the first thing i suppose i should do is apologize to roman polanski for sorta using the title of his first film. this has nothing to do with that movie though it’s been a number of years since i’ve seen it and, well, you never know there might be something to it.
i’ve been packing a pocketknife since i was a kid. a fairly young kid i guess. at the time it was a boy scout knife. a handy little thing if there ever was one. i’m pretty sure my folks got me the knife after a neighbor girl around where an aunt and uncle lived disappeared and was never seen again. yeah, stuff like that happened even in the early 50’s. nothing like these end of times goings on but still there to rear it’s sad ugly head.
about the same time i was given a nice or sorta nice hunting type knife to be kept in or on the headboard of my bed. i was told, by my father, not to be afraid to use it if necessary. fine. whatever you say, pop. i believe i was told the same thing about the boy scout knife. be prepared was and still is their motto. i was never a boy scout but i was prepared.
my mom and i walked a lot of places when i was a kid. she never learned how to drive. one of those strange oddities of the 20th century to be sure. i was also told by my dad should anyone try and mess with mom while we were out walking about to use said boy scout knife on them. yeah, just another crazed world war 2 vet dealing out the does and don’ts of old time urban life. or maybe just to many episodes of the old jack webb b/w tv show ‘dragnet’ as well.
any the damn ways, i’ve always packed some sort of folding iron in my pocket since those long ago days. regular readers of this insanity will recall the ass hole mexican customs agent in puerto vallarta lusting after my swiss army knife. the swiss army knife became my pocket knife of choice years ago. mainly because it has a nice corkscrew on it, among other things. the corkscrew being the main selling point. a good italian boy should never be caught without a corkscrew. trust me.
we were in our last port of call on our alaska cruise. ketchikan to be precise. to veer, i always put the knife in the checked bag whenever i go somewhere these post 911 days. the first thing i do is drag it out once we hit the room or where ever. i don’t feel right without it in my pocket. yes, even if i’m all cleaned up and looking sharp in a suit and tie. the knife is where it belongs.
ok. to further muddy the waters and veer around some more but it sets the stage here. i had been off the ship every day we were in a port. a few times off and on twice in one day. in order to get back on the ship you must have your bags x-rayed and your pockets emptied of all metal stuff and put into a tray. not unlike an airport screening. fine. any the ways, the knife had been in that bloody tray every time i got back on board the ship. no one had said shit about it.
well, that is until ketchikan. i was boarding the ship for the last time. i stuck all my crap in the tray. knife included. i had a bunch of other stuff as well. ex g/f had done some shopping before she went on a sea plane excursion. i’d passed on that. plane to small with still very vivid memories of small plane rides in nam. no thanks.
i was waiting for the shopping bags to come out of the machine and this security hump from the ship has the knife out and is looking at it. it’s deja vu all over again. an indo or paki guy this time. stupid as well because he couldn’t manage to get the main blade out to really check the knife out.
sir, you can not have this knife on board the ship.
yes, sir. you can not have this knife on the ship. i must confiscate it and give you a receipt for it and you can get it back when you leave.
wait just a minute. i’ve been off and on the ship in every port. some days twice. and now you are telling me i can’t have the knife? what sort of weird crap is this? if anyone had told me this the first time i was getting back on this ship perhaps i wouldn’t care. however, the horse is out of the barn here and you can kiss my ass.
i was also thinking that was just what the fuck i needed. some other goddamn hoop to jump through the last day on the ship. the last cruise day is hectic enough without further hoop jumping.
sir, you can have the knife back when you leave.
the line was beginning to back up. other security folks were looking at mr. apu like he was insane. although no one said anything. perhaps he out ranked them. i dunno.
no, no. i’m not going begging or groveling to get my knife back on the last day of this cruise. just get the rest of my stuff out of the damn machine and i’ll go away.
but sir, you will be able to get your knife back when you leave.
i don’t want it anymore. you can keep the damn thing. you are an ass hole and you can go to hell as well.
i left in a huff. sickened and saddened by the whole sordid affair. you might be thinking i was a bit rash in my actions. i don’t think so. i suppose i could have complained but i doubt it would have done any good. i did however mention it to my bartender that evening and like all good bartenders he was most sympathetic. tsk tsking as he made one of those world’s best absolut martinis. my fellow shipmates at the bar were incredulous. he mentioned something about speaking to the captain.
perhaps he did i don’t know. i never saw the knife again and no one came looking for me to explain or apologize or to tell me that i was the ass hole and not mr. apu. fine. what the fuck ever. i haven’t felt this bad about losing a knife since i lost a very nice folding knife years ago while swimming in the sacramento river. i didn’t realize that i had a small hole in my pocket and it just somehow floated away through that tiny hole. it was a very old knife. it had been my grandfathers.
a swiss army knife.