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Poem: "Cutting Through the Tape" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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Poem: "Cutting Through the Tape"
This poem came out of the February 3, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "trusted with a knife" square in my 12-30-14 card for the Rites of Passage fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] lynnoconnacht. It belongs to the Antimatter & Stalwart Stan thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Cutting Through the Tape"


After the third time when Lawrence
had to borrow Stan's pocket knife
to cut through the tape on a package,
Stan's father Stuart took some steps.

"Do you have a pocket knife?" Stuart asked.

"No," Lawrence admitted. His father
had never gotten around to giving him one,
even though most folks his age had a knife.

"Hmm," Stuart said, and the next time
Lawrence came over there was
a box waiting for him.

Lawrence opened it to find a Velvet Doe
pocketknife with a handle of tough black Gryppit
whose elegant curve fit his hand perfectly,
which opened to reveal a short pen blade
and a longer clip point blade.

When he turned it over, a flash of silver
showed his name engraved on the side plate.

"I don't know how to thank you..."
Lawrence said softly.

"As it happens, I have an answer for that,"
Stuart said, handing him a page.
"Finish this and the knife is yours to take home.
Until then, you can use it here with supervision."

Lawrence looked at the Whittling Chip requirements.
"But I'm not an Activity Scout ..." he said.

Stuart shrugged. "House rules apply,"
he said firmly. "Are you in or out?"

Lawrence thought about how much time it would take --
not just from him but from Stuart as well --
and rubbed his thumb over the engraved name plate.

"I'm in," he said.

* * *

Notes:

Carrying a knife is a rite of passage in many cultures. Sometimes it's part of adulthood rites, but more often, it marks the point in childhood or adolescence when a young person begins to acquire more serious skills and responsibilities that will prepare them for later adulthood. In Terramagne, knives are common and accepted, and most people handle them responsibly. More boys than girls carry a pocketknife, but it's not rare for girls.

In order to choose the best pocket knife, you need to know the options. Novices may benefit from starting with a single pen blade, which is difficult to break; and then move up to a dual blade because the narrow point, which is a bit more delicate, allows doing more things. Given Lawrence's age and personality, Stuart is betting that he can handle a dual blade, and that's one of the most popular styles in use. Adding a third can opener/screwdriver blade is handy, but more than that is usually overkill. If you want a multitool, get one, don't mix it with your pocketknife. Velvet Doe is a Terramagne company that makes knives and other tools primarily for women, but also very popular among teens and anyone else with small hands. (The name comes from a biological quirk in deer.) Gryppit is a heavy-duty material used for handles and other parts of tools, which offers high traction while being almost impossible to break or burn. Again, Stuart is showing that he knows Lawrence's tastes by choosing a tool which is dainty yet practical.

Unlike the Boy Scouts, for the Activity Scouts the Whittling Chip is a temporary patch (intended as a prerequisite) which is not to be sewn on a pocket flap, whereas the Toting Chip is a permanent badge that does go on the shirt pocket. Most troops earn theirs together soon after meeting the age/level requirements, and it's rare for a scout to lack this qualification. While scout rules are qualify-in and legal rules are disqualify-out, the scouting rules for knife safety hold enough weight to influence common law, and violating those rules in a way that gets anyone hurt can be grounds for banning someone from carrying a knife.

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