Thursday, November 07, 2002

Chivalry's Not Dead... Yet

Centuries ago, a gentleman could challenge another for a duel by slapping his gloves to the other's cheek. While the other person would stand still and receive the blow.

Now why would they agree to that? Couldn't they just take each other by words? Does it mean that if you don't slap, then the challenge's not valid?

"I hate thy nose, Baron Flinglegged," I'd say at a banquet, while taking off my gloves. "Therefore I challenge thou for a markmanship contest to the death!"

"I accept," he'd nod to his butler. "Alfred, bring me my trusted Mankiller."

Then I'd put the gloves back on. "But I'm just kidding. Let's continue the party!" And we'd just do.

And what if someone challenged me, swung his gloves, but then missed, because naturally I would dodge? He'd stand for a while, feeling pretty dumb before getting angrier, "I said I challenge thou, goddammit!"

"But thou missed, oh kind Sir. Tradition states that thou must hit me in the cheeks."

He'd take another swing, and missed again. "Why, you...," he'd say, forgetting his archaic English. "I'm gonna kill you for that!"

"Thou will have to slap me first," said I, still running.

Henceforth the game of tag. Only we stopped killing each other after each tag, so we could play longer.

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