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    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    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.

    Comments on "I Was [Not] a Junior High Ninja"

     

    Blogger anne said ... (11:04 AM, October 11, 2007) : 

    Great post. Do you know what ever happened to the Junior High Ninja from next door?

    I once had a pocket knife that I carried in my backpack. I think I put it in there in case I was stranded in the woods or lost in a snowstorm - having just read Snowbound for the first time.

    It was this dinky little thing they give away at county fairs. With the nail file and scissors and toothpick and tweezers, and one tiny blade that always broke a nail when you pulled it out.

    I never thought about it until one day my bag spilled and out popped the knife. A teacher saw it, and realizing what the situation could become, instead picked it up, handed it to me, and said "don't ever bring that back here again."

    Believe me, I didn't.

     

    Blogger Kat said ... (11:25 AM, October 11, 2007) : 

    I never carried any weapon when I was younger. Well... I did bring a backpack of water balloons to school at the end of 6th grade. There was a bunch of us that did. It was boys against girls. Someone musta told, because Mrs. Gawron found out and scolded us. She said we were not going to be allowed to get our graduating certificate. I was really scared that we all were going to be held back a year!

    Yep, I am a badass too!

     

    Anonymous Evil John said ... (12:29 PM, October 11, 2007) : 

    My high-school couldn't have been more harmless. Junior-high was sometimes nasty, though.

    The nice thing about pencils is that you're _encouraged_ to keep 'em sharp.

    I'd usually walk around with one tucked under my watch band, inside the cuff. Handy for any purpose.

    (I still often carried one there in college. Mike may remember my "Want to see a magic trick...?")

    Not a knife, and hardly a deterrent, but it'd penetrate a light shirt and a quick stab when one isn't expected can do wonders.

    I still get a warm-fuzzy thinking of the bully backing away, shock and fear on his face, wondering what the hell had just happened.

     

    Blogger gomezfive said ... (3:10 PM, October 11, 2007) : 

    back in hs, us cool kids [read band and drama nerds] used the band/cage room as our locker room/morning social spot.

    apparently a .22 shell must have fallen out of curt's trenchcoat pocket when he took it off and hung it up on a hook. we were always shooting stuff out at curt's farm (cans, bottles, old cars, random pest vermin, holes in our jeans, etc., typical out-in-the-country fare).

    mr. lawrence (band director)found the shell on the floor, and advised the principal, who called the sheriff who then conducted a k-9 search.

    the search was just about done with no suspect results discovered when the dog started sniffing at curt's cage. not barking, just sniffing persistently. what the dog found was a moldy 32 oz. Andre the Giant mug that we periodically would put random lunch foods/liquids/wrappings/trash/fingernails into and then dare curt to "drink the sick". innocent enough.

    but when the sheriff reached in to pull out the mug in question, it clanked against a prop that curt had built for either a play or just for a prank in his cage. it was a bundle of red road flares taped together with a random jumble pf wires running from the flares to a broken bedside table alarm clock, which was also broken open, exposing it's inner workings where the wires were attached.

    curt got called down to the band room and then had to explain that everything was not as it appeared..except for the moldy mug of sick.

    after this all went down, there were handbills posted in the cage room that we were no longer allowed to store food/food items within.

    not a single word about the shell...or the fake bomb.

     

    Blogger gomezfive said ... (3:13 PM, October 11, 2007) : 

    and then next day dave and i started a hair ninja clan. and then proceeded to write a feature story in the paper about recent fictitious hair ninja attacks upon the student body.

     

    Blogger Gina Ventre said ... (4:09 PM, October 11, 2007) : 

    I love this piece. You didn't tell me about this. There is something satisfying in reading about it on the page. I can picture what you looked like and what you were like as a person as I read.

     

    Blogger Audient said ... (4:50 PM, October 11, 2007) : 

    Evil John -- that's a move I needed to learn from you about 20-25 years ago.

    Anne -- I used to carry a little Swiss Army knife, but that stopped around the time that I started walking through metal detectors for a living.

    Kat -- I remember the water balloons! I think I helped you make them...

    Gomez -- you've told me that story before, but it was cool to read it.

    Gina -- single draft, impromptu and extemporaneous, and totally on the fly. Thanks!

     

    Blogger gomezfive said ... (10:26 AM, October 12, 2007) : 

    have i become repeater story guy? already? have i always done this? this realization makes me want to eat a bullet.

     

    Blogger Audient said ... (1:31 PM, October 12, 2007) : 

    I remembered the part about the band director finding the shell casing -- I didn't remember the part about the "flare-bomb."

     

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