*sigh* Remember in Dear Santa… I mentioned wanting a new knife? For those that (for good reason) don’t read every word that I write here’s the bit relating to the knife:

Gerber Lockback Pocket Knife
I lost my knife last year. The one that I’ve had for about 8 years. I want another one, just like the one I had. You remember, it’s the one that bought for $30 and then had to FedEx from the airport that time I forgot to pack it? I know it was silly to pay $40 to FedEx a $30 knife halfway across the country but I really liked it. I don’t want one with one of those gangsta serrated edge blades… the odds of me having to cut my way out of a burning vehicle with it are really pretty small so let’s just keep with the standard blade. Besides, my dive knife has a serrated edge on it so if I ever have to cut my way out of a burning vehicle while scuba diving I’m good. Just a standard folding knife with a 4 1/2 inch blade.

Over the weekend I made a quick trip over to Bass Pro Shop to pick up several things for the winter hunting season. While we were there my wife and I spent a long time looking at pocket knives. I have been avoiding buying a new knife. I really did lose the last one about a year ago and haven’t bought one yet. I joked that as soon as I bought one that I’d find the old one and then I’d just have to take the new one back.

Pocket knives have always been sort of a personal item in my family. I know exactly where my grandfathers pocket knife is stored. I know exactly where my dads pocket knife lives when it’s not in his pocket. I can tell you the make and model of both. My grandfathers pocket knife had been sharpened so many times that nearly half of the blade was gone. It was still the same length, mostly, just really thin. I have no idea how long he had that knife but it was a long time. My dad has had his knife for as long as I can remember so well over 30 years. I don’t like the fact that I lost mine but I knew that at some point I’d just have to give up and buy a new one. My everyday life is affected by the lack of a knife. It’s expected that I have one. If two or more rednecks are standing around one of them will have a pocket knife. In fact, if you don’t have yours you can count on being able to say, “got your knife?” when you need to cut something and having one presented instantly. My brother and his friends recently flew out to go to the Nascar races with me. Since they flew, none of them had knives with them so it became apparent quickly that mine is lost and has been for a long time. It was terrible. Hmmm…

As our Preacher used to say, “Ya’ll hang on, I’m gonna chase a rabbit for a second”. There is a protocol to borrowing someones knife. Here’s a few rules to follow:

  • It is expected that you will use it and give it back. If whatever you’re doing takes more than a couple of cuts go find your own. Don’t borrow someones pocket knife and keep it for half a day.
  • If you cut something that makes the knife dull. Do Not Sharpen it! Give it back, apologize profusely and offer to buy alcohol as penance. Each person sharpens a knife differently. The angle of the blade as it strikes the sharpening stone is different for every person and changing it can take hours to fix. Oh and, for the love of all that is holy do not use one of those store bought sharpening tools on a knife. That’s a great way to lose a friend.
  • By the same token it is a great honor ask someone else to sharpen your knife for you. It implies that the person is a master “sharpener” and you could never hope to meet his skill. Occasionally, people will offer to sharpen your knife for you. That is a tricky situation so it’s usually offered with great care. “So, uh, if you don’t have time to do it I wouldn’t mind putting a new edge on that knife for you.” Don’t offer to do this unless 1) You know what you’re doing and 2) you can offer the service without offending (you probably can’t. :0)
  • Always give a knife back to the person that you borrowed it from in the same state that you received it. Some people will open a folding knife before handing it to you. Others will hand it to you closed. It is VERY bad luck to hand it back closed if the person handed it to you open (and vice versa).
  • If passing a knife that is open or a non-folding knife always present the butt of the knife to the person you’re handing it to. Just hold the back of the blade and hand them the knife. Don’t try to hand them the sharp end.
  • A knife is not a hammer… especially someone else’s knife.
  • A knife is not a screwdriver… ever… dammit. No, I don’t care what your excuse is… EVER. Get a screwdriver…. sheesh.
  • Ok, back on track… where was I? Oh, right! I’m expected to carry a knife. I like carrying a pocket knife and I like to be able to cut things when i need to. No one likes looking for a pair of scissors to open one of those darn super vacuum packaged items from Wal-Mart. With a knife, you can whip it out and make short work of those things. By the way, ever noticed that all knives at Wal-Mart are packaged in such a way as to require a knife to open them? I’m just sayin…

