Call me Audrey. I am a lawyer, so I will begin with disclaimers and disclosures.
First, I am a lawyer, not a poet. My prose is clear and intelligent, but workmanlike. The story I’m about to tell should hold your attention, since it is compelling and true. Indeed, everything set forth in these pages is substantially true, and within the truth; I wouldn’t be taking the time to share these recollections if I didn’t think they would interest anyone or provide useful information to those who might follow in my footsteps. But if you’re looking for lyrical passages that will make your heart stir, look elsewhere.
I excel at concisely describing the holdings of Supreme Court precedents or similar abstract concepts; I’m less talented at describing the things of everyday life. My descriptive powers generally do not extend to the physical — sunsets or landscapes or people’s noses (whether aquiline or button or surgically enhanced) — or to the emotional (because I’m somewhat alienated from my own inner life, a common affliction among lawyers). You will not come across many metaphors (because I’d rather skip a metaphor than use a clunky one). You will witness a fair amount of telling instead of showing (despite familiar admonitions to show rather than tell). Telling is efficient, and we lawyers like efficiency (despite all the jokes about how we’re paid by the hour and like to waste time; good lawyers are busy and don’t like to waste time).
This is not to say that I won’t attempt, on occasion, to wax a little lyrical. I was an English major in college, and I recognize and appreciate fine writing from others; I’m just not very good at producing it myself. That won’t stop me from occasionally trying (I enjoy challenges), but it also won’t stop me from failing when I do try. If you can keep your expectations reasonable, tolerate long patches of straightforward prose, and stomach the occasional hackneyed metaphor or cliché (when I do dare to speak metaphorically), then you won’t be disappointed. (Clichés are, in a certain sense, brutally efficient, since everyone knows exactly what you’re trying to convey; that’s exactly why people deploy clichés.)
Second, I am a lawyer, not a stand-up comedian. I hope to tell a tale that is interesting and informative, engrossing and enlightening, but I don’t promise comedy. You might find a chuckle here and there — some of my friends find me funny, some of the time — but if you want wheezing laughs that bring back your childhood asthma, look elsewhere. And this is definitely not satire. I take my subjects too seriously for that, and I respect them too much.
Third, these events took place during a different time. Please set aside any preconceived notions you might have about time or place or historical context; I’d urge you to make your mind a blank slate (note the cliché — very efficient). I will tell you everything you need to know about the political and legal climate, the president and the Senate and the Supreme Court, and what cases have and have not been decided. Please don’t import extrinsic knowledge (or parol evidence, as we lawyers like to say).
Fourth, although I will try not to bore you too much, this is not a thriller. There are no deaths, at least not of the violent kind, and no murders. There are no explosions, except of the temperamental kind, and no car chases. Combat is of the jurisprudential rather than hand-to-hand variety.
Fifth — and this should go without saying, but as a lawyer, it’s my job to say things that it’s unnecessary to say — I am giving you my version of these events, as I remember them. Accordingly, my account may (and surely will) contain errors, inconsistencies, and bias. If you were to ask some of the people mentioned herein for their versions of the same events, you would hear very different narratives. I hereby disclaim any assertion of authoritativeness. This story is for entertainment purposes only; you should not rely upon it for any important purpose.
(But please note this caveat to my caveat: I’m not knowingly providing false testimony. I’m describing events as I remember them, to the best of my ability. I’m not using this disclaimer as an excuse to tell you things I know or suspect to be untrue. In my better moments, when not racked by insecurity, I suspect myself of a few virtues, and one of them is this: I am one of the few honest lawyers that I have ever known. (Okay, that was a joke; stereotypes notwithstanding, most lawyers and judges are honest and upstanding — or, at the very least, no more dishonest than the average person.))
With these disclaimers in mind — by reading beyond this point, you hereby accept the foregoing terms and conditions — let me tell you what happened.
Subsequently—>Chapter 2: Not That Kind of Clerk