I haven't had as much time this Fall to substitute teach as I have the previous couple of years. I have been practicing law a little more than I have since leaving Uncle. Most of it has been Legal Services stuff. They tend to call me in on stuff involving money or property or Federal Court. They don't get a whole lot of that kind of business.
I spent a good bit of last week helping with a housing discrimination case down in El Dorado. Next week I have depositions in a really interesting case in which we opened a Probate for our client's daughter. Client's boyfriend, the child's father, got whacked a year or so ago. Shortly thereafter, Quitclaim Deeds purporting to bear the Decedent's signature which were allegedly executed prior to his death popped up which purport to convey certain real estate owned by him to a woman who claims to be his cousin and boon companion.
My client contends that the decedent's signature is a forgery. It sure looks like it to the untrained eyes of me and co-counsel. So we filed an action in the Probate case to cancel the Deeds for that reason. And away we go.
This is actually fun. You can't make this stuff up. It's a lot of work. But fun nonetheless.
However, I was able to go spend last Friday with the Middle School kids at St. Edward's downtown. Which once again raises the entirely legitimate question of how a Methodist lawyer got himself in the big middle of Catholic secondary education in this here town. This is certainly the question raised by many of my greatly amused Catholic friends. But here I am.
I got asked to help out at St. Edward's last Spring. I was kind of apprehensive because I had never spent time with kids that age outside of baseball. I certainly had no experience with girls that age. It worked out all right. I discovered that I get along with sixth graders which was unknown to me. I got along with everybody else too. And they behaved for me.
I am not above this sort of commerce and so last Friday I offered the 6th graders a bribe. They had never seen a fountain pen before. So I told them if they behaved we would take some time at the end of class for them to write with my fountain pens. The fact that I carried two astounded them. Worked like a charm.
I like it over there.
However, I suppose I am sufficiently exotic to them that they had questions for me. Mainly about my "favorite" things.
"What is your favorite color?"
"I don't know. I'm wearing black, blue and khaki today. I wore a lot of blue and gray when I worked all the time. Kinda like a uniform. But I don't have a favorite."
"What's your favorite TV show?"
"I don't watch much TV except for sports and the news."
" What is your favorite sport?"
" I'm mainly a golfer now. But I played pretty much everything but soccer when I was your age."
"Why didn't you play soccer?"
"Because nobody played soccer back then."
" What's your favorite football team?"
"The Saints. Lord help me."
"Do you like Notre Dame?"
"I hate Notre Dame."
That one actually drew a gasp.
"What is your favorite soft drink? Coke or Dr. Pepper?"
"I don't drink soft drinks." I decided it was best to let it go at that.
"What is your favorite pizza place? Papa John's or Pizza Hut?"
"I try not to go to chain restaurants."
"What is you favorite video game?"
"I don't play video games."
"I think we are establishing here that I'm just not much fun. Sorry."
At that point I was saved by the bell-literally- and they scurried out.
But it occurred to me that maybe the tastes of these kids are largely shaped or influenced by the advertising with which they are bombarded. I am pretty much impervious to advertising. There is no car ad in existence that could entice me to a showroom floor. But I had to at least quit tuning them out once I started doing consultant work for the Better Business Bureau a couple of years ago though. I know at least take notice.
Part of it is their age. Things are pretty black and white at 12. So when I was asked about my favorite food, I had to tell them that I didn't know. That I liked all kinds of foods just like I enjoy all kinds of music. That it largely depends on my mood.
Then again, I'm 45 years plus older than these little guys. I have experienced and done more. My tastes are broader and not informed by the media. At least not much. My responses to their questions were the nuanced answers of an adult. Sixth graders don't do nuance much.
But I wonder about them and the messages they are getting. I'm not so sure it's a good thing.
The guy the State accused of killing my client's boyfriend and an associate who was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time was charged with everything they could think of. 2 counts of capital murder, arson (he is alleged to have set the house they were in on fire), 2 counts of corpse desecration (secondary to the arson), unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person (naturally he was out on parole when this all went down) and spitting on the sidewalk on Sunday.
He was tried a couple of weeks ago. The jury hung up 11-1. He is back in prison (they revoked his probation when they arrested him a year ago. Duh.) awaiting a retrial in May.
Like I said. You can't make this stuff up.
The sixth graders' world may not be subtle or nuanced. But at least it is safer than the real world.
It's too bad it can't stay that way.