Barry Smith: Irrelativity
“Anybody have a knife on them?” the guy asks. There’s a group of us gathered in a garage, helping a friend move some heavy stuff. Everyone pauses at the knife request, but nobody responds.I’ve always wanted to be that guy who has a knife on him. You know, THAT guy. And I think this is going to be a good day, because I do – yes, I DO – have a knife on me.In fact, I’ve had a knife on me for the past month. From the moment I started the process of leaving Aspen and moving to Paonia, before the first box was even taped together, I started wearing a knife. It was big and manly, a bone-handled Buck knife with a long, sleek folding blade that rested perfectly in a rugged, well-worn leather belt holder. It was heavy and felt (and looked) good affixed to my belt. The only problem was that this big knife, which I found at the thrift shop, was very, very dull. So dull that you couldn’t really tell the edge from the non-edge. So dull that after a few failed attempts I no longer bothered to take it out to try to cut the packing tape. So dull that the only time I actually used it successfully was to hammer in a small nail. I didn’t even unfold it. This knife was so dull that a rock would have been a better tool choice! I tell you, folks, this knife was dull. So dull that, when the guy asked if anyone had a knife, the only reason to whip THIS one out would be if he had a piece of toast that needed butter spread on it. And only if the butter had already been cut.I knew this stunt knife would not do once I got to Paonia, because I’m pretty sure that Paonia is the sort of place where things will need to be cut, and right away. No time to run inside and get the scissors from the kitchen junk drawer. Wearing a knife that doesn’t work may be well and good while I’m hanging out around the house in Aspen, but this behavior will not fly in the brave new world of P-Town. Since I’d already packed my Ronco Ready Sharp, I swapped out the big paperweight stunt knife for the more practical Swiss army knife once I arrived at the Paonia town limit. This is also from the Aspen Thrift Shop, has someone else’s initials carved into it (thanks, CAC, whoever you are) and, apart from the missing tweezers, is in great shape. It still has the toothpick, even. Amazing! That’s usually the first thing to get lost. But, since I don’t know “CAC” personally, and am therefore unfamiliar with their dental habits, I’m not likely to be putting it in my mouth. Tweezerless though it is, the blades are sharp. When you can find them, that is. In addition to not having quite the same belt appeal as my former Tarzan knife, I can’t imagine the embarrassment of someone in Paonia asking me to borrow a knife and me pulling out the wrong blade in front of them.”Oops: That’s the corkscrew. Here, I think this one is the kni-oops, that’s the cappuccino foamer. Sorry, got this in Aspen, you know … ahem … ah, here’s the-oops, no, that’s the realtor commission calculator slide rule.”And the blade, once I do find it, is just so tiny compared to the Buck knife. But still, it does the trick.”Anybody have a knife on them?” the guy asked. And the other dudes all looked at one another and shrugged.”Right here,” I said, just like I’d rehearsed. He tosses me a bundled packing strap that needs the plastic tie cut off it. I unsnap the knife holder, trying to not do so with too much flourish, take out the knife and unfold the tiny blade. I cut off the plastic tie and hand the whole thing back to him. Nobody seems to take much notice. But that’s OK: I don’t need fanfare. Becoming the guy who has the knife is its own reward.”Thanks,” the guys says, then returns to what he was doing.No, thank you. Really. Thank you.
Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays in The Aspen Times. More at barrysmith.com.
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