I was a college kid in the 1990’s. It doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago, but then I start doing the math and I get very depressed. Kids that were born in 1991 can lawfully drink alcohol today and there I was graduating high school in the year of their birth. Gads.
I was a carefree college kid of the 1990’s. Nirvana. Oodles of Noodles. Good times.
Although it was the prehistoric age, we didn’t differ all that much from the college kids of today. We ran down the dorm halls like goofballs, we cracked the occasional book and we enjoyed a few friendly get-togethers at the hospitable fraternities of N.C. State and U.N.C. There was, however, one main difference that my well meaning 20-something paralegal pointed out for me: “I think reality shows are for my generation what soap operas were for your generation.”
Yes, my elderly brain foggily recollected waaaaay back in the day where all talk, work and frolic stopped for a couple of hours in the afternoon as we gathered around the dorm televisions to breathlessly watch the next installment of whatever CBS/NBC/ABC daytime drama we were addicted to. The story lines were completely absurd and the acting was deplorable, but we couldn’t tear ourselves away from those overly made-up faces framed by overly hair sprayed hair (I am referring to actresses and actors).
After I graduated college, I went to work and the normal 8-5 work week didn’t exactly lend itself to The Young and The Restless and General Hospital. One day when I was sick at home, I happened to catch an episode of a soap that was boasting a demonic possession story line. I watched in horror as one would gawk at a train wreck, then I turned the TV off and I never went back.
I was all proud of myself for my new highbrow attitude, but my paralegal’s depressingly insightful comment gave me a bit of a wake-up call. I hadn’t given up soap opera drama. No, I didn’t watch the shows anymore and I certainly had no intention of tuning back in, but I’d found a new drug to sustain my tacky habit: The practice of law.
Seriously, just think of the absurd story lines that soap writers always seem to fall back on as old favorites and I can match them with my own personal reality show:
1. Evil Twins: The hands-down all time favorite soap opera story line. Once upon a time, I represented a college aged girl—Jane—whose favorite pass time was to get in drunken fights with police officers at the downtown bar scene. At one point, I had five active cases open for her as the result of punching, biting, scratching and kicking law enforcement officers on various occasions.
Miss Thing also had a terrible habit of not showing up for her multitude of court dates in spite of my office’s extraordinary measure of providing a court date chart for her. Let me also add that, every time I had to get a continuance as the result of her failure to appear, I had to get the arresting officer’s consent to continue. I’m sure you won’t be shocked to learn that the police officer who had been punched, bit, scratched or kicked didn’t harbor much leniency in his heart. After several missed court dates, I wrote her and told her that I would withdraw from representation and leave her file for a warrant if she failed to grace us with her presence yet again.
I appeared on the next court date with a Motion to Withdraw as Counsel all signed and ready to go. I nearly dropped on the floor from a heart attack when I saw that Jane had answered the court calendar. I called her out into the hall so that we could decide how to proceed. She’d even dressed appropriately. Something wasn't right.
When we got outside, the poor girl looked ashen with fear as she grabbed my arm with her cold and clammy hand and whispered urgently, “I’m not Jane!”
Oh great, I thought, we get to plead the insanity defense. Before I could open my mouth to determine just how insane Jane was, the girl said, “I’m Jane’s sister. We’re identical twins. She stayed out too late last night and she’s hung over and she asked me to come down and pretend to be her so she didn’t get in trouble.”
I was nonplussed to say the least. After checking the girl’s driver’s license, asking some pointed questions and being unable to located Ashton Kutcher with this Punk'd crew, I determined that I was, in fact, talking with the “Not Evil Twin” and that the “Evil Twin” was home with her head down the toilet. The resemblance was uncanny.
I fulfilled my ethical obligations and got the hell outta there.
2. The “I’m Not Dead Yet” Scenario: Soap opera writers constantly amaze me at how they write re-hired actors back into a plotline. If the head drama queen asks for more money because she’s 985 years old and plastic surgery is getting more expensive, those writers will kill her ass in a heartbeat. Her character gets chopped up into 30 pieces which are all mailed off to separate parts of the world and then burned, but here she comes sashaying back into the scene a few months later.
I had a client who was charged with bigamy. Rather surprisingly, he bonded out—I couldn't believe that he didn’t want to keep nice, strong bars between him and his wives. While on release, he “fell off a boat” while deep sea fishing and the presumption was that he was dead.
So, what did the dumbass do? He didn’t even go somewhere cool like the Caribbean—he got picked up at South of the Border in Dillon, South Carolina. He was too stupid to be released into the free world—just ask Pedro.
3. Who’s Your Daddy?: This one’s not exactly a surprise. In the soap world So and So has a weak moment and sleeps with Mr. Pectoral Muscles while broken up with Sensitive Rich Guy. So and So reunites with Sensitive Rich Guy while brushing Mr. Pectoral Muscles under the rug even though he still harbors a mad case of the hots for her. So and So finds out she’s preggo and—gasp!—who’s the daddy??? (Cue the violins and break for the Tide commercial.)
Well, DUH, that particular fact pattern is all the hell over the courthouse. Paternity tests, maternity tests, fingers pointing and claws out. Baby Mama 1 catching Baby Daddy in flagrante delicto with Baby Mama 2. The wrong-ee trying to run the wrong-er over with an El Camino. Simple Affray. Simple Assault. Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Assault with a Deadly Weapon with the Intent Kill or Inflict Serious Bodily Injury. Guns, knives, brass knuckles, sticks, rocks, flame throwers, John Deers, chains, whips, microphones, hot grease, mace, tire irons, fire irons, bleach, frozen foods, chainsaws, bottles, furniture, wicked high heels, bricks, cement blocks, computer screens, computer keyboards, hair dryers, guitars, flutes, trashcans, baby car seats, hammers, screw drivers, meat mallets, wrenches, scissors, curling irons, staplers, weed eaters...