Saturday, November 05, 2005

Got the Edge

I pulled Griptilian out of the drawer and clipped him to my belt. The Benchmade folding knife with locking blade and sure-grip handle snuggled against my hip. Griptilian is one sharp dude.

He woke up and yawned a big ole yawn.

“What’s up, Boss,” he asked, “we going somewhere?”

“Yep,” I replied, “big weekend. We’re on staff at the Outdoor Skills Leadership Training weekend. We’re cooking for the staff.”

“Cool beans,” Griptilian offered.

“Hopefully not,” I countered, “I bought extra jalapenos.”

“Cool beans,” Griptilian repeated. “Hey, maybe those wild jalapenos need to learn who’s boss, huh? I could do that.”

“Sure thing, Grip. Sure thing. You just hunker down and relax. We’ll be on the road soon.”

With that I finished packing up the truck, loaded up all the food and training materials and headed out into the sunset for a weekend of training, camping and fun.

We arrived at the campsite and set up our tent. Griptilian made himself useful cleaning up a few pieces of frayed rope and slicing a sheet of plastic in half. Not a stretch, but Griptilian reveled in being useful. The camp pulled itself together and soon people were drifting to their tents for the night.

Clear and cool, perfect sleeping weather, we decided to call it a night, too; tomorrow we had a lot to do.

Dawn broke like it always does, too early, but we were already up and getting the coffee on. Soon the staffers appeared and hung around the Chuck Box area where the good smells were coming from. Griptilian was still snoozing which was fine by me.

Breakfast was a simple affair: scrambled eggs and smoked sausage with warm flour tortillas, salsa and cheese. Fresh fruit, juice and coffee rounded out the menu. Griptilian slept through it all as I used the kitchen knives from my chef’s kit to prepare breakfast. I have a couple of Chicago Cutlery knives and a special Japanese blade for the heavy duty work.

There were no complaints from the participants, just yummy noises. My favorite.

When I’m the staff cook I take no chances. Sure, the District quartermaster is going to provide me kitchen gear, but, you know, it’s not quite the same using other people’s stuff when you cook. So, I bring my own kit: knives, peelers, a whisk, serving spoons and that sort of stuff. I store it in a very cool chef’s roll up bag that keeps everything neat and tidy, but at fingertip’s reach. Just pull the string and the bag unrolls to reveal a bunch of pouches where my tools rest, waiting for their opportunity to spring into action.

Mid-morning on Saturday Tom started to lay out his training session on knife safety.

Tom’s the Expert.

I like to pretend I’m an expert and show him a thing or two. Usually, that’s a big disaster. After all, Tom’s the Expert and I’m the Pretender. Cue the Platters.

This weekend, though, I struck it rich.

“Hey, Tom, did I ever show you my Griptilian? Locking blade using an AXIS mechanism and, oh, so sharp. Matte black. Sure-grip grip. Ambidextrous control. It’s a very safe tool. Did I mention sharp?

Tom was interested. “Oh, yeah, that’s a very nice knife.”

I felt Griptilian purr on my hip.

“Hey, would you mind if I used it in my demonstration?”

Griptilian nearly jumped off my belt in anticipation. “No, I don’t mind at all. Here.” I slipped Griptilian off my belt and placed him on the demonstration table among the other knives on display. Griptilian was definitely the coolest knife there, and he knew it. I thought I detected a little gleam from his blade.

“Hey, Tom, I’ve got another knife you might be interested in. It’s one I use for cooking. A Japanese santoku. What do you think?”

“Sure, bring it out. I’m always interested in showing specialty tools.”

The santoku is a nice knife. Meaning “three things” it’s the Japanese equivalent of a chef’s knife, good with vegetables, fish and meat. Can you say “way sharp?”

To describe my santoku is to describe every blade that was made and not made by Hatori Hanzo. Priceless.

I opened my cooking kit and pulled out the santoku. Schwinggggg! It gleamed in the sun catching the attention of those who were standing around. There were lots of Ohhs and Ahhs. The schwingggggg faded and it was silent.

I placed the santoku on the demonstration next to Griptilian.

Griptilian said, “Psst. Hey, Boss! Who’s the cutie?”

“Cutie,” I asked?

