*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by my aunt who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
My aunt claimed her son was proud of her new cutlery set and wanted to show it off.
This incident took place decades ago. It was long before the inception of the zero-tolerance policy adopted by many schools.
Nearly four decades ago, my cousin brought a meat cleaver to school and hid it in his locker. He was in junior high school.
Another student alerted a teacher to the situation. The teacher searched my cousin’s locker, and he found the meat cleaver.
The school called my aunt and asked her to meet with the principal immediately. When she arrived at the school, they ushered her into the principal’s office where her son and her meat cleaver were waiting.
The principal explained that a teacher had found a weapon in my cousin’s locker. He told my aunt that it was a serious offense.
My aunt took her son’s side. She claimed he had only brought the meat cleaver to school because the family had new cutlery, and they were proud of it.
“He just wanted to show it off,” she insisted.
The principal was dubious. How often do schoolchildren brag about their mother’s new cutlery to their peers? However, my aunt was firm in her explanation. She refused to back down.
In the end, no one got hurt. No one got disciplined, either.
No one from the school suggested calling the police. There were no news reports about the boy who brought his mother’s meat cleaver to school.
The principal returned the meat cleaver to my aunt, who dutifully promised to keep it in a safe place where it wouldn’t end up back at school.
My cousin returned to class, no worse for the experience. If it upset him at being caught with a meat cleaver, I never knew of it.
Since this happened in the 1980s, there was no Internet. It would be decades before anyone had the opportunity to tweet about it or post it on Facebook. By then, most people had forgotten all about it. Not me. I never forgot about it.
Things could have been much worse. No one knows whether my cousin had plans for that meat cleaver, although it seems unlikely he planned to show it off and then slip it back into the butcher block at home.
Fortunately, he did nothing like that again. So it would appear he learned something from the experience.
I can still remember my aunt sitting at the kitchen table with my mother as she told the story. She was indignant not at her son, who took a meat cleaver to school, but at the principal of the school for complaining about it.
I don’t think my aunt learned anything from the experience. She never admitted there may have been something behind her son’s actions other than pride over the family’s new cutlery. I was too young to ask her why he didn’t bring a fork or a spoon to school, but I doubt she would have answered me.