My very dear attorney friend (we shall call him Lawyer Dad) bought me a textbook (he calls them treatises) on Civil Procedure after it was official that I had been accepted to a law school for this coming fall semester. He insisted that I would be better prepared if I began reading this, as it would be one of my first classes, and he added that it was known to be one of the most confusing subjects. I'm not sure about that, but let's believe him for now (he is almost always correct with this stuff).
In my commitment to wanting to succeed in my future academic performance, spiced with fear that I may not understand this material, I immediately began reading this textbook in my free time (feel free at this moment to make some kind of Murphy-is-a-nerd comment). Let me tell you a secret of mine: I read deliberately. I don't read quickly at all, and this has caused some problems in the past, as I have often been led to assume that all words count and the possibility of losing context in a passage may result in imminent literal death (you like my pun there?). Also, it may have well been beaten into my thick little head with a sledgehammer covered in red ants that to fail to read footnotes is like failing to breathe.
Needless to say, I have been reading every iota of type on these first 89 pages for the past two weeks, including footnotes.
What I immediately realized was that the author of this "treatise" is just as easily distracted by random thought as I am. I first noticed this by reading footnote 18, which informed me that: "Mulligan is a golf term. When you hit a lousy tee shot, taking a Mulligan means you hit a new tee shot and do not count the lousy one. Mulligans are wonderful if you play like I do."
I passed off this footnote as way to comfort the future law student within me, as it was placed in the introduction part of the "treatise" (yes, I do read those), but the quirky little comments kept appearing:
Footnote 14: "That sounds strange, I know."
Footnote 102: "Be prepared for your professor's joke about BK wanting to 'have it your way' and about this being a 'whopper of a case.' Are they crummy jokes? Of course, but laugh anyway. You want your professor in a good mood."
Footnote 109: "Why do people say 'hot water heaters'? If the water is hot, it does not need to be heated. So they should be called water heaters."
These footnotes do provoke thought and logical analysis; however, as much as the latter three all have a correlation to the text, they leave the tiniest idea that they are not necessary. But they are! You see, I have learned that a vast majority of attorneys think in this way. Whether it is Lawyer Dad insisting that a water heater should be named a "cold water heater," or another attorney arguing, "Well, what's the difference between yelling 'Fire!' in a theater as opposed to yelling the same phrase in an open field? They both remain to be an expression of free speech." the idea is the same. Those little tidbits of distracting information are what lead us to exercise our unfounded abilities to pick apart and over-analyze every minute detail deliberately so that we may attempt to completely understand the situation as a whole. It may seem odd, complex, a symptom of Attention Deficit Disorder , or even another slice of evidence for my friends who insist that I have mild symptoms of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, but it's how we liberal arts academics function.
And it's great, because it fucks with your head without us doing it intentionally.
The bizarre digressions that I often catch myself making (such as the ongoing subject during my Constitutional Law I class of the Commerce Clause and the weird fact that along I-44 in Missouri, there often are churches built next to porn warehouses - yes, I said "porn warehouses". They exist.), that ultimately explode the minds of sane persons who dare to listen to me, would often cause me to believe that perhaps I wasn't cut out for law school, that maybe my penchant for quirky distractions would be an incurable disease that would leave me failing out of law school. This textbook screams otherwise. Surely, if this guy is appreciated enough to write an entire textbook on Civil Procedure for law students, he must be representative of a successful law student...right? Let's hope so.
By the way, have you ever wondered if a butcher was ever mistaken for a doctor? They both wear the same white jackets.