Burt Prelutsky

Sometimes, I must confess I find myself longing for what we typically call the good old days. I don’t mean the old, old days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but, say, 60 or so years ago when school infractions involved chewing gum or running in the halls, and not packing a gat in one’s lunch box.

I know that most of today’s youngsters whose bedrooms are so filled with electronic gadgets that they resemble the stockroom at the local Office Depot and whose footwear costs more than all the sneakers I wore out between the ages of six and sixteen, would be aghast if you told them it used to be a big deal for a kid to get a football or a baseball mitt for his birthday.

I wouldn’t want to be taken for one of those cranky old duffers who insist that everything was better back then. A visit to a present day dentist should be reason enough to knock that goofy notion out of anybody’s head. I can still vividly recall the terror that went with having a tooth pulled or even filled when the practice of dentistry had less in common with modern science than it did with medieval torture.

As much as I appreciate the immediacy of e-mail, there’s a part of me that misses hand-written letters with its blissful absence of LOL’s and little smiley faces made up of colons and dashes.

But of all the traditions of bygone days that I miss, I think it’s dueling I miss the most. I’m not referring to movie duels, as exciting as they were, as one dashing swashbuckler after another would dispatch Basil Rathbone, all to the stirring music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, but to the honorable practice of challenging another to a duel, complete with rules of conduct.

Let a man disparage your reputation or besmirch your loved one’s honor, and you would send your second around to the scoundrel’s door to check out his choice of weapon.

Wouldn’t you love to see how Hollywood’s loudmouth liberals would fare when deprived of their stunt men?

What wouldn’t I give to see Donald Rumsfeld taking on John Murtha with foils or boxing gloves?

How about Rush Limbaugh duking it out with Al Franken or that pile of America-bashing suet, Michael Moore?

Heck, I bet if you could arrange for Ann Coulter to have a mud-wrestling match with Hillary Clinton, you could sell enough tickets to pay off the national debt, with enough left over to pay off Ted Kennedy’s bar tab!