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Many years ago, I had the pleasure of befriending a Japanese-Canadian boy named Shannon. His parents (a Japanese father and a Canadian mother) were divorced at the time and he was living with his mother and stepfather. Shannon was a really tall guy for somebody who had Asian blood in him (I could only hope to be as tall as him) and looked somewhat intimidating to those who didn't know him well. He also loved a good joke, as evidenced by his burgeoning collection of Saturday Night Live tapes and Weird Al Yankovic vinyls.

When we were 11, his father started appearing on television commercials for a local car dealership. It was a silly commercial which had a bunch of other dealers sitting around a table debating what to do about "that guy" (meaning Jim Keay, the guy who paid for the commercial) and his high sales. The commercial ended off with Shan's father dressed up in a karate uniform and saying in a really terrible Japanese accent "I know what I'm going to do about that guy!" while tearing through a picture of Mr. Keay with a flying leap kick.

The commercial was a hit across town and Mr. Suzuki gained some notoriety for it. He took the money and opened up a dojo which became rather successful.

One day, Shan's father showed up at his home with a trunkful of goodies that he acquired through the dojo. This included katanas, shurikens, sais, karate uniforms, nunchakus, and bo sticks. But the best of the bunch had to be the carefully folded black uniforms that were at the bottom of the pile - ninja uniforms!

Shannon had a blast with all the gear, even though his mother freaked out at the possibility of danger (after all, the legality of owning some of the weapons was questionable). He and his brother set up a room in the house as a martial arts shrine, filling the walls with all of the gear and posters.

The ninja uniforms, however, stayed in their respective closets. These were the outfits of every 11 year old kid's dreams and Shannon took every opportunity to wear the outfit in the house, much to his mother's dismay ("Is it really necessary for you to eat dinner with that outfit on?").

One day, while I was over to view the impressive shrine, Shannon looked out his kitchen window and noticed that a couple of kids were climbing the tree in his backyard. He ran inside his bedroom, put on his ninja uniform, grabbed one of the katanas in the shrine, and slung it around his back.

Ninja Shannon then ran out the back door, pointed his finger at the kids, and yelled out, "Hey! Get the hell off my tree!"

To this day, I have never seen a look of horror to match those on the kids faces when they saw a threatening ninja telling them to get off his tree. They instantly jumped off the tree and ran away screaming.

Shannon got a real thrill out of the incident and decided that he would form a team of ninjas. To that end, he helped several other schoolmates acquire uniforms, including Kevin who would turn out to be his true sidekick. Unfortunately, Kevin was of a stocky nature (okay, he was pretty damned fat) so when the two of them appeared side by side in uniform, they looked the Laurel and Hardy of the Ninja world.

Shannon and his team of ninjas went around terrorizing schoolyards and the local parks. Kids, elderly folks, cats and dogs...nobody was safe from this roaming bunch of idiots in cloth. They never actually pulled out their weapons (thank God) but simply ran through the parks...the simple sight of a bunch of ninjas was scary enough for most people and they usually bolted right away.

Shannon's father eventually got wind of his son's exploits, confiscated his son's uniform, and had him grounded for months. Without their leader and with interest in ninjas beginning to wane, the group eventually dissolved.

I don't know what Shannon's doing these days since I haven't seen nor heard from him in ages. However, I do have some annoying neighbourhood kids climbing my apple tree...my threats as a normal looking Chinese man don't seem to be very effective...so, Shannon, if you're out there, I'd really like for you to don the uniform once more and take care of this situation for me, like any good ninja would.

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