July 9, 2011


I’ve seldom been without a pocket knife, attached as a fob to my keyring. My last one, adorned with a Dallas Cowboys team logo, was given to me as a gift. It had only one blade, with a nicely serrated edge, sharp. But something had gone wrong. It appeared to have lost the pin on which it pivoted, and would not open.

 Before that I had a handsome and compact chrome one, with several accessories including a corkscrew and tiny scissors that actually worked. It was given to me by a contractor who'd done some work at the condo. “Give me a coin,” he said when he handed it to me.

 “A coin?”

 “So it won’t cut the friendship.”

 I gave him a quarter. He gave me the knife. It was taken from me a couple of years later by the security guard at political rally in Fort Myers where Joe Biden gave the keynote. It was either that, or be turned away. Could I get it back? No. There was obviously no time nor resources for tagging such items, which had already half-filled a large cardboard box at the gate. I hesitated. Dammit. But I was stringing the event for the local news and could not turn back. The guard, it would be fair to say, gave me no quarter. But then he wasn't there to make friends.

 The day after my Dallas Cowboys knife broke I went to the neighborhood True Value, an old-fashioned hardware store with narrow aisles, lots of bins, and everything you want, in search of another. My favorite help there was a whimsical old man in an apron, fond of magic tricks, who could locate the object of my quest on the vaguest of descriptions. He once pulled a bolt that I was looking for out of my ear. He hasn’t been around for some time, though, and I don’t have the heart to ask. That he simply disappeared is a denouement with which I’m content.

I asked to see the pocket knives and was shown a selection. The one I liked was a wicked little beast called the “Vulture II”. The price was right. I took it home. Its first task was to sever a couple of gardenia buds from the bush in the yard, which it did with crisp dispatch.