Saturday, December 6, 2008

Barrel of fun

I never cease to be amazed at how random thoughts trigger a progression of ideas that leads to someplace completely unexpected. When we're driving somewhere, my wife will occasionally ask me "What are you thinking?" and I'll usually say, "Nothing, just driving" because the actual answer, while it makes perfect sense if you follow the step A to B to C sequence until you get to what I'm thinking about (usually well down the line at Step Q), is just totally weird.

I recently read a fascinating article in the New Yorker about Bob Kramer, a Master Bladesmith who works exclusively on the creation of absolutely amazing kitchen knives. As it happens, we ended up talking about this article last night at dinner as five members of my family gathered for dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate my grandmother's 93rd birthday (happy birthday, Babci!). Anyhow, I woke up thinking about these knives for some reason which sent me off the the races and I ended up remembering something that had been long tucked away in the dusty recesses of my head.

So here we go, bear with me...

I'm thinking about these Kramer knives. Does he make them the same was as they used to make swords? Probably not because the metal in a truly high quality sword would be folded hundreds of time within the blade. But what if the sword blade wasn't folded like that? Not every sword had that level of craftsmanship. Did someone ever just hammer out a pointed piece of metal and call it a sword? But would it be strong? I imagine it would just be a long, pointy metal club of sorts with chips and dents in the edges. Hey, where do I remember seeing something like that...a sword with a no edge and a grey hilt. Wait a minute, I think I might have played with something like that as a kid (get over it...I'm almost 40 and grew up in a time with wood burning kits, candy cigarette, no seatbelts, and lawn's a wonder any of us survived). I remember having sword fights with friends but the swords were really heavy and dented and could bend easily. In fact, I think they might have been mine. I have no idea where they came. I used to keep them in that metal can in my closet as a kid. Wow, that's a blast from the past. I'd completely forgotten that can years ago. It had blue and white vertical stripes. I kept the metal swords and my wooden swords and my baseball bats and my toy rifles and light saber there when I was a kid (really, it may sounds like I'm an ideal candidate but I didn't grow up to join the NRA or a medieval reenactors group). I distinctly remember the clunking sound stuff would make when it was dropped into it. Whatever happened to that can? I think it might have belonged to my uncle when he was kid. Did it have some sort of a label or logo on it? Maybe outlined in orange? I think I saw cans like that in my grandparents' basement once. Now that I think about it, it might have contained pool chemicals or something years before. That's right, my grandparents had an aboveground pool in their backyard when I was really really little. I remember being in that pool with my parents, hanging on to the ladder and then swimming. Is that where I learned to swim? Wow, I'd forgotten about that.

And so, a conversation over dinner that kicked off as we watched my mother use my uncle's pocket knife to remove the wrapping from my grandmother's new lipstick morphed into a memory of me learning to swim in my grandparents' backyard in Farmington, CT. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

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