When human beings are introduced to one another, the typical exchange goes something like this:
"Hi, I'm Thelma," Thelma says with a smile and a handshake.
"I'm Louise. Nice to meet you," Louise reciprocates.
"Nice to meet you as well," replies Thelma. "Lovely event this evening, wouldn't you say?"
"Yes, yes, it is," answers Louise. "So, what do you do?"
Ah, what DO you DO? It's the question that dangles its feet off the ledge of many a newly acquainted tongue, just waiting for the moment to leap into conversation. I suppose this greeting is better than canine introductions, what with the mutual sniffing of derrieres and such, but must we begin this way?
It's not that I'm not proud of my profession. OK, it's not only that I'm not proud of my profession. It's that when someone finds out I'm a lawyer, one or both of two things invariably happens: They tell lawyer jokes and/or ask legal advice.
"A lawyer, eh? You heard the one about the difference between a vacuum cleaner and a lawyer riding a motorcycle? The vacuum cleaner has the dirt bag on the inside!"
"When attorneys die, why do they bury y'all 20 feet down instead of 6? Because deep down, you're not so bad!"
"You know the difference between a lawyer and a liar? Pronunciation. Get it? Pronunciation! Bwahahaha!"
Yes. I get it.
"But hey, what kind of law do you practice anyway, because I've got this deal going right now between me and my ex and I was supposed to get the kids on --"
"Well," I try to interrupt, "I do estate planning and real estate and ..."
"Oh, good, real estate, 'cause she's still got my name on that house and that needs to change, but I'm not going back to the divorce lawyer because she charged for every phone call I made, even the ones when I called during normal business hours. I've also got this thing at work where they say I fell asleep on the job, but I have a medical marijuana card for that, and that's profiling."
I wish I were making this up. To combat this exchange, I usually begin with more honorable professions before disclosing the full truth.
"I always thought I'd get back to dancin' on tables, but at my age, it's more of a liability. Those poles are slick, and I can't afford the insurance."
Or: "My folks hoped I'd keep up the family business, but with all the land development goin' on 'round here, it's harder to hide a moonshine still these days." (This isn't much of a stretch since my grandmother ran shine as a kid and grew up to own a liquor store.)
But if pressed, I come clean. "I'm a lawyer, and I write for the newspaper. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted and used against you."
Maybe those dogs were onto something.
NAN Our Town on 01/30/2020