I attend a weekly fencing practice about 16 miles from my home. As a public transportation user, I thus have to lug my 40-inch duffel bag with me to work and school. I am really tired of answering inane questions about said bag, the implications about my femininity, etc., so I've tried to consolidate the answers into one simple list. Later, I intend to print several dozen copies and distribute them to all parties who can't formulate intelligent questions (even "What have you got in that bag?" would do nicely), because I work two jobs and attend classes part-time, and I really don't have time to stand around explaining why I'm not going to stab you if you're rude to me. If you still have questions after reading these seven answers, don't worry, I will have long since continued on my way and you won't need to worry about it anymore.
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1. Yes, I really spend some of my spare time stabbing my friends each week. If you find that weird and dangerous, consider how weird it is that some people spend hours and hours on something like golf and find it relaxing, enjoyable, or challenging, while others find it mind-numbingly dull. Not weird at all. Comparatively speaking, hockey is far more dangerous than my sport.
2. Yes, that means I've got a sword in there.
3. No, I really don't want to show it to you. Why do you think it's in a bag? So I don't scare people like you. I also like to avoid arguments with campus police, since protracted arguments tend to hinder my attempts to get to work or class on time.
4. No, even if you piss me off, I am not going to stab you. You're pissing me off just by asking if I'm going to stab you. First of all, the practice blade I'm carrying is about as sharp as a 9-iron and weighs about 2 pounds. Unless I had a forklift at my disposal and chose to duct tape the sword on so that it stuck out beyond the tines on the front, and ran into you with it at a high speed without the protective rubber tip on, I highly doubt I could break your skin with it. Secondly, if I wanted a free trip to jail, why the hell would I do it by making my sport look bad, getting thrown out of college, losing my jobs, and bringing tons of negative media attention to the relatively unknown organization that sponsors my local fencing practice? Not to mention being permanently banned from said organization. Not to mention losing public transportation privileges or my self-respect.
5. No, this is not a musical instrument. Thank you, sir, for asking a relatively intelligent question. You will not be getting a flyer.
6. To the guy who came around a corner this spring at school when I was carrying a PVC cane and a shield and assumed a faux ninja pose in the middle of the hallway while frowning unreadably at me and shifting back and forth so I couldn't walk around you, then said, by way of explanation "I thought you were going to attack me" - WTF?? The same goes for the PoliSci professor who asked me if I was gearing up for a riot (in Grand Rapids?) and the guy at the bus station who asked if I had cookies under my shield, which was lying on the pavement with just over 1/8 inch clearance. I'm so glad that I finally have a nice, anonymous bag to put that stuff in.
7. To the guy who walked through the middle of one of our fights in a public park while shouting rudely at us, and when we politely suggested that he walk around us, delivered the classic "What are you gonna do...stab me?" line, two things.
a. WTF? Would you, clad in shorts and a T-shirt, walk through the middle of a pro football game, yelling taunts at the players who are specially armored to bash into each other at running speeds? You've basically done the same thing, except this is a practice, not a tournament, and we're amateurs. God help you if you had tried the same trick at a tourney somewhere.
b. I sincerely hope the 2- or 3-year old son who accompanied you does not grow up to be a man with such a total disregard for basic social codes. I hope he isn't a man who takes the most obnoxious and inciting route possible to his car, interrupting the pastimes of other people while surrounded by hundreds of acres of public park free for the walking.