The humble coffee mug or cup is a ubiquitous object at best. You wouldn't think of it as anything other than a container to get a nice warm cup of joe to ones mouth, let alone an object of possable embarrasment to anyone. After all, it's just a coffee cup, right?
To my father it was a knife hone of opportunity not to be passed up. Dad aways told me that a dull knife was like a gun without ammo. Dad took his little pocket knife seriously, as it was part of the items a man in his day always had on him, like a handkerchief or bandana, a watch, and a pocket knife. In my dad's day, if a man had his pants on, he had certain items with him.
Enter the coffee cup.
Dad always told me that one should never pass up a chance to maintain his knife. Even though dad never carried much of a knife, he was a fanatic on keeping as razor an edge as possable at all times. He and Mr. Van, always had the view that when a man walked out the door in the morning, he never knew what will happen in the course of a day that he may need a sharp cutter. And it may be a dire need in an emergency. So dad was fairly uninhibited at touching up his little knife when he had the chance here and there. The 'there' of it being sometimes his mid-day cup of joe. Back then, it was not uncommon for a man to give a quick touch up to his knife using the unglazed ring on the bottom of a coffee mug. Now we have Sharpmakers and Edge Pro's and all kinds of gizmos to sharpen a knife. Back in my dad's day, things were a little bit more un-complicated. There was no rocket science to putting or keeping a sharp edge on a knife, and the simple way of doing things was looked on as the best way.
It wasn't so bad at home, when dad would finish lunch and making sure the last drop of coffee had been drained, turn his cup over and give his knife a wee bit of honing on his cups bottom. Mom would shake her head, and just put up with it, but she was quite flustered when he'd do it out at a diner someplace. Looking at dad, he was quite predictable in his preparations. He'd take that last gulp, peer into the cup making sure it was all gone to the last drop, then he's reach into his pocket and take out his little peanut. Mom would always act embarrased, saying "Oh no, Lee, do you have to do that?" But it was never a very strong protest, and I have a feeling that it was just a quirk of dad's nature that was something she put up with.
He'd take a few swipes back and forth, feel the edge gently, nod in satisfaction and then it was over. It took dad only about a minute to do the deed. To be fair, that was not an unusual action in some blue collar diner type of places in that era. Sometimes a fellow diner would see the knife and ask what it was, and they would take out thier own knife and he and dad would compare pocket knives and talk a bit. In fact, I have some memories of sometimes the situation turning into a sort of courthouse whittlers scene trasplanted to lunch time. Some man and dad looking over a well used small jack or penknife of the day, and swapping tales of past fishing trips and the one that got away. Men comparing pocket knives was a normal course of events in thier day. Sometimes the stranger would have a wife along, the two women would exchange glances while shaking thier heads as if to say "Men, what are we going to do with them?"
I guess it was a different era back then. I only think of this because I was just having lunch with Karen at the Silver Diner here in the area, and I had the weird thought that I should check on my pocket knife and maybe give it a bit of a lick. But times have changed now, and I think I'd probably find a SWAT team responding to the 'old fart with a knife' call. Not that I worry over that as much as Karen's reaction to me honing my knife in a public eating establishment. Sometimes we have to keep the better half happy, and stiffle our manly impulse. There may be worse things to face than a SWAT team.