“Oh, yeah, man, she’s sharp and I mean way sharp. If you get my drift.”

“She?” I had never thought of the santoku as “she” but Griptilian seemed quite animated.

Later, Griptilian informed me, man to man, like, that the santoku’s name was Gin-Suki, meaning “beloved silver” and I must admit the name fit. Sleek and bright, the santoku was the sharpest and best balanced knife in my cooking collection. All other knives, even my workhorse Chicago Cutlery were flint tools by comparison.

She was a beauty all right. Griptilian was clearly captivated. And, then I got busy preparing lunch, demonstrating cooking techniques and started working getting dinner ready. Thoughts of Griptilian and Gin-suki faded away.

Dinner was a splendid affair, cooked in a Dutch oven. Smoked chicken enchiladas with a chipotle cream sauce, charo beans, green salad with Mexican goat cheese and an apple/pear/mango crumble, also cooked in a Dutch oven.

You know, it would be embarrassing to most people to get proposals of marriage at a training weekend like this, but having cooked for the staff in the past I’m used to the offers.

Later that night I asked Tom where my knives ended up.

“Oh, I saw you were busy,” Tom said, “so I stuck them in your chef’s bag. Figured you’d find them in the morning.”

“No prob,” I said, “just so long as they’re safe for the night.”

And, with that I headed over to my tent for a nice sleep. It had been a long day, all that cooking and other activities. I looked forward to a little shut-eye. Sleep came fast and I was out until sunrise.

Dawn arrived about two hours earlier than it should, and, as an aside, when I’m in control of the Universe I’ll fix that problem. I was up to get the coffee and staff breakfast going.

Rummaging around in my chef’s kit looking for a knife to open the bacon I found something unexpected.

A small, folding knife, barely two inches long.

Hmm, I thought, haven’t seen this before. I wonder where it came from?

I pulled it out and opened the blade. Wow! A folding santoku knife! It was a small blade, but santoku in shape. The locking mechanism was AXIS, patented by Benchmade. It was cool beyond belief.

Then it cried. Not a very loud cry, but a little wimper-cry.

“Oh, little bitty knifey, do you want something to cut,” I asked?

I grabbed a packet of bacon and ran the little knife blade across the top. It cut through like butter.

The crying stopped and the little knife settled down in my palm and went to sleep.

At that moment Griptilian peeked out of one of the pouches in the chef’s kit.

“Yo, Boss,” Griptilian yawned, “morning already? Where’d the night go?”

Gin-suki stretched next to Griptilian, looked up and said “Ohayou-gozaimasu!”

“Genki-desu,” I bowed.

I looked at Griptilian and said, “You have some ‘splainin’ to do, Bud.” Griptilian blushed a matte pink.

I placed the folding santoku next to Gin-suki and closed the pouch. That was enough excitement for one day. The bacon was starting to cook and I had work to do.

Then it hit me. Hey, I’m a grandpa. And I felt proud.


Anonymous said...

you are truly a strange individual. i like it. yet it's disturbing in a way, the knife that talks. and has offspring. just how did this knife pro create? and had you ever even told it about the birds and the bee's?

Zoe the Cat said...

Daddy!!! Why do you write so crazy!!??? Stop with the talking knives....pleaseeee???!!!?!?!?!?!

Anonymous said...

Yea i agree with sarah, too much camping...and Kill Bill. You need to come to Austin and be bad-dad for a Griptillian

Emily said...

I loved this entry! Your writing style is wonderfully original and I thought the whole story was hilarious. I cracked up at the end and had to read it aloud to my husband (who thought it was weird and I was weird for liking it), but it's just so good! Hooray for the knives! More power (and babies) to them!

jen said...

great post!

related question: which brand is the Santoku knife? I'm eyeing one to put on my Christmas list, and I'm torn between a couple makers...

Bret said...

Define irony: The link to the Benchmade site is blocked by our content filters, but a story about knives procreating is not.

schmims said...

You're so funny Bill!

Schmims' knife safety: Hide the block under the kitchen cabinets after watching a scary movie. If a bad guy breaks in, he won't be chasing me with my own knives!

Anonymous said...

So, is this new little knife real? I wandered through my favorite online retailers but didn't see it.