I Was [Not] a Junior High Ninja
Spending a few of my formative years in Youngtown, I was not a stranger to kids bringing weapons to school. There never was a shooting at school anytime that I was at school, but I did know kids with guns -- mostly pellet guns. And sometimes they would end up in lockers at school.
One of the guys next door, one who was a grade ahead of me, was into the whole ninja thing. He never took any martial arts classes, but he'd watched a bunch of movies. He had a black outfit that he got from a catalog, and the special shoes for walking silently. And he had nunchaks and Chinese stars. He'd sharpen up the stars and we'd play with them, throwing them at an old rotten garage door. I learned how to throw a star and make it stick in the soft wood.
I borrowed a star from him for a short time. And one day, one day when I was feeling particularly vulnerable, I wrapped up the star in a hand towel and put it in my school bag. I got on the bus with my bag, and thought about how I had leveled the playing field somehow.
But as I sat on the bus, I realized that there was really no way to get to it in a hurry, no way to quickly draw the star. And would I really be prepared to use it? Or suffer the consequences of using it? Of course not. And when I got to school, I put the bag in my locker, and carried my books without the bag through the day. I had heard of locker searches, but they were always done when someone was tipped off that someone had something they shouldn't have in their locker. I knew if I just kept quiet, that no one else would have to know what I had, and that there would be no reason for the principal to look in my locker. My playing field was no longer leveled, and indeed it had never been. No one would have the chance to react and treat me differently.
At the end of the day, I skipped the bus and walked home. Walking the streets with the star concealed seemed smarter somehow than taking it back on the bus with me. I walked with purpose, as I had learned, for that tended to avoid confrontation. I got home and hid in my room.
Later that evening, I returned the star to the real would-be ninja next door. He suggested that we go out and throw it against the old door out back, and I told him I had to get home. I never touched one again.