Dear Tom Selleck . . .
Yesterday was my cousin Mario's birthday. I didn't realize it was his birthday until I saw his brother and sister posting about it on Facebook. I had just been talking about him the day before that. I was telling Jackie B about the time . . .
*cue squiggly flashback sequence*
I would like to say I was very young when this happened, but twenty-something is old enough to know better. It all started when I brought a knife to Christmas Eve at Granny's house. (note to self: NEVER a good idea!)
This wasn't just any knife - this was a stiletto. A camouflage stiletto. That's right - the kind with the 'button'-like thing that makes the blade pop straight out. It's a beauty. The Chief found it and I adored it and he adored me, therefore the stiletto was mine.
I was attending Christmas Eve alone because The Chief had blown chunks all over the street next to my dad's car the Christmas before thanks to an obvious hangover. And I was living in sin with him, therefore having sex with him. Totally his fault. Let's just say he was the devil in my family's eyes and not welcome.
So I plopped down on the love seat next to my cousin Mario who was just as thrilled to be there. We were the same age and he's only my cousin by marriage, not by blood, but we always had a bond. He was Hispanic (and therefore suspect to gang activity by the elders of the family) and was still somewhat new to my 'non-prejudicial' family, so was kind of an outcast. I loved him from day one and wanted to make him feel more welcome. So I showed him my knife.
Being the same age, but more importantly the same maturity level (not very) we sat there giggling and playing with the knife while the Christmas Eve festivities went on around us. Everyone was so wrapped up in who was getting what, they were completely oblivious to our shenanigans.
Mario really wanted the knife! He begged me for it. He offered to pay me for it. No deals! It was mine! I was a bit possessive over my new toy and kept grabbing it from him and he kept grabbing it back. Remember how mature we both were? I told him to give it to me so I could show him a really cool trick.
He gave the knife back to me and I held it against my Granny's loveseat cushion to demonstrate the safety. When you hold it against something and press the 'button'-like thing, the blade does not shoot out, but instead disengages from the spring mechanism. Or whatever. I'm not mechanical or technical or knifey, but it seems as though that's what happens.
So anyhow, I hold the knife against my Granny's cushion and press the button . . .
This is the part of the story where when I'm telling it verbally, everyone stops and gasps and says 'oh my God, the safety didn't work and you cut your granny's love seat cushion?' and I say . . . 'if only I were so lucky!', it only gets better from here.
As fate would have it, the safety DID work. Lucky me! Mario was awed. And just like a bad infomercial, I had to say to dear Mario . . . But wait, that's not all!
So the blade is now loose in the 'chamber'/handle and you can't use the knife once this happens until you have re-engaged the spring thingy. Or whatever it is. For my next trick I'm going to show my dear cousin Mario how make this happen and he will be so impressed he'll squeal like a schoolgirl in the middle of Christmas Eve and all of the other cousins will make fun of him!
This was the potentially fatal mistake of the evening. The mistake that sealed my fate. The mistake we will have to rehash at every fucking Christmas Eve until the end of time.
Now my dear Tom . . . the only way to re-engage the spring thingy is with a swift flick of the wrist. This manually sends the blade out of the 'chamber'/handle and locks it into place so the 'button'-like thing will now pull it back in and out on command. When executed correctly this maneuver is quite impressive. Awe inspiring really. Especially when I do it.
So I say the magic words . . . Watch THIS Mario!
And the knife flies. out. of. my. hand.
OH! MY! GOD!
Remember it's a 'swift' flick of the wrist? This means I really flung that sucker hard. It sailed across Granny's living room (seemingly in slow motion) where the entire family was gathered for a Norman fucking Rockwell Christmas Eve. It flew like a son-of-a-bitch. And did I mention it's very heavy? And did I mention it's a fucking knife?! And did I mention when the safety has been engaged and then you flick it, the blade comes OUT and LOCKS?
Oh holy Mary, mother of a . . .
I couldn't look. I can't stand the site of blood. There were children in the room. I was sure someone had been stabbed and was bleeding out to their death there in Granny's living room on Christmas Eve. We were going to be on the news. I was going to jail. I was getting the electric chair.
No one knew I had a knife or that Mario and I were playing with it or what the hell had just happened and so there were 'what the fuck' looks on everyone's faces. All but one . . . my cousin's girlfriend's face.
Because . . . her face was buried in her hands and she was hunched over rocking back and forth in pain! Fuck, fuck, fuck!!! Not a good sign. I couldn't look anymore. I was sure when she came up for her dying breath, there would be my stiletto sticking out of her jugular. I buried my face into Mario who then pried me off and told me it was ok, I could look. My cousin's girlfriend had a HUGE welt and shiner all around her eye. 'Lucky' for me the blade did NOT come out (maybe I DO believe in Christmas miracles) but the butt end hit her cheek/eye bone full force.
At that moment, I did what any remorseful person does.
I took off running like hell. I fled the scene. I literally ran out of Granny's house and ran all the way to my parents with no coat in the snow. (They lived one driveway away, that was me using my creative/drama queen license)
All I could do was cry. I cried and cried and cried and cried. My mom came over and yelled - A LOT, Mario came over to comfort me and laugh his ass off, and finally my dad came over and calmed me down and assured me I was not banned from Christmas. He also assured me we would look back on this and laugh someday. He was right.
My cousin's girlfriend never pressed charges, recovered nicely, and she's now his wife. Every Christmas Eve the story is told and everyone laughs.
Those who have always laughed the hardest though are Mario and I. We shared an extra special bond after that. When we actually did mature (kind of) and had families of our own he'd tell me I wasn't allowed near his kids or he'd ask me if my knives were locked up when he brought the kids to my house. It was always a joke. And after all those years he still always wanted my damn stiletto. And I always said no.
In 2007, we lost my cousin Mario to Lou Gherig's Disease (ALS). Even when he was very weak with the disease he'd beg me to give him the stiletto. I still said no. That was our game and it gave us a laugh when there wasn't much to laugh about.
It was a long, emotional drive to his memorial service. I kept a grip of that knife the whole way and Mario and I talked, laughed, and even sang "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince. I brought the knife into his memorial service just to taunt him one last time. If nothing else, it made his mom and I smile.
*cue squiggly back to the present sequence*
The knife is broken now. I keep it in my top desk drawer and think of Mario every time I see it and smile. I often think about giving it to one of his kids or siblings but then he'd win. So I'm keeping it. I win! Love and miss you my partner in crime. Happy birthday Mario!
Edie B. Kuhl