad he says uh huh.

I then take the old time wisdom that only a dull knife cuts fingers and sharpen the knife into half of its former dimensions, it will now shave the hair off of my arm. I know have what is known as a sharp knife. I show my dad he says “uh huh”. I show my mom and she turns white. The next day the knife is missing. I notice no correlation between showing my mom a razor sharp knife and the knife missing. I tell my mom she says “uh huh. I tell my dad and he rails about how the knife cost him a whole dollar and how money don’t grow on trees and smack like that.

Years latter while searching for a pencil in my mom’s room in a shoe box under her bed and find the knife inside one of her shoes in a box marked Arbor Day decorations. I tell mom she hides her surprise under a veil of disinterest. I put it in my pocket and wander out to the barn. My Uncle Fred is in there feeding some cows he looks at me and says Got yer knife on ya. With pride that only a 12 year old can have at being asked for a knife by an adult. (He asked me because he knows I am the sort of responsible and resourceful person who, if is wearing pants, would have a knife in his pocket), I pull out the knife and say. Yup but be careful the blade is razor sharp.

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