The Old Pocket Knife

Ah, the old pocket knife–the Sodbuster, the Peanut, the Buck, the Trapper, the Swiss Army. It used to be a comfort to carry a small blade. Now it’s a burden. I had to trek all the way back to my truck to deposit my pocket knife. Moments earlier, with a little Case Peanut in my possession, I had been denied entry into my local county agricultural fair. Imagine that: agriculture without pocket knives. Alas, we live in such a time.

I’m not sure how much damage someone could do with a Case Peanut. As its name implies, it’s a small implement with two tiny blades. I wouldn’t call it a weapon of mass destruction per se unless it’s the hands of a very well-trained criminal. Most well-trained criminals usually overlook it for weapons that pack more punch. Still, the security guard wanding people was just doing his job and banning entry to all weapons, tiny pocketknives included. 

The Case Peanut

I could be wrong, but I believe it was once possible to win pocket knives at the fair. Cheap flashy folding blades were prizes used to lure boys into spending all their money. In hindsight, a knife as a prize may seem like a bad idea, but the games were rigged. No one ever won one, so the knives posed little safety hazard. 

The main reason I carry a knife is because I never know when a woman will ask, “Does anybody have a pocket knife on them?” I’m a happily married man, but thought of being caught empty-pocketed when a distressed lady needs a blade is too much to bear. Since my wife carries her own pocket knife in her purse, I rarely get to indulge that little pleasure of rescuing a damsel from an unraveling thread or over-taped box. The only time my wife has requested my pocketknife lately was when she ordered me to slash tires on a gas-powered moped with no muffler that rides by our old farmhouse at 3 AM every night. 

I got my first pocketknife when I was eight, and it was promptly taken away. As I remember it, the knife was a little red beauty, and so was the wound. As my mom prepped for a trip to the emergency room on a Christmas morning, I could barely hold in my tears of pain I was so elated. The thought of a legitimate scar was exciting enough. Showing off stitches would have made me the most popular boy in second grade. “What did you get for Christmas?” I imagined my friends asking. I would hold out my hand stoically, three stitches in my forefinger. My friends would clamor in envy. Unfortunately, my dad was able to stop the bleeding with old fishing rags and super-glue, so I couldn’t brag about a trip to the ER.

But, like I said, little pocket knives are only dangerous in the hands of well-trained criminals and eight-year-old boys.

19 thoughts on “The Old Pocket Knife

  1. True story. My Swiss Army knife’s little scissors and tweezers saved my PhD thesis, back in the Dark Ages of Hard Copy Editing.

    Ran out of $ for professional typing before running out of things that needed changing, but I had saved sheets that could not be used. I carefully cut out bits and pieces. I stuck them to almost-correct sheets with double-sided tape to make correct sheets. Was afraid the same trolls who enforced use of overpriced paper with preprinted red margin lines would detect this flouting of archivability rules. They didn’t.

    1. Oh, wow, now that is dedication and ingenuity too. One of these days they’ll probably create a computerized swiss army knife that has desktop publishing features built into it.

  2. I’m a big fan of pocket knives and Leatherman multi-tools, and it all probably dates back to getting a pocket knife as a kid. Looking back, I find it amazing that my mom and dad would trust me and my brother with blades, but they did.

    If I recall correctly, I used mine mostly to whittle big sticks … down to smaller sticks. My grandpa was a great whittler, so I was probably trying to follow his example.. Back when thread spools were wood, he would whittle them into tops for us. Certainly couldn’t do that now.

    I love to give Swiss Army knives of all kinds and multi-tools as gifts because I think everyone should have at least one.

    Another of my fondest memories regarding knives and tools involved me brandishing my Leatherman and disassmbling something — a table, maybe? — while all the men stood around and talked about how they needed some tool to do the job. 🙂

    The Leatherman lives in my car, but in my purse, I have a Leatherman Micra, a small Swiss Army knife, and a tiny Spinel knife I bought in France.

    Clearly, I have a thing for gadgets. The only worry is remembering to remove them from my bag when we travel. I couldn’t bear to have them taken away by the TSA!

    1. I have Leathermans that I keep in my fishing tackle box and both of the toolboxes of our tractors. The definitely come in handy. I’ve tried whittling before but don’t have the patience, but do remember some of the older men in our church showing off creations that they whittled. That seems like a dying art.

      1. It surely is. But having Leathermans won’t be — not if I can help it! Just gave one to Darling Daughter’s Partner for his birthday and one to her for finishing her Master’s Degree. I think I like them because they reflect my philosophy (which I kindly shared with DD … a thought I’m sure she appreciated): It’s better to be a multi-tool, capable of many things than to be exceptional at one.

        Well, it’s always worked for me! 🙂

    1. That’s my problem with pocket knives. In T-minus 24 hours I will lose them. Now I keep one on my key chain so if I lose it I’m forced to find it.

  3. We have, I see, survived another right-wing threat this year. As we put away the carving knives, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. If we could just convince ruling politicians of the severity of the threat lurking in every bathroom in ‘Murica. Yes, I speak of the dangers of unlicensed bathtubs. (Sadly more than humorous social observation on your part, you underscore the lunacy of a society without moral compass.) Keep up the good work, you radical dude, you.

    1. Yep, if a tiny pocketknife is dangerous, then a turkey carving knife is definitely a weapon of mass destruction. Hope you ate your fair share of Turkey and had a good Thanksgiving!

  4. I had to give up carrying a pocket knife years ago because for some reason I had a tendency to stab or lacerate my hands as much, if not more, than accomplishing anything practical.

  5. I always loved pocket knives. As a kid, the one with the most gold stars for toothbrushing would win a pocket knife–that is, until my older sisters pointed out that they had no interest–and the prize was changed to something so boring that I don’t remember it. I didn’t get my first pocket knife until I was ten–because of the incident with my brother’s pocket knife (Can you imagine that he beat me out in the tooth-brushing stars?) Anyway, when I was eight, he let me use his–without any instruction…and I promptly cut off the end of my finger. That did warrant a trip to the ER, and five stitches. It was no bragging celebration, mostly because it delayed my own ownership of a pocket knife.

    1. Ouch, five stiches in the finger sounds painful, but glad they were able to stich it back up. At least, you’ve probably got a good scar to show off now. I’ve still got the scar from my little Christmas morning incident.

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