After I finished my US Navy boot camp experiences, I traveled to Tennessee to attend a year’s worth of training. I shared a room with a wannabe ninja, who infected the guys who lived in both of the adjacent rooms. They piffled off to a martial arts place nearby and came back with 3-toed shoes, ninja outfits, bo staffs and throwing stars.
I didn’t mind all of the constant bad-English commentary:
“You… you there… in the… shadows by the door. You will come now out here so I may… KILL YOU!”
The ninja-in-the-shower trick was funny the first three times, but you tend to stop jumping when you opened the shower curtain to see a ninja prepared to chop off your head, especially when it happened over and over.
The one thing that really bothered me were the throwing stars. These were not ordinary souvenir throwing stars, they were well-made, razor-sharp, and everywhere I went in the building. Everyone had them sticking out of their cinder-block walls. I admit to owning a set of three, but they were works of art, and I kept them in a case. I stepped on their stars, sat on the stars left on chairs, and even got hit in the leg by one (luckily not bad enough to require hospitalization.
Doctor: “How did you get this throwing star stuck in your leg?”
Wounded Me: “Ummm, I slipped in the shower, Sir.”
I put up with the throwing stars because there was nothing I could do about it. The next time I went with the “weekend warriors of the orient” I picked up a butterfly knife. These were contraband on the base, but I didn’t mind the risk. I practiced daily opening and closing the knife so that I could do it without thinking.
We were all hanging out in my room, just me and the five ninjas of quasi-doom, with them throwing the stars at McDonalds McNugget sauce packs. They were thrashing my tile floor, but I was five days away from transferring to my next school, and therefore my next room assignment in another building. I had pulled out my knife and was opening and closing it while watching the TV. My roommate suddenly yelled, “Think fast!”
I was in the opening phase of playing with my butterfly knife. It snicked open lightning-quick, and I lifted my hand to block the incoming packet of barbecue sauce. The razor-sharpness of the blade combined with the momentum of the packet worked together in that moment of microseconds. My hand wasn’t fast enough to get to the packet, but the knife blade was sticking out of the top of my fist. It caught the sauce package dead center, and split it with laser precision down the middle. The two halves proceeded to pass me on both sides, hitting the two jerks from room 206. I didn’t have a single spot of sauce on me, but they had nasty red splotches all over their ninja suits.
I was stunned momentarily, but I nonchalantly turned my attention back to the television. All five of them were staring with their jaws agape.
I must say that if I had wanted to slice the packet of sauce like that on purpose, I couldn’t do it. It was pure chance and luck. They were yelling and laughing, and maybe just a little bit envious. I poo-poo’d it as nothing, but they all were so impressed that they took me out to dinner. We had Chinese because it was next to the martial arts store. Within the next two days, there were more illegal butterfly knives in the building than pairs of clean underwear.