Masculinity is a funny, fragile little creature. We all know the toxic lengths to which men will go to validate their existence. Women bear the brunt of this – at the very least, they have to calmly and patiently stroke said fragile creature, assuring it that it is, quite plainly, a lion of such manliness that if anyone truly recognised it, they’d pee themselves with panic. But that is the very least they have to put up with.
In my experience, for men it’s different. Rather than being a placating hand, they are either ally or enemy. And, given that masculinity is at its heart a complete coward, strong men are allies and weak ones are enemies. Because you never pick a fight you might lose. That would just look bad.
And so this week, my weakness was recognised and prodded by a micro-lion. And it never feels good. But the best thing about weakness is knowing that you’re not crippled by arrogance, pride and the million rules of manliness. My rules are my own and they are, mostly, about honour, truth and sacrifice.
And that I should always have access to a knife. Now, I know that sounds violent. I promise, despite provocation, I have not murdered a single person this whole week. But tools are so deeply engrained in my sense of what it means to be a man. If I close my eyes, I can almost feel the handle of every tool in my father’s workshop. I can hear the noise of his plane sweeping through wood fibres. The smell of 3-in-1 oil and the glint of a sharp edge getting sharper on a grey stone.
Knives are one of our simplest tools, but they do so much. I have three Spyderco knives – Honeybee, Grasshopper and Kiwi 2. They are all sharp, strong and sit very well in a hand despite their diminutive stature. With them I’ve opened parcels, unpicked stitching and sharpened pencils. To me, there is nothing scary or negative about them. They are not and never will be weapons. That’s what we’ve got a poker for.