Pretty Woman

I almost feel sorry fojolier people that were born beautiful.  You know the kind I’m talking about.  The people who never experienced an awkward stage, as proven by a high school yearbook photo that looked like Angelina’s over here. <<<

 

 

glasses (2)Instead of this. >>>. BTW, this isn’t me, but it easily could have been. When your boyfriend sees your senior yearbook photo, and his only response is a combination of shock, pity, and an “Oh…Honey…” gesture of condolence – well then, that’s when you know it’s bad.

It’s truly tragic…the people who never experienced the horror of waking up to a monstrous zit that instantly turns their entire face into a bullseye.  The people whose hair always looks like they just emerged from a blow-out bar no matter the time of day or weather.  The people who could give birth to a future linebacker and be back in their skinny jeans the next day.  (Yes, Giselle – I’m talking to you.) I wonder – how will they cope when they no longer have that unique form of privilege that is only bestowed upon the beautiful?

As a little girl, I was a charmer. I remember hearing comments all the time – so pretty, aren’t you a pretty little thing, such a pretty girl, pretty, pretty, pretty. Even way back then, I began to wonder if that was the only important thing about me.

I also remember when I started getting noticed in a different way – and unfortunately, like it does to a lot of tween girls, it happened when I was way too young.  Walking home from the bus stop at the age of 12, there was a neighbor – I’ll call him Pedo Phil – that I swear used to lie in wait for me.  Pedo Phil was  in his late twenties, and he would whistle at me and say things like“Hey foxy”, “Looking like a fox today”, “You sure look foxy in those Jordache Jeans.”(Apparently, he had a limited vocabulary, at least when trying to seduce jailbait.)  It was mortifying – especially when he started lurking around in his open garage shirtless.  Thankfully, I had the intuitive Oh Hell No response whenever he invited me to come inside his house, and eventually his mother finally kicked the creeper out.

Once I hit 13, I had an extended awkward stage that lasted so long I assumed it was permanent. Convinced – like almost every girl  that age – that I needed to lose weight, I started the dreaded cycle of yo-yo dieting that only served to pack on the pounds even more.  Combine that with braces, acne, a questionable fashion sense, and some really unfortunate haircuts, perms and dye jobs, and let’s just say I came to accept that my role would be as the smart, sassy girl who had to survive on her wits, instead of her beauty.

Much later, in my twenties, that awkward stage finally wore off.  I emerged, much to my surprise, as something akin to a swan. I admit it was nice.  Even when male attention was unsolicited, it was still comforting to know that I was once again, a Pretty Girl. Like it or not, being a Pretty Girl meant also enjoying a certain intoxicating power that you can wield for either good, or evil. (See Mean Girls if you aren’t sure of the concept.)  People assume you possess positive traits like intelligence and friendliness when you’re attractive.  You get hired and promoted more frequently.  The opposite sex will vye for your attention.  You are more likely to be admired by your peers and forgiven for  transgressions, both big and small.

I understood this because I had also been the Invisible Girl .  I’d had conversations with guys where they couldn’t seem to maintain eye contact – they would stare right past me if any shiny object happened to walk by.  I remember wanting to grab them by the shoulders and shake some sense into them.  “Look at me!  Can’t you see that I’m smart, interesting, and kind?  You’re as average looking as I am!  Why is it that I can  see past your looks, and yet you still have the arrogance to think that I’m not good enough for you because I don’t look like Christie Fucking Brinkley?  Are you kidding me?”

But there is something even worse than invisible. There are the Outliers – the ones who fall far outside the very narrow parameters of what we consider attractive.  Their very existence incites mockery or emboldens morons to make incredibly rude comments. I imagine the morbidly obese and people with even a minor disfigurement experience this uniquely human form of cruelty all the time.

I’ve been an Outlier as well.  It occurred when I lost all my hair to chemo at the tender age of 19 – a side effect of the poisoning I had willingly consented to, because that very poison was also my one and only chance at salvation.  I remember that with every strand of hair that eventually jumped ship from my inhospitable scalp, it felt like I was losing something even more significant – both my femininity and my fragile sense of self.  I did not recognize the person staring back at me in the mirror, and so for a long time I simply avoided looking.

