So I’m standing at Rick’s Caffe O’ Law dumping about half a jar of nutmeg into my cappucino till the milk caves in, and pondering his posted business license which states that his coffee cart is “not sexually oriented.” And I wonder what a “sexually oriented” coffee cart would feature. Might give a whole new meaning to the concept of “froth.” And then I start analyzing this concept under the First Amendment and wondering whether Barnes v. Glen Theatre would apply, and then I realize that I really have been at law school much too long.
For one thing, my Access loan provider already thinks I’ve graduated, and keeps sending me these payment due notices. Whenever I get one, I have to call this 1-800 number, navigate six pushbutton menus, sit through an entire album side of new-age elevator music, give my social security number, get transferred, repeat my social security number, get transferred again, and finally I get to tell a warm body, “Hello, there’s an error on my statement. I haven’t graduated. I’m still a law student and I have no money to pay you.”
Loan Company Warm Body: (after long silence) “Didn’t you graduate in 1999?”
Me: “No, I didn’t graduate in 1999. In fact, since I’m doing a four-year joint degree program, I’m not graduating till 2001.”
Warm Body: (Very long silence while attempting to process this earthshattering news. Perhaps a slight disbelieving grunt, as if I had said, “In fact, since I’m a citizen of Pluto, the Attorney General has granted me a golden ticket to attend law school for free.”)
Me: (Prattling in attempt to fill the silence gap) “There was this other Mary C------ at my school and I think she graduated in 1999, and I used to get all her phone messages and library overdue notices, and once I almost got her Chinese Law final exam from the registrar by mistake, but she’s not me, and I’m a different person, and I haven’t graduated and I HAVE NO MONEY TO PAY YOU.”
Warm Body: “Do you still go to Georgetown?”
Warm Body: “Georgetown told us you graduated.”
Me: “Georgetown is wrong. Georgetown knows perfectly well I didn’t graduate. They just sent me a tuition bill last week.”
Warm Body: (After another long silence) “Well, do you go part time or something?” (The insinuation being that I just drop by the law school every once in a while when I feel in the mood, like when it’s raining and there are no good “Rockford Files” reruns on TV.)
Me: “No, I am a full time day student, here at school, all day, every day, including many weekends, and Georgetown people see me and know me and know that I go here.” (Geez, that sounded idiotic, especially considering that some of my 3L classmates have literally not shown up for lectures in months and could be slinging hash on the Jersey turnpike for all I know.)
Ah, my 3L classmates. They’re scary. I remember the day when they all hit Gewirz with their befuddled expressions, blinking like newborn hamsters seeing the Habitrail for the first time. Now they’re all rushing around in suits and briefcases and fresh haircuts making knowledgable cracks like, “Fleagle and Doohickey only raised to $110,000? What a toilet!”
My cat Babe says I shouldn’t sweat it. Babe and I often have these discussions, usually at 4 a.m. when I’ve been up for about 48 hours trying to write some paper or other. For ye who doubt me, cf. Miles v. City Council of Augusta, Georgia, 710 F.2d 1542, 1544 (11th Cir. 1983) (recognizing the existence of a talking cat and considering his First Amendment rights). Hey, as all good journal folks know, “If they’ve got a cite, they’ve gotta be right.”
The other night I was frantically plowing through the many sections of the Fair Credit Reporting Act on Westlaw, just in case the loan company turns my file over to the knee breakers, when Babe jumped up on my printer, swatted a Bluebook to the floor, and said, “You have to start taking it easy.”
“What would you know about it,” I snapped as my modem stalled.
“Calm down,” he purred. “In my seventh life, I happened to be an attorney.”
“Aw, you’re just blowing hairballs,” I retorted.
“No, I really was,” he insisted. “Actually, being an attorney isn’t that different from being a cat. You posture around a lot, stare down your opponents, occasionally whip out the claws, and sometimes you get to catch a real rat. And the discovery process is a lot like pawing through the ol’ litterbox.”
“I noticed you were a very thorough digger,” I said. “But at least, as a cat, you get to sleep 70% of the time. I sure don’t.”
“True,” Babe yawned, “but there are tradeoffs. For attorneys, butt licking is a figurative rather than a literal activity.”
After this little exchange, I decided the best thing for me would be a shot of Bailey’s in bed. As I snuggled down, I considered the possibilities of a sexually oriented coffee cart featuring lots of nutmeg (I heard it’s an aphrodisiac), plus a talking cat who gives free legal advice. I figured I’d analyze it in the morning, under the Court’s new ruling in Erie v. Pap’s A.M.