(Note: This column was published in 2003 and will serve as a reminder in these terrifying times to always be prepared)

It was the last roll of duct tape on the shelf and, as I later told police, I really did see it first, no matter what that elderly woman pushing a walker said. That liar.

It’s not my fault that I was stronger than her and I swear that the floor was wet and that’s why she fell.

And, no, I didn’t kick her when she was down. I just waved the roll of duct tape over her prone body and went “Nah, nah, nah-nah nah, phphptpht!’’

Then I ran to the check-out line with my duct tape.

No, I wasn’t doing my part to secure my homeland. I just needed duct tape.

No way would I consider duct-taping my home. I’ve seen those that have. They’re stuck outside because they can’t get back into their houses. Hard to believe duct tape can be so strong. Then again, the government did say it would protect us in the case of a massive nuclear event.

I saw the ads.

“Radioactivity coursing through your neighborhood? No problem! A little duct tape around the windows and you’ll be fine.’’

“HEY! Americans! Teams of towel-headed terrorists at your door with Uzi’s and pipe bombs? Repel them with just a little duct tape and plastic sheeting! Now available at marked-up prices at your local hardware store.’’

“Jumbo jets nose-diving your office building? One word: Duct tape. Well, actually it’s two words. Buy yours now!’’

Yup. Nearly 18 months after terrorists first struck we’re now getting this fever-pitched message from the government.

I’m not sure I believe any of it, nor do I believe stores are selling out of duct tape and plastic sheeting. I think it’s a media-driven idea that is getting way out of hand. We interview one nutbag who actually did cover his entire house in plastic and all-a-sudden it’s a “Panic’’ and “mad-dash to Home Depot.’’

I have duct tape. I’ve always had duct tape and I don’t think you’ll find many homes in America without it, increased terror level or not.

I also have plastic sheeting left over from the trailer park days, when everyone in the park put up plastic in the winter.

It’s just what we trailer people did, regardless of whether it was needed. Many of us also forgot to take it down until mid-July.

We also put our junk cars on blocks, left all the doors open in the summer, hung fly tape from the ceiling and our lawns, the size of postage stamps, were littered with empty beer cans.

It was a wonderful time and who would have known that had we been attacked, we would have been safe and sound in our little plastic-wrapped home on wheels.

Anyway, now that I have a real house and a real family, the government is telling me how to prepare for “an event.’’

I really didn’t duct-tape my house. Nor did I knock down an old woman at the store. And I didn’t buy any more duct tape or plastic, nor did I create a “kit’’ of supplies.

The way I figure it, if I can’t protect my family with my 12-gauges and other handy weapons, then there’s nothing else to do. It’s a John Wayne macho thing.

I don’t want to fight what I can’t see and if I can’t blast the headgear off a terrorist and take a little skull with it, then I give up.

Duct tape didn’t help those 3,000 people on Sept. 11. Duct tape didn’t help those countless hundreds blown to smithereens in Israel.

And duct tape isn’t going to help us, should, heavens forbid, we get attacked again.

It wasn’t duct tape and plastic sheeting that saved hundreds from that ugly shoe-bomber on the plane. It was a wary eye and brute force.

More power to you if you think duct tape will help. As for me, well, if I run out of ammo any time soon, I will not think twice about using my own brute force to knock an elderly woman out of the way for the last box of shells. It’s the American way.

Scott DeSmit is a general assignment reporter for The Daily News. He can be reached at desmitmail@yahoo.com.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1