And yes, I was mocked in public – for being bald, as well as for sometimes donning a really unfortunate wig. As bad as I knew that it looked, it covered up the part of my body that announced my illness to the world, whether I wanted it to or not.  The hair helmet allowed me to pretend – at least for a little while – that I wasn’t engaged in a battle between life and death at an age when my biggest challenge should have been maintaining my GPA while spending a significant percentage of my time at either frat parties or the beach.

I remember, when I was bald, running into a guy I had recently dated while visiting a popular hangout in town.  He was surrounded by his posse and he literally turned his back on me, visibly mortified, when he saw me walk in.  What did he think my sick ass was going to do to him?  Tackle him and demand that he make sweet love to me right there on the bar?
Really asshole?  A hug and a few words of encouragement might have been nice though.

It hurt.  A lot.  But it also made me stronger and gave me an appreciation of  my hard won battle scars relatively early on.  I wasn’t just a pretty face waiting for time to inevitably diminish my value as a person.  I was a fucking warrior who understood that what is on the outside can be taken away in a single unfortunate moment, but what is on the inside lasts forever.

Think of beauty as a Tootsie Pop.  Sure the outside is tasty, and has lots of different flavors…but it’s actually the delicious, chewy inside that makes it special. Anyone can be a sucker.  But a Tootsie Pop?  That shit’s got substance you can sink your teeth into.

I try to keep those various perspectives as intact and engaged as possible, although it’s easy to get comfortable, let your guard down, and believe that the person you are now will continue to live on forever. Some people think the trajectory of life should be a flat-line followed by a precipitous drop at the very end.  I get that – frankly it feels good to know what lies ahead.  It also feels good to be comfortable in my own skin, even if it comes with a few more scars and wrinkles these days.

Yet somehow, I think I may still have a few more unexpected points of view, as well as a few more ups and downs.  And guess what? I’m all in. Because nobody should coast through life.  Assume it’s the only one you’ve got, and you are – and always will be – your life’s one true warrior.  Fight hard for it, through every peak – but especially every valley.   Whether pretty, ugly, average, or like me – all of the above – these are fleeting concepts and are not your lasting legacy.  You are far more than the sum of your symmetrical parts, and don’t ever forget you can find real beauty amidst the chaos.

Where Are You, Atticus Finch?

But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal- there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution gentlemen, is a court. It can be the Supreme Court of the United States or the humblest JP court in the land, or this honourable court which you serve. Our courts have their faults as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal – Atticus Finch

One of my top ten favoatticusrite books  is To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.  Interestingly enough, it’s also in my top ten favorite movies.  When was the last time a movie based on a novel wasn’t an absolute affront to the book?  I love the character’s names – Boo Radley, Scout, Jem, Eula May.  But my favorite was Atticus.  I will forever associate the name with the heroic, wise and principaled attorney played so perfectly by Gregory Peck. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to think that in real life, his character is about as real as The Tooth Fairy.

Let me do a little damage control by saying that I have good friends that are practicing attorneys, and most of them  have an excellent  moral compass.  But they tend to be more pragmatic than heroic – the way the system is set up, they kind of have to be. Although far from a proven hypothesis, my guess would be this moral but pragmatic group is still a significant minority of lawyers out their practicing law.  The rest of them…well let’s just say I am 99 percent certain that Satan doesn’t really exists, but if he did, I am also 99 percent certain he would be an attorney.

devil
Integrity is for pussies – see you in court!

Believe it or not, I didn’t always feel this way,  As a matter of fact, for a minute or two in college I actually toyed with the idea of going to law school. I still love the concept of law, but I’m really glad I didn’t pursue it – otherwise I might have ended up just another soulless pariah with a business suit.

