GateHouse — For all the things wrong with the world, such as that it hasn’t figured out a way to get rid of Jennifer Lopez yet and it apparently melts too damn easily, it does, satisfyingly, contain a great many ice-cold, indisputable holy truths, things that cannot be argued, no matter how much you’re Rush Limbaugh. Here are the first few that spring to mind: Matter cannot be created or destroyed, pi is 3.1416, Kevin Federline was the stable one, the area of a triangle is the base times one-half the height, I have an abnormally large nose, there were no WMDs and in almost any scenario, ninjas, for all intents and purposes, are awesome.
I’ll get to why we’re talking about ninjas in a minute — other than that, of course, they’re ninjas, and awesome — but first, some background. Despite what some of my ex-girlfriends and my therapist occasionally tell me, I am a guy, which means that my interest with ninjas began when I was somewhere around 256 cells old. For ninjas appeal to the very base instincts in all boys: mystery, danger, random but fierce acts of violence, swords, sneaking around places, throwing stars, the hint that you’re briefly touching a distant corner of the history of the world (especially if you’re growing up in the middle of Indiana), throwing stars, swords, throwing stars, throwing stars and finally, swords that have throwing stars shooting out of the ends of them. Throwing stars are huge when you’re a kid; there were sixth-graders in my elementary school who couldn’t name a single igneous rock or write their own first and last names without furrowing their brows and thinking about it really hard, yet given two pieces of loose-leaf notebook paper and 25 seconds, could deftly spot-assemble a four-ply notebook-paper throwing star that if thrown hard enough could hit you in the eye and make you feel like you just got back-kicked there by an angry mule and had to try really really hard not to cry but ended up going to the school nurse anyway because you just wanted an excuse to leave the room, um, according to my friend Chuck, who that, um, totally happened to.
Growing up as a boy, one is pretty much exposed to ninjas constantly, except that many of these ninjas are Nintendo characters or wisecracking turtles, and those ninjas kind of suck. And so, as one gets into adolescence, one’s blissful pre-adolescent ninja-based ignorance is slowly replaced by a nagging voice of reason in the back of your head, right by the brainparts used for memorizing the names of famous skateboarders and trying to figure out how to stand next to an actual girl without uncorking a medium-sized waterfall of flop-sweat from your forehead. One day, it’s just, “Ninjas don’t really exist anymore,” and the knowledge just sort of lays there, cold and lumpy, waiting for you to do something with it. It’s sort of like the Santa Claus, only like a million times worse. Because you realize that somewhere, ninjas are probably trying to make a comeback, trying to mount some sort of renaissance, but there’s just no place in the world for them anymore. I have a picture in my head of a bunch of them in full battle regalia sitting in the dive bar in Buffett’s “A Pirate Looks At 40,” rusting swords and dull daggers lying under their barstools, which you can’t see, but trust me, is completely hilarious.
This is the backstory I have given, in my head, to two women in Richland Township, Pa., who very recently robbed while dressed in full ninja regalia and wielding a samurai sword — not that they were petty criminals who knocked over a Kwik-E-Mart for smokes money, but that they were purveyors of a dream, a long-lost mystical race that, I don’t know, really must have needed a Slim Jim and a Diet Coke right then or something (you try telling a ninja she can’t have a Slim Jim, and I’ll bet you find yourself eating sword, pronto).
Police say the two women tied up the clerk about 3 a.m. and robbed the joint of money, cigarettes and lottery tickets. Lottery tickets! Can you imagine being a ninja AND winning the lottery at the same time? In my world, that is one amazing thematic union, sort of like being, say, Bruce Springsteen, but also a pirate.
Still, police assure us that the ninja attack was no laughing matter. “They were all covered in black and carrying swords, so it did appear that they were dressed like ninjas,” said Chief Robert Amman of the Northern Regional Police Department. “Swords, daggers could be used to seriously harm victims, so this is a very serious crime.”
Seriously, that sounds serious, and between these women and those contemporary pirate-thieves that occasionally materialize off the coast of Africa, it’s going to be a busy week for G.I. Joe. But as long as no one actually gets hurt and none of the subsequent stories include the words “teenage” or “mutant,” I fully welcome the return of the ninja to suburban society, and if any are reading, I would really love it if you could teach me how to make a paper throwing star.