April 16, 2024

Dueling . . . by Joseph G. Evrard, Staff Kentuckian


“I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth and be faithful and true to the Commonwealth of Kentucky so long as I continue a citizen thereof, and that I will faithfully execute, to the best of my ability, the office of Election Official according to law; and I do further solemnly swear that since the adoption of the recent Constitution, I, being a citizen of this state, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as a second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God.”

With these words I recently took my oath to serve well and faithfully as an election official. Unfortunately, at the same time, a lifelong dream was shattered.

Just as every little girl sits glassy-eyed staring off into space dreaming of her chance to be a true princess on her wedding day, so does every young boy lie back in the grass watching the clouds roll by, dream of the day his big duel with deadly weapons. Now, with a few words in a pledge written for another time, my dream of fighting my own duel was gone forever.

It’s not easy planning a duel. The process is long and complicated. Every last aspect of the occasion must be planned with great care and with a careful eye to detail. It’s best to start planning for your duel months in advance and to set up a timetable so you can keep on track. If you really want to do the job right get a copy of Martha Stewart’s new book, Planning the Perfect Duel, which is available at most bookstores and, of course, at Amazon.

First, and foremost, the question is WHO you want to duel. This is a complicated issue with no easy answer. The tried and true advice is still the best – always follow your heart and, remember, there’s someone for everyone. At times it seems like Mr. Right is never going to come along but, sooner or later, when you least expect it, you’ll realize you’ve found the perfect person. It’s hard for two people to disagree on everything, but when you meet someone who disagrees with you on all the really important issues, you’ve probably made a good choice.

The next thing that has to be done is to decide on a date for the duel. Be sure to allow plenty of time to plan everything. Do you want to have your duel outdoors? What about the weather? How about hiring a hall? Will they have any objections to pistols being fired off or swords flashing through the air? Check local regulations and be sure to get all the particulars in writing.

Probably the most important choice will be your choice of weapons. This question allows you and your adversary nearly unlimited opportunity for discussion and disagreement. Pistols are always in fashion and are very efficient, but they can be awfully noisy, especially indoors.
Swords or daggers are another popular choice, but his method of dispatching an opponent can be messy. It’s fun to consider some unconventional deadly weapons, too – dropping large heavy objects on each other is a nice challenge. I understand Acme anvils are quite effective.
Perhaps you’d like to try something really unique like trying to poison each other with mushrooms or suffocating each other with dry cleaner bags. Or, you can always look through your inventory of old Halloween costumes. Maybe you can scare your opponent to death.
How about boring him to death by reading…Let’s not go there. Whatever you choose, remember, it’s poor etiquette to choose weapons of mass destruction such as chemical, biological or nuclear or shouting loudly.

Decorating the recreation hall is of the utmost importance and needs special attention. First, and foremost, you need a THEME! This is usually driven by the weapons you choose. For a duel with swords, all kinds of cutlery can be pressed into service, from a wreath made of paring knives to a display of ancient battle axes, to giving away Swiss army knives as party favors.

Don’t forget to have a generous supply of those cute little plastic swords so people can spear their hors d’oeuvres. Floral arrangements can be fashioned from deadly nightshade, Spanish bayonet (better known as yucca), devil wort, hackberry, and Venus flytrap. Let your imagination soar. Remember, this is YOUR big day.

I could go on and on. I haven’t even mentioned music or food, or special entertainment for the kids or that all-important topic – what to wear. But I’m sure you get the idea. Planning is the key to a successful duel and if you do it carefully and well, you’ll fashion a duel you and your whole family would be proud of for generations to come. Just watch out for the unexpected “Oath of Office.”

See Ya Around,


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