Monday, 31 October 2011

TRICK OR TREAT? (The Lawyer’s Halloween Story)

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Often we have heard it said that the Legal profession is a jealous mistress. Here, the flippant reader may point out that as a rule, most jealous mistresses are also unattractive. But we shall not be drawn into that argument.  The Law exhibits no more violent reaction than any female whose place in a man’s heart is under threat and will nag and fight, claw and bite, to restrain him from the lures of other callings. Like every possessive lass, the Law insists on making Life one long, unending courtship, and will put one through massive rigours in the quest for perfection. It is therefore no coincidence in the profession to say that Practice makes perfect.

So how did lawyers end up in this chokehold-romance? Well, it is the inevitable consequence of failing Math. This in itself is food for thought when expressed this way: Math is all about logic. You must fail Math to be a Lawyer. Yet, Lawyers decide the fate of society- by applying logic. (And the result is blind arguments. No wonder Justice is equally blind)

Back to the subject. Being such an abject failure in Math, the lawyer desperately turns to English. He must create a kind of balance by mastering the language beyond ordinary (and useful) application. So he devours the dictionaries and encyclopedias, derisively snorting at fiction and other lively writings. He digs for the roots of words and burrows through thick covers of the Thesaurus to guarantee an ample barrage of heavy-sounding synonyms. He is egged on by his tutors: “Talking is the Lawyer’s stock in trade, learn more words!” In his defective logic, he misses the irony when people offer low fees for his “services”. And the bewildered client rolls his eyes “Did they not say Talk is cheap?”

For his cheekiness, the client is dragged through the agony of multi-paragraphed affidavits, wherein he only recognizes his name amidst a befuddling mass of archaism. He further bears the cross during court examinations and comes out sweating, more than willing to settle out of that torture chambers they call - Courtroom. The lawyer smiles inwardly. Even if he is an utter imbecile at balancing equations, his Bank statement never fails to balance on account of his wordsmithery.

But Math shows its supremacy again. Technology!
While the Law sets out to make us all into wizened conservatives scared of stepping beyond the straight and narrow, Technology frees the merry, wayfaring adventurer in us. We squeal gleefully at another new toy in the market, frantically jostling for the latest designs. Nobody is spared. The old, the rich, the young and the struggling. Nobody stays the same after experiencing the seductive Blackberry touch. The world is launched into the exhilarating social media where all things are bright and beautiful. “LOL” removes the sting from all transgressions, and the “like” button maintains social equilibrium. We do not take it beyond that Zuckerberg fellow to add a new application- the “Facebook-Jury” and thus, place guilt/innocence at the realm of a digital sentence. Computer programmers never rest on their oars. Daily, algorithms and other complex numberings flow from their heads and assume the shape of more smart gadgets. The Ipads, the Galaxys…all these prove very bitter tablets for the Law’s ingestion. The world is no longer patient with words!

Risking the tumultuous ire of the jealous mistress, the Lawyer tries to experiment along these new ideas. He sneaks behind his dusty libraries and opens a lap-top. All the clients have gone online, and can only be reached with hi-tech lingo. After several vigorous scratches to his head, The Lawyer stumbles on a phrase: The LAW-BLOG. Lmao! Laughing My Ass Off (yes, the Law is an ass).

Incidentally, today is Halloween, and this thought conjures a scenario in my mind:

Think of the typical Halloween costume party. (Not like I have ever been in one though). Invitations have been sent out to your most interesting friends. The dour and the dull are conveniently omitted. Nightfall approaches, and the creepy characters start emerging: Count Dracula with his exaggerated canines dragging a bloodied heart in tow. Frankenstein’s massive frame vibrates the ground as he glares wildly at impetuous kicks from a snarling Mr. Hyde. Dorian Gray’s chilling eyes speak countless horrors of corrupted youth bottled in a fragile mask; Werewolves, Vampires and Zombies huddle in dark corners shrieking gutturally. If the setting is Nigeria, the acclaimed Nollywood House of Macro would also have done a decent replica of Mr. Clifford Orji; or  better still, Mrs. Merit (from Living in Bondage) swathed in white sheets with that disturbing monotone of “Andy, Andy, Andy”. Howls and cries reverberate on all corners of the room. Everybody is a child again, terrified and having fun.

And supposing, when the last guests trickle in and the oaken door is about to be sealed from the sleeping world, a final apparition rises from the shadows. This latest entrant is quite as scary as the rest. Flowing, ominous dark robes, and a timeworn, dusty headgear. Wow! Which character is this from the ghosts of the ancient past...?

The apparition suddenly turns and reveals a bespectacled face, while intoning its best imitations of the evil dead…in Latin.
Lo! It is a Lawyer!

I bet the party will break up awhile in confusion; and the misfit brusquely shown the way out. He will go back to the arms of his jealous mistress, who will kiss him for having returned, untainted by the noisy neighbors. A most wordy lover.
Meanwhile, he will lay silent in her arms, the loud fun-fare of the night eating his heart out.

He will remain an outsider to their revelry; because the world has not yet figured out what his real roles are: To Trick or to Treat?


POSTSCRIPT: Please, wish me a Fab' Birthday; and Welcome to the Unstarched Collar BlogSpot!