When did my opinion begin to change on the nobility of practicing law?  Well, like a lot of people, it probably began with the OJ Simpson trial.  If you think that money doesn’t influence the outcome of both criminal and civil matters, well than I have a timeshare in Bakersfield I’d like to tell you about.  Dream Team?  I’d say a more accurate description would be the Ream Team, because they took the concept of justice and shoved it up our collective asses.

Do you honestly belieItove if OJ wasn’t rich and famous he would have been found innocent? Puleeze.  He had attorneys smart enough to pick jurors that had an ax to grind, and theatrical enough to deliver catch phrases like “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit!” Not to mention, one of the attorneys was none other than Robert Kardashian, and if his contributions to getting a murderer off scott free weren’t bad enough, he also spawned the 3Ks that will no doubt curse humanity for generations to come.  (I prefer not to say their actual names because – much like uttering the name Voldemort – it simply gives them more power.)  And don’t get me started on Judge Ito.

I also think that class-action attorneys haven’t really made the world better or safer, just more expensive.  There are exceptions of course, and although I think in theory the concept makes sense, in practice it fails to deliver.  The idea was that a single individual could not possibly be on a fair playing field when going up against a multi-million or billion dollar corporation – which is undoubtedly true.  Collectively they have more power.

A hypothetical example: (Hypothetical in this instance meaning it occurs about as often as the sun rises and sets on any given day.) If a mega bank defrauded their customers, charging them a bogus fee for a particular transaction, and a single individual files a lawsuit to complain about how they essentially stole a hundred dollars from him, or whatever the amount might be, do you think he would pay tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees to take the bank on?  Of course he wouldn’t.  And even if he was dumb enough to do so, he would quickly be swatted away like a pesky fly that alights on a horses ass.  But if you take said individual and multiply him by the thousands, well now you’ve got their attention.

sleaze
Voted the #1 family law firm by douchebags nationwide!

The problem with this concept is that the veryattorneys that are supposed to be fighting for the little guy, are no less greedy than the corporations they litigate against.  Case in point -the class action lawsuit brought by the law firm Milberg LLP against Nvidia, a chip maker, for making a faulty computer chip.  The roughly 28 thousand claimants divvied up a 10 million dollar settlement.  That’s about 350 dollars toward repairs or a computer swap per claimant.  And the attorneys?  Well they split 13 million dollars in attorney’s fees.  According to Milberg’s website, they employ 75 attorneys nationwide.  Assuming every single one of their attorneys worked on this case (which is inconceivable since they have several different practice areas other than mass tort litigation), that would mean over $170,000 in fees per attorney. When it comes to fucking their customers, Nvidia is a bunch of amateurs compared to these guys.

scott (2)
I see you only have 24 unused handicapped parking spots at your Ice Skating Arena. The law says you have to have 25. Now pay me money.

Here in Sacramento, we also have a little problem with the filing of frivolous ADA lawsuits by attorney Scott Johnson and attorney Lynn Hubbard. Between the two of them, they filed 182 ADA lawsuits in Sacramento in 2005 alone.  Johnson has filed well over a thousand in the past few years, basically terrorizing small business owners throughout the region.  If you see this pleasant looking fellow and his cute dog coming toward the front door of your establishment, my advice would be to a) find a crucifix and some garlic, stat; b) start hurling stacks of hundred dollar bills at him until he turns around and leaves; or c) immediately close your doors and lay off all your employees, because it’s futile to take on the ADA mafia.  Of course not all ADA lawsuits are frivolous, but I suspect that most of the ones filed by this guy are little more than legalized extortion, plain and simple.

scales2

Is this post funny?  Sorry, no – unless one believes in an inherently dark genre of humor that can ease the pain of realizing the full extent of man’s corruption, and upon hearing the final death knell of one’s ideals.  Do I have a moral to this story? Unfortunately no – other than to tell you that if you think the scales of justice are balanced, and that for most attorneys, integrity comes first and money second, then you are either blessed beyond belief to have had zero need for an attorney in your life thus far, or you’re a plucky little orphan girl with ringlets in your hair and a song in your heart. Either way, I envy your innocence.