04 August 2011

Do we have to get to summer so that knives can cut through butter?

In the group of expressions that are particularly irritating is the expression "knives that cut through butter". Looks like a really smart thing to say, but deep down it's an expression completely devoid of personality, something that goes with everything but in reality doesn't explain much. Hearing the expression "knives that cut through butter" as an answer to a question doesn't leave me assured that my question was answered, on the contrary, it leaves me thinking of about a dozen other questions that I need to ask.

First of all, the very object of the expression is ambiguous. The expression may be used both to describe something that cuts easily ("this knife cuts the meat like if it were butter") and to describe something that doesn't cut well ("this knife only cuts butter"). So right there it raises the question: if the knives can cut butter easily, does that mean that they cut well or that they don't?

But that's not the main problem. The problem is where one assumes that every knife can cut butter. Or at least that it cuts it as easily as everyone says. Do you think that's true? I see you ashamed, refusing to admit it, but deep down each and every one of you know what I mean: Knives Can't Always Cut Through Butter! And everyone arrives to that brilliant conclusion when winter comes and it's freezing cold, or when someone forgets to take the butter out of the fridge. That is a hard and solid block, whose pieces that we cut are always bigger than the ones we wanted! If an alien came down to Earth and see this block of butter, it would find it hard to conclude that it was the easiest thing to cut with a knife.

Everyone knows this. But no one assumes this blunder, and people continue to say out there that it is easy to cut butter. The most conscious ones ended up inventing a series of euphemisms to keep the error from becoming so visible: "It's like a hot knife cutting through butter". "It's like a sharp knife cutting through butter." "It's like a knife cutting through soft butter". "This knife cuts butter in the summer". "This knife cuts butter in the tropics".

With so much additions and modifications, shouldn't we start to think that the problem is really with the butter? Can't you really get anything else easier to cut? Try cutting through pudding, or jello, or peeled banana, or flour, or bechamel sauce! Any of these things should be much easier to cut than butter. Believe me when I say that if someone told me that something "looked like a knife cutting through bechamel sauce", I'd be perfectly enlightened.

Have some common sense, and help me eradicate this urban myth from the history of mankind. And to give butter, which is not as weak as they say, its well-deserved respect.

(versão portuguesa)

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