Any Boston Legal fans? David Kelley groupies? Show of hands? Ahhh
I have never done this for a TV show, ever, but I seek out and read the transcripts of certain shows because there are some lines I'd like to read slowly and savor.
Alan Shore's closing arguments are unbelievable (and I mean that in the suspension of disbelief and awe and amazement at stunningly good writing and point-making ways).
For those of you not in the know, Alan Shore is an idealistic idealogue who stands on principle and has remarkable courage of conviction.
That's not how I feel, though.
I feel the incredible sense of disgust at injustice and an off-kilter world, with values and priorities askew that Alan often reveals in his closing arguments in the courtroom.
I wish this was related to some big issue that I could write persuasively and eloquently about. But it's not. It's not about one thing or a big thing. Instead, it's about a series of small things that I suspect all gel to form a big thing.
There's a story I heard on Boston Legal, although it's not the first time, I think, that I heard the story. (Link to PDF source.)
Judge Gloria Weldon’s Courtroom
Attorney Samantha Fried: A catastrophic flood—a man is on his roof. The flood waters rise, inching closer to his heels as he clings to the chimney. A rowboat passes. “Get in my rowboat or you’ll certainly drown,” says the man in the boat. “No. God will save me,” answers the man on the roof. A motorboat passes. “Get in or you’ll certainly drown,” “No,” says the man on the roof. “God will save me.” Now a helicopter flies over, and the pilot shouts, “Climb up this ladder to me or you’ll certainly drown.” “No, God will save me.” And the helicopter flies off, and the man drowns. And when the man gets to heaven, he says, “Lord, why didn’t you save me?” And God says, “I sent you a rowboat, a motorboat, a helicopter.”
I feel like the man on the roof. Am I so blind as to be missing the obvious? Am I looking for the wrong thing? Have I asked for the flood waters to recede when I ought to be paying attention to ways to stay above water?
Most of all I want to cry out to ask, "What do you WANT from me?"
Last night I dreamed again about living beside the sea. No, not this sea, no, not this house. There was a little fishing shack, past the beach, where soil allows sparse grass to grow. My ghostly self entered the shack and saw it stocked with things of ease and comfort: old cans of fresh water, some blankets and towels, books, as well as practical beach side equipment. I didn't stare too long. The items seemed to be circa early mid-20th century, 40s, or maybe 50s. Who can tell. Certainly not me, the dreamer. My ghostly hand reached to pull a book off the shelf. My not-there mouth smiled and I felt a little spurt of fondness for the me I used to be. Such a silly little book, on the shelf there, alongside the weightier classic tomes. And yet I recalled it as my favorite. I could not resist flipping it open, to look once more at the pages. My mind tried to make sense of the words on the page, but they were from a different time and space. In front of me now are hatching crocodiles, or maybe alligators. I never can tell. Two hatched and scooted quickly under a bit of tree root and watched in resignation and horror as an adult croc-i-gator gobbled up the siblings. "What do we do now?" asked one to the other. "I don't know," said the other, "I've never been a crocodile before." Just then the view panned back and I saw it was the same beach area. A large Newfoundland dog ran along the beach. I snapped my attention away from the reptiles and stared at him. I knew that dog! I knew him! I knew the fluffy furry softness of his head, where I used to bury my nose. I knew how his tongue lolled to the side while he slept. He leapt into the water and I wanted to warn him of the dangers, but he seemed to know. I could only float gently and watch.
I snapped awake, confused and distressed. I wasn't worried to have such an odd dream. I was worried that I knew that dog and book and couldn't think of the name or title.
The clock told me it was 4 a.m. and I chastised myself to go back to sleep, but my mind whirred around and around about the choices and issues weighting me down so heavily just now.
