Scissor Sins

Scissor Sins

I saw my best friend Debbie’s brother maybe twice in my life. He was nearly 15 years older, and away at college.

But I did notice that one of his eyes seemed different than the other, and I remarked on it to my mother.

“Don’t say anything about it,” my mother said. “It’s a glass eye. When he was little, he was running and accidentally put his eye out with scissors.”

So, HE was the guy!

All this time I thought the kid who ran with scissors was a fictional character created to throw a scare into kids (like the thought of having a pair of scissors stuck in your eye wasn’t enough). Not only was he real, he was my best friend’s brother!

Personally, I couldn’t remember ever having had the urge to run while holding a pair of scissors aimed at my face, but if I ever had, it was certainly gone now.

My mother had a commandment regarding scissors that didn’t have anything to do with running. It was “Thou shalt not cut paper with good scissors.”

That poking scissors in your eyes wasn’t a good thing, anybody could understand, but not cutting paper with scissors?  Wasn’t paper the very thing we needed the scissors for in the first place? How could cutting paper be bad for scissors?

“Your grandfather used to sharpen scissors for people,” Mother would start out. “He always said that cutting paper with scissors was one of the worst things in the world to make scissors go dull!”

We generally had four pairs of scissors in the house – the “good” scissors, and the pinking shears, which Mother used for sewing, the barber scissors, which were permanently off limits, and a pair of crummy, paper-cutting scissors.

Naturally, the crummy scissors were never around when you needed them, not that they would have been of much use. They were so dull they wouldn’t cut butter — they just kind of pinched the paper between the blades, folding it over. You’d really have to work to find a spot on the blade that was sharp enough to cut. Actually, chewing the paper would have been easier.

Besides, the sharp scissors were always in the sewing machine, and surely Mother wouldn’t be able to tell her scissors had been used to cut paper. Not just this once. And after all, wasn’t paper made from fiber? Cotton fiber, wood fiber, cardboard … it’s practically the same thing.

And surely cutting fabric would dull the scissors eventually anyway. How could she possibly tell they were dull from having cut paper instead of corduroy?

Frankly, I didn’t think she could. And then … I turned into a grownup.

I took up sewing after my daughter was born. Cutting out fabric with crummy scissors, I discovered, was just as frustrating as cutting out paper dolls with crummy scissors — only more expensive.

So, I bought a pair from the fabric store – $50 — and they weren’t even the best ones.  The first time I had them sharpened, I was in for another shock. It cost $20 and would take two weeks!

I became fiercely protective of my scissors. I kept them in the protective sheath, hidden away from children, lest they be tempted to use them to cut paper, or even worse, duct tape!  After all, I knew what kids were capable of doing to scissors. Hadn’t I broken my mother’s paper-cutting commandment over and over again by cutting notebook paper, construction paper, and corrugated cardboard for Pete’s sake?

I became so good at hiding my scissors, that even I couldn’t find them. I looked for weeks, returning again and again to the usual hiding spots. Nothing. I gave up, and bought another pair.

I found them a week later, in a drawer that I had opened and rifled through at least three times. My sister’s church was gathering materials for poor women in Belize who hoped to earn a living by sewing. I gave them the scissors.

I figured that was the least I could do to make up for the paper-cutting thing.

Rock, Paper, Scissors Cookies

Drop cookies with raisins and pecans.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  •  3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Mix first 3 ingredients in bowl. Whisk sugar and butter in large bowl, 1 minute. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients, then raisins and nuts. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonful onto sheets. (Do not flatten, they are supposed to look like rocks.) Bake about 12 minutes.

1 Comment

  1. J.S. Mack
    Dec 30, 2013

    Another great article! In our home as well, to use the ‘good’ scissors inappropriately was a capital offense.
    Isn’t it so strange how we turn into our parents, and even stranger is when we realize it for the first time. As always you articles ring so true and close to home. Many thanks, and Happy New Year!

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