Our bread knife had been missing for better than a month. Ikea had one with an asymmetrical wood and stainless handle that appealed to my inner Swede for only seven dollars. Where the original bread knife had gotten to was beyond my imagination, and below my cut-off for concern. Time passed, bagels were sliced and toasted, the new knife edged its way into our daily lives. The transition was as smooth as buttering toast and we moved on.
On-line sources were not expansive enough for what I required. For reasons peculiar and picayune I decided one afternoon to use our old really big library style dictionary to look something up. “The first clergyman was the first rascal who met the first fool.” was a quote from Voltaire but in what context? Who did he say it to? Was he just being clever, or was he making a point?
I needed the two thousand page dictionary to discover the truth. My discovery was very different. There was our old bread knife! It had been used (I don’t know when) as a book mark. The entry “costumbrismo” was underlined. There was an old photograph (very wrinkled) that had been folded and refolded years ago into quarters there as well. It was a sepia toned image of a chicken pulling a toddler in a little two wheeled wooden cart, and “Havana 1873” written on the back in florid script. Written down the book’s margin in red was “Zarzuela” followed by four exclamation marks.
With my head buzzing full of 18th century French philosophy and 19th century Hispanic art I thought “I can make a cardboard scabbard for the old bread knife and seamlessly join it with gaffers tape to the black wooden block containing the new bread knife. Brilliant!” I was suddenly stunned by my entire lack of imagination. Given this sprawling mash-up of information and concepts in art and the humanities I was still mentally dealing with the bread knife!
Inaction would have been unacceptable. I refiled the errant bread knife under “R” in the dictionary to indicate both “redundant” and “resolved”. I put the folded chicken cart picture in my wallet for another day.
Doug Mathewson is an editor and author of short fiction who likes books and art. He lives near the water and is easily distracted. He edits at Blink|Ink, hangs around at Full of Crow and posts his work at Little 2 Say. He says to stop by some time.