Out of the Blue

Requiem for a Knife

The unkindest cut of all

By Deborah Salomon

It was only a kitchen knife — a cheap one, at that. I have no idea where it came from, or how long I’ve had it, only that it was perfect. The perfect length (about 8 inches), a comfy grip (worn synthetic) and a blade that, magically, rarely needed sharpening, especially since I used it every day for everything except bread and tomatoes. I have an equally cherished serrated model for those. And a dozen more: stubby paring knives, a graceful cheese knife with pronged point, carving knives, steak knives, some with metal grips, others with wood, none just right.

None that glides through warm brownies every Friday morning.

About that infrequent sharpening: I’m back to using my father’s sharpening stone. He didn’t believe in electric sharpeners because they “wore away the blade.” Yeah, after 100 years. He had no need for the knife-scissors-lawnmower sharpening guy who drove his truck through the neighborhood, bells clanging. From apartment to duplex to house to condo back to apartment, I’ve left a trail of the kind of sharpener you screw into a doorframe and swipe the knife through a slit.

My favorite knife never went into the dishwasher. Tut-tut, I was admonished, by a chef who gave no reason.

My knife has gone missing many times but always found, usually in the darndest places. But almost a week has passed, which means if I threw it out with apple or potato peels . . . gone.

Which makes me feel sad, even panicky.

So I shopped several stores that sell moderately priced kitchenware. Most knives were mounted on cardboard and sealed in plastic, which prevented testing the grip . . . not that I considered ones with a fat rubberized grip. I wanted something slender and graceful, like my old friend which, out of habit, I still reach for.

I finally bought one that looked similar. Honestly, I needed a good knife to release it from the cardboard and plastic. What a disappointment. The grip felt slippery and new, the blade stiff and a tad too short.

Frustrated, depressed, still in denial, I launched one last search through the house, although the knife rarely left the kitchen. Maybe I needed it to open a package, or cut some string. Maybe it’s hiding amid the clutter on my desk or under the couch.

No luck.

I’m not wasting any more money on replacements. I’ll just broker a truce with a knife in the drawer.

Sentimental? Not usually, although I use my granny’s battered aluminum pot lid with a hole where the knob used to be. I also have an ancient metal jar opener and two bent and stained metal cookie sheets which in more than half a century have turned out approximately 50,000 cookies, nary a burned bottom.

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my corded phone that never got lost. Who among you hasn’t called your land line with cell, just to find the cordless handset? And vice versa.

These are the minutiae of life, things we hardly notice until they are gone. Most can be replaced by cutting-edge models for people who appreciate and believe they need bagless vacuum cleaners, quiet hair dryers, Swiffer mops.

But even a super-expensive knife honed in Germany for professional chefs won’t replace my favorite implement. Its loss cut deeply . . . a cut that’s still bleeding. PS

Deborah Salomon is a staff writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She may be reached at debsalomon@nc.rr.com.

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