Gentlemen, choose your sausages

I suggest a duel.

It’s really the only way out, as far as I can see.

On the one hand, you have Scott Finlay, living on Bowdoin Road, on the northeastern knob of Great Neck, in Ipswich. Walk out his back door, 200 feet or so, and you’re in the Atlantic Ocean.

On the other hand, you have Gary Champion, living some miles inland, on Palamino Way, south of Lakemans, west of Fellows— which is to say, in Ipswich terms, “horse country.”

Both guys, obviously, are struggling with the classic problems of the poverty-stricken. Thank heaven we have Dinner Bell meals available every week for needy folks like Scott and Gary.

No, forgive me, I jest.

There’s something more significant than the need for water, food, shelter, etc. at stake here, in the very public conflict between Mr. Finlay and Mr. Champion.

This isn’t about whether people have enough to eat, or whether someone can get a vaccination in order to avoid the agony of death by Covid.

This is more.

As far as I can tell — and I admit, to read the crosshatching letters to the editor can be dizzying, so I might not have this entirely right — these two guys are desperately struggling up out of the quagmire of their poverty to win docking rights at the Ipswich wharf.

Or how much these rights cost you.

Or how you get the rights.

Or something like that. Right?

Maybe I’m wrong. I’ve never owned a yacht. I’ve never been on a yacht, to my knowledge. Maybe I had one too many martinis, and someone lured me onto a yacht, without my knowledge. And now I’m writing a column ignorantly. Well, it probably won’t be the first time.

But to return to the matter of Mr. Finlay and Mr. Champion — What’s it really all about?

(Reading all the letters to the editor — Sorry, but it’s exhausting. I really can’t do it. I need to conserve my time and energy for the next season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.)

Submitting letters to the editor, and waiting to see them in print, and then holding your breath while you wait to get your friends’ feedback — it all takes so long.

A duel is so efficient, by comparison.

You can see why Hamilton and Burr were just like, Please, let’s get it over with.

On March 10th, Mr. Champion said, in print: “I challenge Mr. Finlay to defend his accusations against me in a public setting.”

In July of 1804, no question: This would have been (a) choosing a location, (b) choosing your “seconds” to stand by while you shoot at each other, (c) choosing pistols, (d) taking 10 paces — and then, presto: (e) you turn and pull the trigger.


Now — seriously — Mr. Champion, Mr. Finlay — citizens of Ipswich, Massachusetts — civilized people everywhere …

After endless board meetings, committee meetings, commission meetings, where everything requires endless conversation, negotiation, testimony…

Isn’t this what you really want?

Let’s have a duel. It’s the New England way.

No? Consider this:

In the 1860s, Otto von Bismarck challenged someone named Virchow to a duel. Virchow was entitled under the rules of the day to choose the weapons.

Virchow chose two pork sausages, one infected with roundworm.

The two would each choose and eat a sausage.

Bismarck declined.

So today, I wonder: Who will stand down, and be the wiser? Who will stand firm, and be the fool?

Champion? Finlay?

I imagine, my great-grandchildren will sit in their history class, on the bare ground, under the dead tree, and their teacher will say,

“When I was a child, we called it the Finlay-Champion War.

But of course, historians remember it as World War Three.

Which is, as you know, when civilization ended.

So yes, it really was that important.”

A duel. Yes. What could settle this question, more completely?


Doug Brendel lives on outer Linebrook Road. He’s shuddering in the shadows, where important things may still matter. If you can, visit, and communicate. Hello! Hello!

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