Things My Guests Should Know: The Rules of Fisticuffs (1885)

Disputes between my guests, of any nature, must be settled through the Gentlemanly and Proper Art of Fisticuffs.

1. An argument begins o'er the day's political rhetoric, or mayhap the sullying of a lady's name.

2. The wronged party must rise to his feet, approach his tormentor, and strike a glancing blow across the left cheek. Minor grievances merit nothing more than a silk glove; a substantial grievances, such as those over grammar, must begin with a strike from the abridged Oxford English Dictionary. The blow being delivered, the striking gentleman must twirl his moustache at least once, then loudly present the Declaration of Sullyance for all in attendance to hear: "Sir, you wound me, and such sullyance must be answered through a significant restructuring of your orbital ridge by the righteous and divinely guided masons that the common man would deign to call my fists," etc. etc.

3. Both gentlemen must, in respect of their host, finish their beverages in no more than one swallow; within one minute they must strip to the waist, though suspenders may be raised in such a way as to prevent the indecent sagging of the pantaloons. Assembled guests should assist in the removal of any furniture as needed to prepare a room for battle. Both men must assume the ready position: fists cocked, with the dominant fist and foot forward; the toes of the leading feet must be precisely at a distance equal to the span from the nose to the navel of the land's regent, emperor or viceroy.

4. Fists must be waggled as each man stares into the eyes of his foe, divining the temperament of his soul.

5. The offending party must initiate the battle with a verbal prompt: "Have at Thee!" "Odd Bob's Hammer and Tongs!" or "I Beg That When You See Lucifer You Extend My Thanks, Via Him, to His Mother, for Having Calved His Sister, Whom I Have Enjoyed Ravaging On Many Occasions, That is to Say, When I Was not Otherwise Occupied Gaining the Carnal Knowledge of Your Closest Lady Kinfolk and Wife, All of Whom Found the Experience to be Delightful Even Though I Myself Have Enjoyed Much Better," etc. etc.

6. The parties rain furious vengeance upon each other, observing the following rules: no striking below the waist; no striking of a downed opponent; no pulling or manipulation of an opponent's moustache; no bleeding on any surface the host may deem of excellent value.

7. Points shall be awarded as follows: one for a well-struck jab; three for a sidewinding cross; five for the crunching impact of the Queen's Uppercut; seven for the Queen's Uppercut with a full windup; three for a blow to the solar plexus or any other area in the abdomen such that a man thus struck might appear to have been informed of a sizable growth within his visceral tract. Two points for the jarring loose of a man's tooth; four points for a blow causing significant cosmetic facial damage, such that a passerby might laugh or be tempted to throw loose bits of masonry at the hideous visage. The first combatant to reach 500 points is the undisputed winner; though after an opponent has amassed 480 points a fighter may withdraw with no loss of honor.

8. The victor is, in the eyes of Providence and Justice, indisputably in the right; the defeated party must prepare and deliver, within in no more than two days, a letter to the editor of the most widely-read local publication admitting the facts of the dispute and conceding the error of their ways. Gentlemen who defeat opponents by a margin of more than 150 points are entitled to trim two inches from the moustache of their foe; by a margin of more than 200 points they may have their way with any female in attendance.

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Copyright 2013, Chris White