Knives are a dominant force in many of our lives. There are the classic designs, the valued collectibles and, perhaps most of all, the users. Of the latter the ones I remember in a special way are those with which I accidentally cut myself. Of those cuts, three stand out.
Cut Number 1
I was 11 or so and rode a Western Auto Wildcat bicycle—the kind with the Hollywood handlebars and banana seat with sissy bar—most everywhere. At the time the oil company then known as Esso, today’s Exxon, had the promotion “put a tiger in your tank” with Esso gasoline.
To help sell it they gave away furry toy tiger tails with elastic looped straps people attached to their car gas caps so the tails would fl op in the breeze as the cars motored along.
I had the bright idea that I would cut the looped strap of one of the tails in two and tie the resulting straps around my banana seat sissy bar so the tail would fl op in the wind as I rode my bike. (To my later chagrin, I didn’t know how to do the old loop-tie trick back then.)
I pulled a large serrated knife from the kitchen drawer and proceeded to cut the strap—and also the base of my left index finger. It was one of those ragged-jagged cuts, and, when Dad walked in and saw it, I thought he was going to come un-gas-capped, so to- speak. Oddly enough, I don’t remember the cut hurting that much.
Anyhow, five stitches later I had learned just how fragile human flesh is.
Cut Number 2
Years later while fishing I caught a bream and was in the process of filleting it with a Marttiini classic fillet knife when zip, zap! the blade went right through the bream and across, over and through the tip of that same left index finger. The cut did not require stitches but the Marttiini blade was sharp as the dickens, and my finger burned like fire to the bone almost immediately after I cut it.
To this day I can recall how it felt and shudder at the memory.
Cut Number 3
The third most memorable cut happened while I was on what back then we called satellite television. In the early 1990s, BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame© member Bruce Voyles was BLADE publisher and the original host of The Knife Collector’s Show on the old Shop At Home Network. (If you Wikipedia Shop At Home Network, Bruce is glaringly omitted as one of the hosts of The Knife Collector’s Show.) I worked for Bruce back then and assisted him on a few of the satellite telecasts.
On one of them we had a number of custom knives that Bruce wanted me to display on shelves to help viewers see what they were buying. One of us had the bright idea of “standing” the knives tip first next to their sheaths on the shelves.
I propped up a small damascus fixed blade built by since-retired custom knifemaker Robert Brothers, along with its sheath, on a shelf. As the cameras photographed away, being the colossal klutz I am I bumped the shelf. The knife came tumbling down point-first into the webbed skin between my ring finger and pinky. You guessed it—I let out with the “sh__!” word in full earshot of the show’s television viewing audience.
Bruce took my on-air epithet better than I thought he would. (Unlike today, profanity was forbidden on television back then.) Maybe the best part was the knife did not sell and Brothers, being the good Samaritan, gave it to me—but not before having it etched, “In Memory of Steve Shackleford: Finger The Stinger.”
I don’t have the old serrated knife or the Marttiini fillet but I still have The Stinger—and, somehow, all my fingers, too.
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