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D.A.R.E. Shiv: The First Knife I Ever Really Thought About
Plastic, 2018

We were in the auditorium, which was sometimes an auxiliary gym and lunchtimes when the tables folded out of the walls and it became the cafeteria. At the time, I found it strange to be there with the police and the weapons they brought to us. Those were the first years of the D.A.R.E. and maybe they were pilot testing programming that day. We sat on the floor. When the police finished their speech or lecture or whatever it was, we got to look at the objects on the table. On a prior visit they brought confiscated drugs and paraphernalia and lit a marijuana-smelling substance so we knew what it smelled like. This time they talked to us about jail. Weapons and jail. On the tables were trifold stands with confiscated and clandestinely hand-made weapons introduced to us as "shivs." It wasn't until later that I considered the history of those things, that they had likely once been stabbed and smuggled inside bodies before becoming a presentation for fourth grade suburban children.

Then it happened. One of the officers showed us a knife made from a toothbrush. He told us how it was made, step-by-step. It was a recipe. He told us everything we needed to know. I learned that the key was to wrap the plastic really tightly. I learned that all you needed was a toothbrush, plastic wrap, a rough cement floor, and a lighter. I learned that it was all I needed. That knife was with me all these years. I have made it and remade it in my thoughts. Here it is, after these many decade, the knife of my dreams, the knife that started it all.









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