    Still, I was hesitant to buy a knife but having seen my Christmas list and knowing that hunting season is approaching my wife wanted to buy me one (I love her too). We looked for over an hour for a knife that was simple knife. In the old days, there was one kind of knife. It had three blades. One long “General” blade with a sharp point, one “Utility” blade with a rounded point to make it more sturdy and one very small blade for detail work. Oh there were different brands and models of course but they were all variations on the three blade theme (barring the ever popular Swiss Army which no one in his right mind would ever consider a “real” pocket knife). Later the single blade lockback knife became popular but for years that was it. Now… Now there are knives with blades of all shapes and sizes. Most of them have no function other than to look “cool”. Some of them are knives for specific application which I’m OK with but a pocket knife, one that you carry with you daily, should really be a general purpose knife (barring the swiss army knife). There are thousands of knives and none of them looked anything like my old knife which was exactly what I wanted. I looked at, I’m not kidding, really, thousands of knives. None of them worked. Some had serrated blades (completely useless), some were too big, some where too small, some I couldn’t figure out why anyone but a Ninja would be caught dead with and some… some defied explanation. After an hour of looking I finally gave in and picked a knife that “mostly” looked like my old knife but not quite. It was a little thicker, a little heavier. It had a different locking mechanism and a “quick open” blade. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a SWEET knife and it cost my wife almost $100 to buy it. It just wasn’t “MY” knife.

    As soon as we left the store she opened the package and presented me with my new knife. I dropped it in my pocket and worked on getting used to carrying a knife again. It was dull (as are all new knives) but I put off sharpening it. I thought that if my old knife turned up I’d be able to take this one back and get my money back for it. You can’t take a knife back once you’ve sharpened it.

    Eventually, I decided to sharpen the new knife. I went and found my sharpening stone (a trusty and well worn Arkansas Stone (made in Kansas?)) and “put an edge on it”. I spent hours getting rid of the “factory edge” which is nearly the same as you would get with an automatic sharpener (remember those are against the rules) and putting a new edge on it that’s just right for me. The target angle is one that is high enough to provide a good sharp edge but low enough to not have too fine of an edge and thus require sharpening more often. At some point (pun intended) a knife is sharp enough to cut anything you are likely cut with it so making it sharper just means that you’ll have to “hone” or sharpen it more often. After a lot of work and sweat I finally had the knife exactly like I wanted it. Just sharp enough to shave the hair off of my arm and no sharper.

    Two hours later my wife found my old knife in a pair of camo pants that I wore hunting last year. The new $100, freshly sharpened knife now lives in the ubiquitous “top drawer” of my chest of drawers. and my old knife lives in my pocket again…

    *sigh* Two days in a row that I’ve been bitten by “superstition”

    Lost and…

    3 thoughts on “Lost and…

    • November 26, 2008 at 4:35 am

      You know *why* the old knife was found, right? You left out a point of superstitions about knives. You never *give* a knife to a friend as a gift. You never mentioned giving your wife any money for the knife. I’ve received two knives before – each came with a nickel so I could buy them.

    • November 26, 2008 at 4:59 am

      Too true. I did forget to mention that bit of lore. Where I come from the standard currency is a penny.

    • November 26, 2008 at 5:21 am

      I lost the charger to my digital camera, and knowing vacation was three days away, ordered a replacement and had it “overnighted”.
      You guessed it…
      I happened on the old one the day the new one arrived…
      Kept both, because I’m continually losing the damn thing and will probably need the new one eventually.
      Keeping the new knife is just good insurance, isn’t it?


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