Christmas was crazy when I was a kid. Food, driving all over town, snow, tons of family members, toys of course and more sugar over a few day period than I was allowed to eat for the entire year. As crazy as the days were for my brother and I there were constants. Country ham, snickerdoodle cookies, presents wrapped in the same cordless phone box every year, Home Alone, The Christmas Story, random relatives and my grandfather’s pocketknife. It was a brown, wood handled, buck folding knife like the one seen below. He brought it out every year to open packages, boxes, and bags, and it was a thing of beauty. As a kid I remember thinking that I could not wait until I was old enough to carry a knife.
Eventually I was old enough (in theory) to have my own knife, which I bought with my allowance at the gift shop in Mammoth Cave National Park in my home state of Kentucky. It was a piece of crap but I loved it. I also remember cutting myself multiple times with it over the first weekend in which I owned it. I could tell you exactly what it looked like, but like many others, it did not last long in my possession.
When I was about twelve I was wading in a creek catching minnows and crawdads, a favorite pastime, when I found a Boy Scout knife in the muddy bottom. I took it to my dad who let it soak in something that took the rust off of car parts and it cleaned the knife off beautifully. I have not seen that knife in years.
At one point I decided I wanted a Swiss Army knife, the big one with all the tools. I saved up and bought it at a sporting goods store that no longer exists. I used all the tools, except the corkscrew and eventually lost both the tweezers and the toothpick.
A girlfriend once gave me a lame Christmas present of a mini Swiss Army knife along with a University of Cincinnati hat which was an extremely odd choice (I don’t even own a gun, let alone many guns which would necessitate an entire rack. What am I gonna do with a gun rack?). The knife lasted longer than the hat, but again I have no idea where it is today.
I have purchased roughly one hundred cheap knives at Wal-Mart for various fishing and camping adventures, all of which are broken or lost today.
This year I found the pocketknife equivalent of my wife, which is to say my knife soulmate, in my Opinel #9. It has the classic look of the knife my grandfather carried, the simplicity of my first pocketknife, and the durability of the most expensive knives out there. It only cost me about twelve bucks and I carry it with me everywhere I go. There are a ton of different sizes, I chose the #9 because it was bigger and though it is a bit bulky for an every day carry knife because of the rounded handle, it still fits nicely in my back pocket right next to my wallet, I often forget that it is even there. It does requires a little maintenance because of the fact that the blade is carbon steel (it needs to be soaked in mineral oil from time to time) but it is a great knife that I highly recommend. I feel pretty confidant in saying that Opinel knives are France’s greatest contribution to the rest of the world, well at least top five.
Every man must carry a knife. For one it is a versatile tool, you can do everything from eat an apple like a mountain man, to open a package, fashion something out of wood, or clean a fish if needed. The list of uses is endless. A good knife is also just as much an accessory or conversation piece as it is a tool. Your knife should be an essential when you walk out the door like your wallet, car keys, and whatever else it is that you carry with you every day. Don’t think that because you work in an office that you do not have a need for a knife; once you start carrying one you will realize all of the possible uses. There is a knife out there for every kind of guy. Are you an outdoorsy kind of guy? Rugged? Bearded? Try a buck knife or something from Case XX, or maybe find an awesome fixed blade (please don’t carry a fixed blade knife to work). Are you a computer guy? In the office all the time? Try a Benchmade or Spyderco. Are you a handyman? Always looking for the right tool? Try a Leatherman or another multi-tool. Are you an executive? Do you wear a suit to work? Do you care about style and fashion? Then you must have a Douk-Douk knife from Bench and Loom.
There is a knife out there for everyone, regardless of your type of manliness, yes there are many ways to be a man. Many people are afraid of knives and not without reason. Knives are serious weapons in certain situations, and should be carried with caution and thoughtfulness. I have no intention to ever use my knife in a fight, one because I am a pacifist (the topic of another post) and two because I have no desire to ever be stabbed*, which I think is a pretty good reason to never use a knife in a fight.. A knife is not always a weapon, but it is always a useful tool. So start searching the country for your perfect knife. Also, don’t go out and buy the most expensive or shiniest knife you can find, put some thought into it, do your research, find out if there is an old knife in the family somewhere or if there is a knife company out there that fits your personality. After all it isn’t just a knife, it is your new best friend.
Got a knife you love? Let us know what you carry and why it’s great in the comments.
More Pocket Knife Stuff
Every Day Carry– A simple idea. People send in pictures of the things that they carry with them every day, which often includes pocket knives.
Opinel Knives– A French company, click on the English version
*Being stabbed is on my list of things to never experience. Other items on that list include but are not limited to, kidney stones, being shot, being bitten by a king cobra (though seeing a king cobra is on my bucket list) going to a Kenny G concert, being stranded on an island full of dinosaurs off the coast of Costa Rica, meeting Kathie Griffin, going to a Rascal Flatts concert, and having a hernia (again).