Riley Breckenridge's 'Everything In Its Right Place': An Expert Swordsman, I Am Not

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Welcome to Riley Breckenridge's bi-weekly column for PureVolume, titled Everything In Its Right Place. The drummer—and founding member of Thrice—will be bringing us his musings on love, life, sports and whatever else. Follow Riley on Twitter @RileyBreck.

Those of you were familiar with my old ‘3hree Things’ column for OC Weekly, you might recall a piece I wrote entitled “Life’s Uncanny Ability To Punch My Ego In The Balls.” The gist of which was that every time things seem to be looking up for me the puppeteer (God, fate, chance, whom or whatever) who’s in control of this wild ride through life of mine seems to steer me in the direction of catastrophe, embarrassment and/or physical pain. I suppose it’s life’s way of keeping me grounded and reminding me that I am woefully uncool and remarkably klutzy for someone who is actually a decent athlete. Or maybe I’m just prone to brief moments of paralyzing levels of dumb.

This trend of totally blowing it extends well beyond the hand butchering, drum stumbling and pants pooping detailed in the OC Weekly piece. I’m the moron who broke his wrist playing hide-and-seek at age eight. I’m the jackass who thought it might be a good idea to throw water balloons at cars at his buddy’s birthday party and had horrible luck good enough aim to hit a sedan square in the windshield and have the owner pull over chastise him in front of his friends and totally ruin the vibe at age 11. I’m the idiot who tried to knock a coconut out of a tree by heaving a large rock skyward, only to have it land squarely on his back as he ducked for cover at age 12. I’m the dingus who ate shit on his friend's moped and did a 20-foot headfirst slide on asphalt. I’m the stubborn dolt who tried to “conquer his fear” of riding mopeds later that afternoon by riding without a helmet and eating shit AGAIN and introduced the side his face to a Palm Desert residential street. I’m the dumbshit who crashed his new car into a wall at age 16. I’m the buffoon who blew out his knee in a flag football game at age 18. And I’m the pile of suck who slipped a disc in his back ollieing off a six-inch curb at age 21. So, yeah . . . my track record is impressively unimpressive (and I’m certain I’m forgetting something, or several somethings).

All of this dumbassery and misfortune and carelessness turned me into a generally risk-averse person as an “adult”: I will not ride a motorcycle. I will not go skydiving. I don’t drive like a maniac. And I don’t own a gun.

What I do own, however, is a miniature samurai sword*—or perhaps a really big, decorative Japanese knife. Or maybe a really sharp thing that is tucked away in my garage because it was a gift and I can’t bring myself to give it away. Whatever the case, this really sharp thing that is tucked away in my garage is the star in my latest encounter with catastrophe, embarrassment and physical pain.

About a month and a half ago, I had my brother and a couple of good friends (and former Thrice employees) of mine over to join me and my fiancé at our house for a barbecue. We were to dine upon smoked meats, imbibe somewhat responsibly and reminisce about “the good ol’ days” on tour.

We succeeded . . . for the most part. That is, until I decided—after around beer three or four—and for and absolutely no good reason (the two of which tend to go hand in hand), that we should head out to the garage to check out the really sharp thing that was tucked away in my garage.

I unsheathed the sword and told our guests that it was a gift given to me by the band’s old front of house engineer after a brief tour we did in Japan. And I may or may not have mentioned how incredibly sharp it was for what was basically a novelty item, as its blade glistened in the fluorescence of light in the garage.

“Let me see that thing,” said my friend.

To which I replied, “Nah, man. I don’t trust you with this. I don’t trust anyone with anyth-”

And that’s when I dropped the sword, blade down, not on the cement floor, not on the trunk of my fiancés car (which would have also been unfortunate), but on my left foot. The blade went in between my middle and ring toe, just below the middle knuckle.

“Uh ... ow.”

“Oh, jeez. What the hell did you do?” my fiancé asked.

“Uh, nothing. I’m fine. I’m fine.”

“Did you d-”


Or at least I hoped I was. I limped into the house, through the kitchen and down the hall with friends, family and fiancé in tow. And as I stepped into my office I noticed that my foot was warm, wet and OH GOD THERE’S BLOOD. I pulled off my shoe and was reminded of this:

There was blood. A lot of it. Peeling off my blood-drenched sock revealed that I had a deep sword wound on my middle toe and a decent sized wound on my ring toe. And it dawned on me that I was basically a centimeter away from not having a middle toe at all. It’s also dawned on me that my fiancé and I were a mere 10 days away from a long-standing trip to Hawaii, full of body surfing and snorkeling and hiking and frolicking on picture perfect beaches and, oh holy shit, I just totally ruined our trip.


I am happy to report that one pint of blood, three stitches to graft a severed extensor tendon, five stitches to close the wound and ten days on crutches later, I am the proud owner of a mostly functional yet mildly disfigured pair of toes and a severely bruised ego. And unfortunately, my aspirations of being a Olympic fencer, amateur swashbuckler or cast as an expert swordsman in a medieval action/drama have been dashed. (The Hawaii trip was a success, despite my inability to bodysurf until our trip was almost over.)

The moral of the story is this: Don’t drink and sword. Or sword at all. Or maybe just don’t be me.

*I recognize how absurd it is that an adult male in the United States in the 21st century owns a samurai sword, and I am also aware that owning a miniature samurai sword makes the ownership and possession of said sword even more absurd (and entirely pointless).

—Riley Breckenridge

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