Wednesday, December 12, 2007

every single five seconds

It's been a rocky week thus far. More travels over the weekend, youth shenanigans on Sunday, shopping for Chrismukah, court appearances in downtown L.A., all culminating in the onset of illness. I do not know what new mischief set itself upon my immune system, only that it was manifest by a contest between my skull and my innards to see which could explode first.

There were many noteworthy happenings during all of this, including my appearance in front of a few middle-school English classes to extol the virtues of being a lawyer. As I understand it, the assignment in question involved researching some esteemed profession, listening to me wax eloquently about being a lawyer, and then write a compare/contrast essay on the two.

For example: An essay comparing and contrasting a lawyer with a marine biologist. Marine biologists play with dolphins and ride on boats. Lawyers have substance abuse problems. The End.

Do you know how hard it is to make the practice of business litigation sound fascinating to a 13-year old? Hey kids! Who wants to go to school for 7 years so you can sit in an office all day and get yelled at by judges? I imagine it would be very hard to do - for a mere mortal. But Hoov, Esq. is internationally known for his gesticulation and hyperbole. I daresay they were rapt.

To maintain order, the format was thus: the children would write their questions on post-its and give them to the teacher, who would then post them up on the front white board. I was then free to make an election as to which questions to answer. Of course, there were standouts:

Have you ever committed a crime?

This seems like a good time to teach you all about the 5th Amendment.

Do you drink?

I dunno - you buyin'?

What's it like being a lawyer?

Pssh - it's a lot better than being a marine biologist, I can tell you that.

If someone breaks into my locker and steals my shoes, can I sew them?

Yes! And it's called conversion of chattels. Write that down.

Will you be my lawyer?

Why? Are you planning on doing something illegal? Or perhaps you need a living trust, to prevent your lunch money from being tangled up in probate.

Can I sue the teacher?

Yes. And you should. It will get you bonus points on this project.

So, I managed to survive seven classes of this. Until... The last question of the last class of the day...

Can you do 5 clap push-ups?

...can I whuhnow? Or course, my first reaction to this question was to chuckle and abashedly demurrer to the question. Like Jimmy Stewart in a Tech Law hoodie. The children would have none of this. Within seconds the room was ablaze with middle-schoolers demanding clap push-ups - nay! howling for clap push-ups like diminutive Lears, raging against the very sky for this perceived injustice.

"Lo, you are a man of stone! We must see the push-ups! Lest everything you have said to us thus far be for naught! Should you denyeth us in this petition, then begone from us! O cowardly man-of-law."

But I am a man of self-respect. No seriously, I am. So there was no way I was going to get on the ground and do 5 clap push-ups, just to appease this passel of whelps. I am above that.

I am not, however, above doing 17. I'm struggling to find the right word to best encapsulate how the teacher felt about this exposition. Despite my loganamnosis, words like bemused and nonplussed come to mind. Also, shamefaced.

And yet, with that Feat of Strength I cemented into their young minds that lawyer kung-fu is truly the mightiest kung-fu of all. And those marine biologists can go jump in a lake.

Ha! Did you see what I did there?