Darlene Ramos

Darlene Ramos

How much do you accomplish with a butter knife that has nothing to do with spreading butter?

For all the years I ran my small town café, a butter knife was my go-to tool for almost anything I needed to fix on my own. Pretty much if a butter knife didn’t “cut it”, a hiring was required.

It is true there was a handyman husband involved, but he was so often an hour or more away at his own work or occupied with equally important matters I wanted taken care of at home.

So a butter knife it was for prying and loosening, lifting away, scraping, and getting into needed things for needed outcomes.

When I used my particular butter knife — one of substantial weight and strength, I sometimes thought of my mother and grandmothers, who often said to me as I grew up: “Get me a butter knife.” When their men were not around, a butter knife was their helper, too.

The other morning, my husband was “in the building”, busy with a periodic cleaning of gunk beneath the sink-stopper in the bathroom. It was a frosty, gray morning and the grumbling began when the cap somehow slipped from his grasp and settled with an irretrievable “thunk” into the drain.

He refused my suggestion of a butter knife and even a vintage set of pliers I sometimes add into my mix of problem-solvers.

“That will never do it,” he said with certainty. “It’s got a tricky edge and it’s in there tight. I’ll have to go to the garage and get my good set of pliers.”

Going to the garage involved more fuss and at least a minimum of dressing in warm socks and shoes and a heavier jacket for a few moments of searching. But search and return he did with his prized pair of pliers ... which did NOT work.

More grumbling, but now a willingness to accept the butter knife I thrust at him through the doorway.

A little tuck-under and a wiggle, and apparently up it came. That’s how I heard things from the kitchen. (But do you think he would confirm this??!)

And this is when I thought: God does bless women who are alone through butter knives.

I said to my man: “See? I know the value of a butter knife. If you should be gone and I’m alone taking care of things, it’s a butter knife for me. All those years at the shop I used one for this, that, and everything. ... I don’t need no stinkin’ tool box!”

Now don’t get me wrong. I know women can be very capable with a tool box — and with weaponry for that matter. My own granddaughter is a second-year student studying to be an auto mechanic, and she fires a mean shot, often at the center of a bulls-eye.

But basic and old-school is good, too. Something that doesn’t require muscle or weeding out from a multitude of options, something at hand and as ordinary as a butter knife will do.

I almost don’t know how to use a butter knife for its intended purpose anymore, do you? They are either out-sized or clunky, for my butter dish or even for our dinner plates, or wimpy or pointless for anything else, like cutting meat. You can’t slice a thing with a butter knife, and I far prefer handy little spreaders that are more optimum for slathering things perfectly.

But I still have a full supply of butter knives in my kitchen drawer. I keep them for ... well, I don’t know why I keep them. Probably for the one person a year who might ask for one. Maybe because they’re expected in a drawer, maybe because the minute I give them away I will find I really need them.

Maybe you still use butter knives in multiple ways? If so I’d like to know what for! I see them as nearly obsolete, like orange reamers or crank ice-crushers, things that are still needed, but better forms have taken their place. I still need a cutting tool, but almost anything seems better than a butter knife!

So, the most sensible place for a butter knife seems to be in my “everything” drawer — the catch-all receptacle for all things hardware. It falls right in line there, with measuring tapes and screwdrivers and rubber bands and all manner of second-rate stuff my husband casts my way.

Funny how he thinks all this “it will never do” stash hardly matters, because he knows I always rely him to rescue me anyway. And as long as I can, I will.

But rest assured, I do know and “get” the true value of a butter knife!

Darlene Ramos is a frequent contributor to The Dunn County News and former owner/operator of a small-town café. She resides in rural Boyceville, with her husband, Ramon.


Dunn County News editor

Barbara Lyon is the editor of The Dunn County News in Menomonie, WI.

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