Friday, December 29, 2006

Getting Paid to Watch Jerry Springer

A few weeks ago I had a hearing in a small town and arrived about twenty minutes early. I sat down on a pew in the back of the courtroom to finish reviewing my notes and wait, and this is what I heard.

“Sir, isn’t it true that you offered a young black woman money in exchange for sexual services?” asked a man who was evidently the wife’s, and soon to be ex-wife’s, attorney. The man on the stand was a white man dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt who appeared to be about 45 years old.

The man responded with “I plead the 5th.” How do these judges keep a straight face? This stuff is hilarious. The partner I was with kept looking at me and making wide eyes and snickering.

“Did you offer a teenage bank employee money to spend some time alone with you?”

“I plead the 5th.”

And so on. Guess who the next witness is? Yep, the 19 year old black female who he followed after she got off from work. He pulled up beside her, blocking traffic, and told her he needed to talk to her. She assumed it was related to work, but instead he told her that he found her sexy and said he could help her make a lot more money than she did at the bank if she’d spend some time alone with him. And yes, he did all of this while married.

During the examination of the wife, we learned that despite their seemingly dire financial situation which on occasion has “necessitated” check kiting, they had managed to pay for her $11,000 face lift, a trip to Vegas, and of course, a Mustang. The judge reprimanded them for this financial foolishness, by the way.

“Did you deny your husband sex on your anniversary?” the attorney asked. What? Is this really relevant?

“I’ve never said no to sex.” Oh no, she didn’t just say that. I am, of course, about to laugh like a ten year old, covering my face with my file folder.

“In fact the only time we didn’t have sex that he wanted to was when he couldn’t perform. And that happened at least 5 or 6 times,” she responded in all seriousness.

The wife went on to detail their sex life, her attempts at spicing it up, and so forth. Needless to say it was amusing to me, an outsider, but it was yet another reminder of why I never want to get a divorce. All of that stuff being public heaped on top of anguish and disappointment. And while it was amusing in a sad kind of way—the same kind of way I feel when I catch a second of Maury or Jerry—it made me think that all of our lives might look a little ridiculous if they were put on display and we were cross-examined by an attorney endeavoring to make us look bad, particularly when it comes to our decisions in romantic relationships.

It’s amazing how we can justify our decisions and rationalize our behavior at the time, and who is really normal anyway? Families who have seemed so “together” have almost always, upon closer examination, been flawed and marked by their own problems. Whether it’s living on the edge of financial solvency as to keep up appearances or other skeletons in the closet, we are all struggling in some way. So while certain behavior seems ridiculous to me, I need to remember that a lot of what I do is awful foolish too. For example, one of my resolutions from last year was to never throw up as a result of drinking alcohol again. The last time it happened I never even made it into the first bar we went to and was absolutely miserable. Given that I was 27 at the time I made the resolution and don't even drink that often, that might seem retarded, but I'm glad to report that I've kept it. And given my spotty tolerance and a variety of bartenders (one night I could barely sit up in the hot tub after a martini; another time I had three and didn't feel anything), I've had to watch myself. Anyone else have/have had a "ridiculous" resolution?


Aaron said...

I've developed the opinion that I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. Perhaps resolutions in general, but not New Year's. If it's so important that you feel you need a resolution, why would you wait until the new year to observe it. No time like the present.

I know people who make resolutions to adhere to something in the new year but continue to do whatever it is until that point in time. Yeah, I really see them following through with that one...

Ally said...

I don't see anything wrong with choosing the starting of a new year as a time to resolve to do/not do something, but like you, I'm a fan of resolutions in general throughout the year and don't need a holiday to come up with something I want to change/improve upon, etc. My "no throwing up" resolution was made in July of last year, I think. So no silly resolutions Aaron?

Accidentally Me said...

Oh my god, I love that story. I wish you had a video camera. "Your honor, I had to steal to feed my family. Once I had spent the money, I couldn't let my kids starve!"

And there is no such thing as a "normal" family. There are good and bad ones, but none of them are normal. The relationships are way too complicated to be normal.

I think New Year's is a good time to take stock and make some changes that get lost in the shuffle other times.

Aaron said...

Okay, Ally. I promise I won't allow you to make any more silly resolutions! :P

cdp said...

Dude. Last year Cadle and I came up with a resolution for me to get over McDreamy. Hilarious. We had a list and everything. All these steps I could take to feel better and not care about him anymore. Needless to say, it didn't work. However, we did make me a CD with some angry girl music (Alanis, Kelly Clarkson, etc.) which I still listen to all the time. Too funny.

That divorce hearing, while sad and pathetic, does sound rather amusing. I thank God on a regular basis that, while I wasn't spared a heartwrenching saga, I was at least spared having it all aired in open court. But seriously, "Did you offer a young black woman money to spend some time alone with you?" That is too much. One thing I'm reminded of on a regular basis is that working in the legal field is never THAT boring. You couldn't make this stuff up!

Flat Coke and Flies said...

I would have laughed in the courtroom too. Sometimes others misery makes us feel better about our own lives. It's like a wake up call to see how good we have it.

Not sure if I am a big fan of resolutions or not as well. I seem to tell myself 365 days a year "You need to drop 10 lbs Flat Coke".

Good Luck with your upchucking!!

Bob said...

You don't have no fault divorces? I thought people did not have to drag all that crap before a judge anymore?

Ally said...

Bob: I (thankfully) know almost nothing about domestic law, but this hearing was to set alimony, etc. I have no idea why all of that stuff was relevant, especially the repeated questioning about whether she denied him sex on their anniversary.

FC&F: Thanks!I've survived my third NYE without being sick (or really even getting more than a buzz).

Cindy: Yeah for angry girl music! "You Oughta Know" came out right as I found out my high school bf had cheated on me. And Ivy actually helped me out in a similar way:)

Aaron: sgh

AM: A camera would have been ideal b/c it's like Cindy said--you can't make this stuff up.

Jordan said...

I don't see anything wrong with making a New Year's resolution.. it signifies the beginning of a new time.. we associate things with years. "I did that in '05".. or.. "remember, 1998?..."... so many things are associated with that particular year, so why not try to make the next year better? I think of course it's smart that we'll try to resolve something immediately whether it's march, june or november... but being verbal about resolving things in the new years is simply a tradition... I'll be making some resolutions as well.. heck, maybe it'll turn into a post !

Billy said...

I think family court is the only thing remotely as entertaining as criminal court. I love quotes like "I plead the 5th" when you know they saw it on Law & Order and thought it was cool.

I think resolutions are good. If you keep them.

Kimberly said...

this court story sounds all too familiar...similar things come up in counseling sessions quite often. it's sad when the intimate details of your life become just data you recite to a stranger. It reminds me just how rare it is to really demonstrate that you care about each's as simple as putting the other person first, but when you lose sight of that, the whole thing unravels and it's not a pretty sight.
I am always optimistic this time of year with resolutions! I actually went to the gym today and it was surprisingly not that crowded! But I heard that the #1 resolution this year is actually not to lose weight or get fit, but to spend more time with friends & family. That's promising!
Happy New Year!!!

Ally said...

Jordan: I agree. I'm writing out what I'd like to see happen this year; I believe in self-fulfilling prophecies.

Billy: Hearing people use terminology they heard on T.V. is hilarious. And you're right about criminal being so entertaining; my few criminal clients keep me laughing.

Kimberly: I've been worried about my gym being overcrowded, so maybe it won't be. I'm going to be optimistic with resolutions too, and I hope 2007 is a fabulous year for you!