All my life, I’ve heard people say that a dull knife will cut you worse than a sharp knife. I know that isn’t true because I’ve always had dull knives and none of them has ever cut me. My favorite dull knife has been with me since my first marriage. At that time, knife sharpeners came around every few months in trucks that played jingling tunes to alert women to bring out their dull knives. Too bad there weren’t marriage-sharpeners — but I digress. The point is that my trusty old knife has been professionally sharpened only once or twice in its lifetime, and that was a long time ago.
It’s a good knife, with a one-piece length of steel that runs all the way through a wooden handle with brass studs. About ten inches long, I’ve used it for almost everything. It has cut through chicken bones, whacked garlic cloves, chopped onions, sliced carrots, you name it. In the last year, the handle has gotten a little loose, so I quit putting it in the dishwasher. I also started looking for a replacement, and found that I had a knife that chefs consider a treasure. I guess that’s why it has lasted so long and why no other knife has ever felt right in my hand.
Last week I plunked down an obscene amount of money for a knife that was as close to my old one as I could find. I have to admit it’s a lot sharper. Tomatoes take one look at it and practically fall into neat slices before they’re touched. Celery has never sounded so crisp when the blade goes through it. It is one sharp dude.
The old knife is still my first love, but I don’t want to completely destroy its wooden handle so it stays most of the time in its slot in the knife rack on the kitchen counter. So far, I have band-aids on three fingers. They keep slipping off and the cuts start bleeding again so now I’m carrying spare band-aids in my pockets. I suppose in time I’ll remember that the new knife blade is really, really sharp and stop cutting myself, but I may be wearing band-aids on every finger before I do. I’ll be glad when it loses a little of its sharp edge.
I read somewhere that Mikimoto, the cultured pearl king, once held a requiem for the needles that had been broken stringing his pearls. I understand that. I feel the same affection and gratitude for my old dull knife.