Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A couple of days ago I got a free knife. Yeah, this spivvy looking character came up to me in the street and said, "Eh lady, you wanna knife? Nice knife, sharp knife. Cut anything... yeah that's right baby... cut anything." And then he pulled out this blade and wiped it off on the back of his pants and then whipped it about expertly in silvery arcs, as his face got a little sweaty and red and his eyes began to shimmer like burning coals - "yeah, cut anything, baby!" - he was shouting as I began to get a little nervous and wondered if a wheelie bin would provide adequate shelter if it came down to it...

Actually, I was in Big W because I had some time to kill and I like to wander around in there sometimes, and an announcement came over the PA.

"Attention customers. If anyone in the store would like a free knife, please go to the counter under the sign that says 'Health and Beauty'. We are giving away knives to shoppers aged over 21. This offer is only valid for the next ten minutes, so if you want a free knife, no strings attached, please go to the counter now."

At first I wasn't going to go. I was like, "What do you want with a free knife, Mel?" And then I thought about all the crappy knives I've used in various share houses over the years. Like the one that the tip of the blade snapped off and it was kind of curvy at the end. And the ones where you needed to poke the tomato with the tip to break the skin before you could start cutting. And the one that was really a cheese knife but it really had the best serrated cutting edge...

Also I can't resist free stuff.

So I went and stood under the sign, where a number of people were waiting sheepishly. They were a surprising mix of age, race and gender, which seemed rather odd for a Monday afternoon. We had to watch a live infomercial-style demonstration of this product, which is called the Forever Sharp Knife.

It is made by a New Jersey-based firm with the dubious name of Twin Towers Trading. Do you remember the infomercials for it? They were great! They showed the knife cutting through an aluminium can. And it comes with a crazy juicer that you screw right into the orange and the juice comes dribbling out! I stood there with the credulous indulgence you show to a crappy children's magician, nodding and clapping in all the right places as the sales dude attempted to saw through wooden chopping boards and steel hammers with this knife, and then cut a tomato into paper-thin slices to demonstrate that it was just as sharp as ever!

He packaged up the knives, as you see in the picture - three knives, two paring knives and a filleting knife, plus two of the orange juicer things - and offered the box to people for $33 (online it costs US$35). I couldn't believe how many people rushed to grab the boxes. He must have done at least a few hundred dollars worth of business. Meanwhile, tightwads like me had to be satisfied with a free paring knife, valued at $5.

Five dollars? For that price I could have had a coffee over Time magazine, which has a cover story about autism right now, and I'm sort of into autism at the moment because I'm determined to prove to my mother that I don't have Asperger's Syndrome. And now I'm looking back over that sentence and thinking, what has my life come to?

As it turned out, the knife never had its triumphant debut that night, as we had a household crisis that made knives in very poor taste indeed. So it has stayed in my bag where hopefully it will come in handy one day.

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