These things are making me feel mad and mean inside. I am a petulant child who sulks and resists having to make all the choices and shoulder all the burdens. I am a tantrumming child, resisting change, not wanting to stop doing what I like to do something I might not like, and I'd rather not, just in case, if it's all the same to you. I'm an angry child yelling about fairness when I do not get what I want or expect. I'm a parent chastising myself, telling myself baldly I am not entitled. I'm a young woman, wondering if, unbeknownst to me, I am the silly contestant for the American Idol reject reels.
I'm not good at drawing lines, and I long ago gave up trusting my instincts. I lost a while back what it is that I mean to go about doing.
What do you do when you decide to reclaim that...and are immediately tested in many ways?
I talk and whine vaguely, and a friend recently asked, "What does it cost you to never tell what happened, the context?"
I imagine it costs less than telling. People can have opinions about keeping secrets---something I dislike, for the record, when it is simply a power play, such as a close friend or relative saying, "Oh we aren't telling what we're naming the baby"---but they have judgments about events.
When my husband came down at 5 a.m. to prepare to leave for work (yesterday he left at 4 a.m.), he saw me downstairs and asked, "What's wrong?" and then was too stunned to reply when I said the only answer worse than nothing, "Everything."
My life is a dryer full of rocks right now, chunking and clanging, knocking and banging. Dryers are good, rocks are good. But not together. So which do you need? Which one do you keep?
Alan Shore has brought his very own personal soapbox with him, and sets it in the middle of the floor; steps up onto it, and buttons his jacket for good measure.
Judge Gloria Weldon: What are you doing?
Alan Shore: Climbing on my soapbox, Judge. I do it once a week.
Judge Gloria Weldon: Get off that thing now, Mr. Shore!
Alan Shore: You sure? This is vintage soapbox stuff.
. . .
Has anyone ever heard of restless legs syndrome? It’s where you move your leg about in your sleep. It’s awful. You may have it. It may not keep you awake; it doesn’t really harm you in any way. It may not bother you in the slightest, but nonetheless it’s awful. The pharmaceutical companies have declared it so. So they’ve invented a drug, and you simply must take it. If you haven’t heard of restless leg, by the way, you probably have attention deficit disorder. Awful. We’ve got a lot of drugs for that one. You must take them. You’re depressed.
Cut to a female juror who looks somewhat sad
Alan Shore: You’re not sleeping enough.
Cut to Denny Crane, who IS sleeping!
Alan Shore: You think you’re shy, but you’ve actually got a social anxiety disorder.
Cut to male juror who looks a bit uncomfortable with the attention.
Alan Shore: as camera pans across an older male juror Weak stream. and another male juror Irritable bowel syndrome. You people have all kinds of ailments you don’t know about. Luckily, we’ve got drugs for
every one of them. You must take them. My colleague has a case involving a “Forgetting Pill.” You can take that one to forget you ever had restless leg or irritable bowels!
There is no pill for decision-making or life-changing, not to help you decide, not to help ease the transition. There is no epidural for it, either. So, au naturel, sans pain relief, we must charge forward, as grown-ups and do what must be done.
But what must be done isn't so obvious.
Because while there is no pill---not yet---there are plenty of must-haves.
And the trick? The trick is sorting out what is truly a must-have versus something you've been told you must have.
This is about school, kids, career, next steps...not my health, no news on that front, which is good news, although I am chronically tired of chronic sickness.
NOTE: Heads Up for Hump Day. Tomorrow...
Lawyer Mama was inspired by my 27 Dresses post and suggested for this week (2-13): Are people we know fair fodder for writing? People in our real lives? Online? Other bloggers? Things we read, such as blog posts, emails, news stories, etc?
How do you handle writing about people? What are your criteria for discussing the people who affect you? Have you ever dealt with someone finding themselves in your writing and reacting (in any way)? Share with us your ethics and mores as a writer, when it comes to characterizing others.
Every single one of you ought to tackle this one. Seriously, we need a lot of voices weighing in on this. I think it will be useful for newer bloggers, heck, any and all bloggers.
If at least 6 people post I will trouble myself to employ SOCIAL MEDIA for publicity.
I hope you all know how much that means, coming from me.
Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
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