Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Duel You Love Me?

It's that magical day we've all been waiting for...

Drum roll, please.

My 39th birthday!

Yeah, I know what you're thinking:

"Joe's 39 years-old and still writes like crap!" and

"Where should I send the gift?"

Well, you're right on the first point.

As for the gifts, none are required. Just having you here with me today is enough.


**chokes back tears**

Those of you with a low nausea tolerance might want to skip ahead to the dotted line that idicates the beginning of today's regular blog post.

I'll give you a minute to scroll down....

For the rest of you, let's briefly recap the status of my life as it stands today:

1. Single, likely as a function of the following 'un's' that define me:



2. Work in middle management at a mid-sized law firm in midtown Manhattan

It's like my father always told me "Wherever life takes you, son, try your best to wind up in the middle of the pack."

3. Spending way too much time thinking about a woman who probably never thinks about me but who is:

The most beautiful, special, interesting, and completely wonderful woman I've ever known
The architect of my most cherished memories
The person who taught me that work wasn't important; but that life is

The one I considered my "other half"
The woman who I would gladly have grown old with, trying to make all of her dreams come true because, by being with me, she had already made all of mine come true.

4. With no children of my own, but hopelessly in love with my five nieces and my nephew.

5. And so boring that I can't even think of a 5th item...

Yep, it's a wonder I can even pull myself out of bed every morning to slog through another day of blogging...erm, I mean work. If it weren't for IM and my internet crush, the lovely, talented, and happily married High Desert Diva, I'd never get through the day.

Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's move on to today's story, the ultra-creatively titled: "Duel You Love Me?"

They met on the field at sunrise.

"Mr. Perkins"

"Major Hamilton"

"Of course you know why we're here today. "

"Humor me."

"Very well. You've pursued a woman that I have clearly expressed my intentions towards. By doing so, you've insulted my honor and leave me no choice but to demand satisfaction."

Using exposition as dialogue - the last refuge of the talentless writer, thought the teacher idly as he waited for the Major to finish.

"You shall have your duel, Major, but I daresay that satisfaction will be mine." replied the teacher with a great deal more bravado than he felt.

"I'm a Major in the United States Calvary and you're a school teacher. I hardly envy your odds."
As if out of thin air, the Major's second appeared carrying a case containing a pair of dueling pistols.

As was standard in duels of honor, the referee checked and prepared the pistols. The pistols were also checked by the duellists and their seconds. When all were satisfied that everything was in order, the referee turned to the teacher and asked him to choose a weapon.

"I'll take the guns!" exclaimed Perkins, with a newfound optimism borne of the confidence that even he couldn't lose a duel against a weaponless opponent.

His second leaned in and whispered something in his ear.

"Erm, I was supposed to choose one of the pistols, wasn't I?"

The referee nodded solemnly and the teacher selected his weapon.

When both men had their pistols in hand, he reminded them of the rules.

"You'll stand back to back. At my signal you'll walk ten paces, and turn to face each other. I'll say 'Take aim' at which point you will, obviously, take aim. Then I'll say 'Fire!' and you will discharge your weapon."

"He said discharge your weapon..." muttered the Major, causing both men to break into a fit of giggles at the double entendre. The referee waited for them to regain their composure and, when they had, he signaled them to begin pacing.

They had taken only two steps when the Major cried out "Wait!"

He turned around to face the teacher.

"I'm a fair man, so if you'd like, you can take five paces rather than ten."


They were standing back to back again when it occurred to the Major that his suggestion had a rather significant flaw.

"Erm, you know it's dishonorable to shoot me in the back, right?" he said.

"What's the point, then?" replied the crestfallen teacher. "We'll just wind up closer together and it'll be easier for you to shoot me."

"Um, I didn't think of that."

"Well, what if we take ten paces and you shoot left-handed?"

"I am left-handed"

"Well then right-handed."

"That's crazy talk, Perkins."

They went back and forth in this manner for a few minutes before they retiring to the shade of a nearby tree where they shared a delicious brunch while their attorneys continued the negotiations.

Three hours and a few thousand dollars in fees later, the attorneys finally hammered out a compromise. They drafted their agreement and presented the new rules to the referee who, in turn, read them to the men.

"You'll stand back to back. At my signal you'll walk ten paces, and turn to face each other. I'll say 'Take aim' at which point you will, obviously, take aim. Then I'll say 'Fire!' and you will discharge your weapon."

Satisfied with what they believed was a fair and just resolution, both men took their positions anew and began to pace forward at the referee's signal only to stop when they noticed a woman hurrying in their direction.

"Wait!" she cried.

The referee threw up his hands in frustration. For the tenth time that morning, he considered burning his degree from the prestigious "Dueling Referee's University"and joining his father's fledgling bottled-water business.

"Please call off this foolish duel." she pleaded. "Love is far more important than honor, and the truth is that I only love one of you."

"And" she continued "if the man I don't love harms the man I love, I shall never forgive him."

Both men looked at her, perplexed.

"I mean, I'll never forgive the one I don't love for hurting the one I do love." she clarified.

"But Mary, why all the mystery?" said the Major. "Simply tell this man that I'm the one you love and we'll ride off into the sunset together and live a life of joy in which we eat baked ham every night and rise each morning with words of love on our lips..but only after we brush our teeth because, well, frankly, your morning breath is brutal."

The teacher stepped forward.

"He's a fool. Tell him that I'm the one you love. Tell him that you want to stay here with me and help educate the town's children. We'll raise a family and we'll have summers off so we can vacation wherever you'd like. Uh, except for the fact that we'll be pretty poor and won't be able to afford to go anywhere."

Like a trained actress, she allowed the tension to build, milking the drama for all it was worth.

"The man I love, the one I choose to spend my life with is..."

Unfortunately, the three of them were so engrossed in the moment that they failed to notice the angry hog that had broken through the bushes and was, at that very moment, charging across the field towards them.1

It was upon them in a matter of seconds, lightly mauling both men and before turning to Mary and ending her life.2

The dazed men stood up, dusted themselves off, and watched the hog gallop away. When they were confident it was gone for good, they looked down upon Mary's corpse.3

"Erm...shall we continue?" said the Major, gesturing weakly with his pistol.

"There hardly seems much of a point now." replied the teacher.

They began to chuckle.

"What fools we've been. Fighting to the death over a woman!" said the Major.

"Yes, it all seems rather silly now, doesn't it?" asked the teacher.

"Let's go to the tavern, have a few drinks, and put this whole sordid business behind us" suggested the Major.

"That sounds good. I was headed there anyway. There's a new barmaid there that I've had my eye on"

"I saw her first..."

1 From their vantage point, the referee and the lawyers saw the entire scene unfolding but they did nothing to stop it. The referee didn't act because he'd already been paid and it made no difference to him how the men died. The attorneys were prepared to shout a warning when they saw the bloodthirsty look in the hog's eyes, recognized him as one of their own, and allowed him to proceed as a matter of professional courtesy.

More people die from the common bee sting and more farmers are maimed by camels, hogs and steers than from shark attacks every year.

3 It later discovered that the hog killed Mary because she had brutally murdered his entire family in what he called "The Christmas Feast Massacre."