Tonight begins as many of my evenings begin, by strapping into my ninja suit and rolling on a large helping of Brut deodorant. Then, I consult my ninja grandfather and he informs me of my assignment. After nightfall, I'm to be dropped off by Yellow Cab at Bottom of the Hill to watch the Junior Senior concert. Junior Senior is a two-man (one of them very gay) electronic pop-dance duo from Denmark. I know it could potentially be a flamboyant, fashion-conscious crowd, but I am prepared: My black ninja uniform enables me to blend into the shadows like a raccoon. I fill my hidden pockets with $40 in American currency to purchase Budweiser, a cell phone for calling backup ninjas, and some breath mints.
Upon entering Bottom of the Hill, I am forced to reveal my identity because a man is checking IDs. After he approves of me, I quickly put my ninja mask back on. Using my amplified senses, I feel people peering at me from all sides of the room. I ignore the uncomfortable glares and start to investigate the scene. The crowd is mainly teenage girls and guys in their early 20s. Many of them are wearing mesh trucker hats just slightly left of center, much like a crooked lotus root. Others have multicolored, low-top Nikes that appear to have cost at least four times as much as my slippers.
I try to blend in by playing pool, posing by the pinball machine, and reclining against the bar with a cold beer drink. Two young ladies attempt to converse with me, but I resist — they may be spies for a rival dojo. One young man can't stop staring at me. He knows that ninjas are not cool and is telling all of his friends about me. I have an impulse to drop him on the seat of his khaki slacks with my flying death claw, but again I resist. I make my way outside to the smoking patio. Everyone out there is nice to me. One group even lets me sit down in an extra chair. I appreciate that. I almost compliment them on how much dye they have managed to put in their hair, but I decide against it.
From the patio, my super-powerful ninja ears hear the band begin to play. I move inside for a closer look. The music is energetic, much like something that an aerobics dojo plays during an aerobics class for out-of-shape ninjas. People are dancing wildly and getting into the electronic squawking sounds coming from the stage. Immediately, I jump into my ready-stance because I fear a buzzard is attacking. Fortunately, I learn it is part of the concert, so I relax. Some adoring teenage girls standing next to me begin screaming in an attempt to express their love for the band. At this point, I decide to return to my grandfather's quiet company. I slowly head for the front door. On my way out, I drink one last Budweiser. I kindly thank the rockabilly-hair-gelled bartender and disappear into the night like a wild scorpion scurrying up a branch of a bonsai tree.
My night mission to Bottom of the Hill is a success. My senses did not fail me. When I get back to my dojo, I brief my grandfather on all of the fashionable individuals I have seen. I describe how there were many young people wearing hip, expensive clothes and how some of them were staring at me. I tell him that I think music clubs are more about showing off and trying to impress others, and less about enjoying music. I also tell him that the music of Junior Senior sounds like an injured buzzard squealing repeatedly. After a moment of quiet reflection, he assures me that, “Although seemingly superficial to us ninjas, fashion has always been tied to music. … You may not favor all styles of music, just as others may not favor my Grateful Dead albums. … This is all part of music.” I rest on my wooden cot and think for a while. Then I ask my granddad one final question: “Sir, are striped Paul Frank knee socks a part of music?” He pauses for a second and then replies, “No, those are just stupid.”