When I was just a young boy an older man told me, “No real man ever leaves home without his pocketknife.” Well, that stuck with me in life and I am rarely without a 2 or 2.5″ blade in my pocket. You just never know when you’ll need to clean your fingernails or cut up an apple. One rule of owning a multi-purpose implement of destruction is you don’t question where it’s been or what it’s been doing.
I’ve not had that many knives because I take care of them and don’t leave them lying around. The one I owned the longest was purchased at Jones’s Hardware in Greenfield back in the early 1970s. It fell through a hole in my pocket in the 90s and was forever lost. I replaced it with one I had purchased from Ashling’s Hardware before they went out of business. I still have that one but unfortunately the bone handle on one side somehow got broken.
For several years now I’ve been carrying around a Buck-Wenger Highlander model Swiss Army knife. Fantastic piece of manhood with a 2.25″ blade, fingernail cleaner and file, can opener, bottle opener, leather awl, straight and Phillips blade screwdrivers, toothpick, tweezers, all in a well made compact bundle. This is just what every up and coming MacGyver needs to be packing. Almost every task can be performed in some manner with a Buck-Wenger Swiss Army Highlander.
Since 9/11 the rules for carrying a knife and being a real man have changed. Somehow because a couple of terrorists were able to intimidate and gain control of a plane load of Americans with box openers the pocket knife has become persona non grata. On a recent visit to the Statue of Liberty (the freakin’ Statue of Liberty, the nation’s number one symbol of freedom) I was made to go through a security check and empty my pockets into a plastic tub. Without a thought I followed instructions and was shocked to be told that I couldn’t take my Buck-Wenger Swiss Highlander with me, “It was a potential weapon.” I was given two choices, surrender the “weapon” and not get it back, or take it outside and hide it in a safe place among 6 million New Yorkers. Given that I had been in line for too long and the temperature was hovering around 100 I decided to give it up.
I hated giving up that knife. Somehow I feel like I abandoned a good friend to the wilds of Gotham City. What really pissed me off was that the TSA dude paid no attention to the two plastic BIC pens I had in my shirt pocket. I wanted to explain to him and his supervisor that I could very easily take one of those pens and jab either of them in the carotid artery and alter their existence forever. To have done so, however, would have altered my visit to the freakin’ Statue of Liberty. God only knows how many of my body orifices would have been poked, probed, and penetrated before, or if, I was ever freed.
For the rest of our vacation I felt violated and betrayed by my country and out of protest refused to clean my fingernails or slice an apple, eat a hot dog, or ride in a Chevrolet taxi; all symbols of America. Returning home I immediately got online and began looking for a replacement knife on eBay. As if adding insult to injury I found all kinds of Swiss Army knives being sold and advertised as being contraband from security searches. Each year the TSA and other government agencies seize tons of contraband from security lines and much of it ends up in government surplus auctions and/or on eBay.
Just this morning I won an eBay auction for a Buck-Wenger Highlander Swiss Army knife. If the one that arrives in my mail has a toothpick that is jammed too far into the handle I’m going to be pissed. I will have just paid $20 to get back my own damned knife.