Posts Tagged ‘argument’

Last week, I told you about Elvis the conch shell living in my ear. The doctor called Elvis an ear infection, but – as I told you last week – I know the sound of the sea when I hear it. Anyway, Elvis has mostly left my ear, but likes to come back every morning to check the fit of his jumpsuit before he heads for Vegas. Annoying, but better than having him full time in my ear. Bye, bye, Elvis. Leave the building for good. Thanks.

Now, as I told you last week, according to Louise Hay, whom I admire, Elvis took up residence in my ear because of the presence of arguing in my life. And, as I was quick to conclude, she can’t be right because my three children have grown up and found their own nests. And we didn’t argue much, anyway, when they lived here. And I can’t argue with my two Golden Retrievers. I mean, I could try; but they’d only lick me and love me to death in response. So it wouldn’t work.

But then I remembered what I do for a living. Truth to tell, I’m a professional arguer. My work life is just one big argument. Still, that doesn’t seem like the kind of raucous noise that would invite Elvis in. In fact, my job is largely silent, except for keyboard keys clicking.

So what do I do for a living? Well, when I meet people, I often say I’m a legal writer. That’s closer to the truth than saying, “I’m a lawyer” like the irritating guy at the end of “TMZ” every night. But I am an attorney, licensed in no less than two states and the District of Columbia. Conclusion: this chick is good at bar exams.

I’m an appellate attorney which means you have to be a bona fide loser to meet me. Sorry clients. You know who you are. If you lose your case in the trial court because your flashy flamboyant trial attorney failed to charm the jury, I am the next stop on your legal “to do” list.

Now, while I admit to a preference for flashy and flamboyant in my personal wardrobe, my work wardrobe is one black suit which I wear to the court of appeal once every two or three years for oral argument. (Although next time, I swear, I’m wearing the red suit and six inch heels.) The rest of the time, I sit at my computer surrounded by Goldens, writing scholarly, unbrief “briefs.” And these tomes of legal wisdom, gentle readers, are my “arguments.” I tell the court of appeal in polite terms how the trial court screwed the pooch and why my client simply must have a new trial. I put these gems of legal scholarship between Gamma green cardstock covers and ship them off to the court of appeal by FedEx ground. Each one is a fascinating, page-turning tale of legal woe. But the clerk of the court NEVER calls to say, WHAT A GREAT READ! (Although the guy at FedEx who copies, binds, and reads them, sees my potential as a fiction writer.) No, the clerk only calls when I forgot to sign some tacky service page. SIGH!

Several months after I launch my green guided missel into the office of opposing counsel, he or she fires back his or her own lemon-yellow hand grenade, asserting the trial court was brilliant in every way and made not one single mistake in the entire month-long trial. In fact, according to opposing counsel, His Honor is an unbiased saint, and twelve smarter, unbiased jurors could not possibly have been found on the planet. Appellant is just the sorest of losers. Twenty days later, I lob back a chicly neutral Bristol-tan reply brief that says, ever so politely, opposing counsel clearly graduated dead last in his class. He or she does not know what he is talking about.

After that, sometimes I put on my suit, go to court, and stand behind the too-high-for-short-people podium for an oral argument that lasts all of fifteen minutes. But rarely. I mean, after all that writing, who has anything new to say? And the court of appeal will offer to lynch me if I bore them with what I’ve already said.

So, upon reflection, I do have argument in my life. But not the loud kind that would invite Elvis for a week-long sleepover in my ear under Louise Hay’s view of the Universe.

While the stately, professional arguing I do for a living has a purpose – it lets disappointed litigants air their grievances in a safe, controlled environment which is kind of like releasing compressed air to clean a keyboard – I don’t have much use for argument in my personal life. Maybe that’s because I got “argued out” as a child. My parents went at it 24/7. They saw each other – or one of us – and automatically launched an attack. No wonder I grew up thinking being a champion arguer was a badge of honor. Not to mention survival. But no one ever persuaded anyone to change his or her mind. It was all just word bullets fired into our most vulnerable emotional places.

So when my own three children entered my life, I couldn’t bring myself to surround them with the hurtful, constant criticism and argument that was the only way my parents could relate to their children. I mean, when you love someone with all your heart, do you really care if they turned over their soda by accident or forgot to put the toilet seat down, or wanted an extra cookie? (Who doesn’t want an extra cookie?) Looking back, the stuff my parents thought was make or break makes me laugh because it wasn’t all that important. For example, one of my father’s favorite rants was I’d never graduate from any school whatsoever because I couldn’t spell. (Didn’t anyone tell him how English got its spelling rules? Printer’s misspellings!) But enter spell check! And I have three (count them three) post graduate degrees. Cum laude. Guess I showed him I could graduate. Over and over and over again.

But the most interesting thing about arguing is that when I let go of the rope and fail to respond, my opponent has no ammunition to continue the fight. Really, it is the funniest thing to watch in the whole world. Try it. You will die laughing inside when tough guy stares at you with nothing else to say. It is so much fun, you won’t even be tempted to argue back. Silence has enormous power.  Said by a professional arguer!

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