“Get out of my way!” Marshall Dillon took guff from no one.
“Make me,” one of the tough guys sneered.
Without as much as a blink the marshal dropped the man with a single blow. His partner went down just as easily before he could go for his gun or even could gasp in surprise.
This reminded me of a time when I was six years old and in the first grade. On the way home from school one of my classmates gave me a stick of gum. My cousin was with us and I told the classmate that he should give Terry some gum too.
“No, I’m keeping the rest for later.”
“Give my cousin some gum!”
“You had better!”
With that I punched the kid in the belly and then got my butt kicked right there in own front yard while a crowd of kids gathered around to watch. While this was going on I saw my father come out of the house. I assumed that he was going to rescue me but, instead, he sat down on the stoop and watched, also.
After my classmate got done kicking my butt the crowd dispersed and I went into the house to get my butt kicked again by my father for getting my butt kicked by my classmate. Afterward, my father gave me some lessons in fist fighting. It didn't do a lot of good though.
In another Gunsmoke episode, Festus Haggen got his butt kicked by a guy as big as Matt Dillon. Festus did his level best to talk the guy out of fighting but his adversary was determined to settle the grudge that he had with Festus. The big man pounded Festus down to semi-consciousness in no time but Festus kept getting back up until the big guy finally knocked him out.
The problem with growing up in the 20 years between 1955 and 1975 was that Matt Dillon was the all time tough guy hero that everyone watched on TV on Saturday night. If anybody gave Matt Dillon any trouble then he just kicked the crap out them like it was no effort at all for him with his 6’ 7” frame. What’s more, every show started with Matt Dillon stepping onto the street and out-gunning the bad guy.
Now put this into the context of 635 episodes over the 20 years. That made 635 bad guys that Marshall Dillon had to shoot down over 20 years and in a fair fight mind you, just to get the show started on Saturday night. That’s not counting the bad guys that he had to shoot during the show.
In addition, Marshall Dillon always kicked the living crap out of at least two or three other bad guys during the show every week. That means that Marshall Dillon shot an estimated 1500 bad guys over 20 years and kicked the living crap out of another 3000 or so. You have to believe that watching Gunsmoke seriously enhanced testosterone production to exponential levels in the average American male from 1955 through 1975.
The problem for me was that I wasn’t exactly an average American male. I was the Festus Haggen. If I couldn't talk my way out of as fight then I was going to get beat until I couldn't, or my adversary wouldn't let me, get up. It’s no wonder that after awhile, and unlike Festus, I learned that my feet were faster than my fists. There is just no good sense to taking a beating from somebody twice your size when a good pair of feet can keep you, not only out of reach, but out of sight.