Dear Jeremy, Justin, and Nat,

Hey guys. I have a rival. Bye!

— Liz M.

Justin: That’s funny. You wouldn’t believe the sheer volume of mail we received in the last week from various parties complaining about their rivalries.

Nat: Rivalry. The word itself is full of history, mystery and delight. In order to better understand this importantly delightful concept, here is an excerpt from the fourth grade paper of our friend little Eric Rheingold, whom I like to call “Delight.”

Eric: Jimmy threw a rock at me. I threw one back. Teacher Jan says I was wrong. But was I, Teacher? Teacher Jan knew not that we were rivals, and that rock throwing was ancillary to said rivalry — ipso facto, irrespective of negligible causticity. While rocks are painful, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes cocoa. This concludes my book report on “The Polar Express.”

Nat: While Eric may have been hit in the head with one too many rocks to give us an accurate, or indeed useful, history of anything, Jeremy has some insight into the fascinating subject of rivalries.

Jeremy: In the late Baroque period, needles of ill-repute wove novels of a questionable moral center. Inappropriate jokes of a raunchy, but not delightful, nature offended the hoi polloi of Europe, and pleased only one man: Ludwig van Beethoven, who was deaf and assumed he was being read the daily news. Ribaldry exists today in a far different form, but still manages to hold true to its ribaldrous roots.

Justin: It’s rivalry. Not ribaldry. That’s next week’s topic. BE THAT AS IT MAY, Jeremy may have been hit in the head with one too many rocks to give us an accurate, or indeed useful, history of anything. Except ribaldry. Which is next week’s topic. But this isn’t next week. This is this week. Not next week. So you’ll have to wait until next week. Wait about a week. Rivalry rivalry rivalry rivalry rivalry.

Nat: Now that we’ve got a good working knowledge of what rivalry is, where it comes from, and its many delightful facets, let’s move. Hey Justin, didn’t you say we got a bunch of mail?

Justin: Here’s one I got.

Relish: I am fed up. What does that yellow French bastard have that I don’t? And he even gets his buddy, Ketchup, to taunt me from across the napkin holder, giving me dirty looks, making me cry. I don’t need the pity of the salt and pepper shakers. I ask you this — name one other condiment that is both sweet and sour and that you can sprinkle gently on your food. Huh? Can’t do it. Those fools don’t even have texture. I’m good, right? I mean, some people like me. It’s just that I’m not people’s number one choice anymore. When was the last time you heard someone say, ‘Wait, before we go into the movie I HAVE to put some relish on this.’ Never. I am so alone.

Jeremy: Mr. Relish, fear not. You’re not alone. I’m just like you. Only I’m not eaten; I’m a human whom everyone loves. I am preferred over all others. I am everyone’s number one choice. Yes! I don’t like sour things, only sweet things.

Justin: But relish is sweet and sour.

Jeremy: Relish? Oh, then screw relish. And in the words of esteemed singer-songwriter Aaron Neville, “I don’t know much, but I know I love you.” Except I don’t love you, Relish. You suck. Die.

Justin: Speaking of death, I have here a letter from the late Tim Allen.

Jeremy: Tim Allen’s not dead.

Nat: But his career is! Zing!

Jeremy: That’s not funny — he’s dying!

Nat: You mean, his CAREER is! Zing!

Tim Allen: I used to be Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor, but now I’m just Tim “the Tool.” Few people know that I was married to Brett Butler, whose stage name was Cybil Shepherd or that I built the set for “Legends of the Hidden Temple.” BE THAT AS IT MAY, and it’s not, I have rivals. They used to be the likes of Bob Vila, but now they’re the likes of the Vob Bila, the syphilitic hobo who built my patio.

Nat: Wow, he used to be somebody. JOE Somebody. Zing! (Nat high fives himself)

Jeremy: I’ve heard through the grapevine that Tim Allen punches babies.

Justin: Jeremy, I don’t mean to break character, but we could get sued for libel here.

Jeremy: I don’t think that’ll work. He’s not much of a public figure anymore.

Justin: Libel libel bible libel rival libel rivalry library libelry liberries libel.

Jeremy: Soy, eres, es, somos, sois, son.

Nat: No more. The devil can quote scripture to suit his purpose. Justin has one more letter from a surprise famous guest!

Earth, Wind & Fire: Justin, Jeremy, and Nat, we’ve recently realized that we do not hold control over the elements of earth, wind and fire. Only three people do: the corresponding Captain Planet’s Planeteers, our arch-rivals. We will pay you a thousand dollars to collect their power rings. How dare they steal our thunder? We had the elements-of-the-ancient-world-themed act cornered and then these 10-year-old punks stole our reputation. Now we seek bloody vengeance and ultimate power. Please bring the three power rings wrapped in unmarked bills to a place of your choosing. Bye!

Nat: So in conclusion, rivalries are like the fast-paced world of Formula One auto racing: they move at unsafe speeds around tracks as old as time, with only one man riding the razor’s edge between death and awesomeness. That man is Jesus Christ.

Justin and Jeremy: Go Yale!

Jeremy, Justin and Nat have fun. Bye! BE THAT AS IT MAY, send a letter to