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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Never Enough Knives

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, November 14, 2009.)

I think there’s a connection
between a keen edge and a sharp mind
A long time ago, my dad told me a small knife is better than a big knife for field dressing a deer. He was right. And, being a budding outdoorsman who thought his dad was the greatest hunter in the world, I asked him if I could have his knife. Maybe I thought having it would make me the hunter that he was.

I reckoned it would suit a six-year-old just fine – it was small, light, and looked kid-sized compared to some of the knives I’d seen. It had a white celluloid handle and was made by the Western Knife Company of Colorado. Dad didn’t give it to me then, but assured me by carving my name in the back of the sheath that it would someday be mine.

Many years later Dad kept his promise. I have better knives, but once in a while for old time’s sake I take his knife deer hunting. It’s a knife that will always be special, even though he almost wore it out by sharpening the blade countless times.

Today I have more knives than I actually use, but I don’t have enough. Hunting knives, pocket knives, fixed blade knives, folding knives, Swiss Army knives and homemade knives. My favorites are the knives that once belonged to someone else.

Besides Dad’s hunting knife, I have an old Ka-Bar “fighting knife” with USN stamped on the tang. It came home with my uncle, a patriot and a World War II Navy veteran. It’s big – 12 inches long – because its user is likely to ask a lot of it.

At the other end of the spectrum, I have a couple of old miniature knives that you wouldn’t ask to do much more than a manicure. They were a gift from a long-gone friend. I also have a handsome W. R. Case knife commemorating the bicentennial anniversary of my home town, a gift from a newer friend. That knife is too beautiful to ask to do anything.

One more knife I’ll mention. Dad once gave me an interesting knife brought home from a friend’s trip to the Far East. It appears to be a home-forged knife with a bone handle, perhaps the leg bone of a dog. It has two folding blades, and both blades feature engraved characters in some language I’ve never been able to identify. I use it only for a conversation piece, and in doing so maybe someday I’ll find out something about it. I just hope the words on the blades don’t say “Death to the infidel!”

Although women use knives, knives are definitely “mantiques,” or collectibles for men. Knives are as simple as tools get – blade and handle married as one. A knife is the original multi-purpose tool, useful for countless tasks.

And whether they’re old and rusty, shiny and artistic, fixed blade or folder, knives often speak if you’re listening.

Sometimes you’ll see a man take a knife out of his pocket and examine it closely, then put it back. That’s one more use for a knife. “What’s that,” you ask? It might have told him a story. Or maybe he used it to focus his thoughts. I think there’s a connection between a keen edge and a sharp mind.

It’s a sad fact of today’s world that a knife in someone’s hand raises suspicion. I’d rather not part be of that world. I’d rather be part of a world where a knife is a sign of trust – especially when you give someone that knife. Give a man a knife and you’re telling him you believe in him.

Somehow, the gift of a knife strengthens a relationship like nothing else can. If you want to cement a relationship with a man, give him a knife. It’s the perfect gift for the man you think has everything, because no man ever has enough knives.

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