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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Female Trouble

There are all kinds of female trouble for a man. It doesn’t matter if you have one or more than one or none. It’s all trouble. This was my day for too many.

My client (call her ‘She’)is only 20 and to me that means She’s still a kid. She’s a sociological case study, this one, charged with helping her boyfriend (call him ‘Dog’) and his homies jack another kid’s cell phone and ipod, this year’s Air Jordans, my era’s lunch money. Dog and his bro’s snatched a few others that night along with a watch, an A’s cap, and some other loot. Then they called her, cuz She had a sweet ride, her daddy’s Cad.

So She picked them up and they cruised and She stopped to get gas and on the way out, the boys saw another fool so they got out and jacked him too. When the cops found them kickin’ it at the park, they found all the stolen shit and they were all busted.

The boys are charged with three robberies and She with abetting the last one.

Daddy bailed her out and he’s with her in court. So is Mummy and Mummy’s Sister. They’re nice people, still strangers stranded in The American Valley, though they’ve been here many years. They speak in that clipped Indian accent I like to listen to, so polite and Englishy. Civil and civilized in an uncivil and uncivilized world. Like the Chinese and the Jews, the Sikhs thrive in many alien worlds by tenaciously preserving their ways.

They’re supportive of their daughter, got her into counseling immediately. She’s on hiatus from nursing school, where She’s going because Mum’s a nurse. Daddy takes her to work with him. Mummy is an attractive woman, dressed & coifed American. Daddy sells cars and has that glad hand personality that goes with it.

Daddy makes pronouncements but Mummy just shoots looks that end discussions. He is big on “respect,” and they both are convincing me that their daughter is full of it, deep down.

“This is not how we raised our daughter,” they keep reminding me. The usual rap: theirs is a “good home,” their child is kind, trusting, loving – too kind, too trusting and too loving to the wrong friends and that’s the problem.

The girl has that Indian look — overly generous eyes, nose, lips, figure. But she’s done what she can with it: she wears startling sky blue tinted contacts, nose and lip studs, too much make-up, has squeezed into faux Paris Hilton rags. It’s a new Her. It doesn’t work for me, but she must have something for Dog, cuz she’s hooked.

All too soon, with my penchant for cross-examining women that endeared my to mine, I strike a nerve with Mummy. “You didn’t approve of her boyfriend?”
“Of course not.”
“Because he’s a thug.”
“Because he’s Black. If she marries him, we’ll disown her.” A simple straightforward declaration, as if it didn’t have to be discussed. “In our culture, it is impossible.”
“So, what about a Muslim?”
“The same.”
“And a Hindu?” That brought about some equivocation. Seems that to Sikhs, Hindus are only marginal, worth a hesitation.
So, I launch into my sermon, my argument for tolerance. First, I assure them that I get them.
“Its the same with us Jews,” I say, with some hyperbole. “For us, the grandmother’s first question was, ‘Is she Jewish?’ They used to want to know more: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, what part of Europe her people came from?” That gets me on their team.

Then I think of a cool analogy. “You know Vice President Cheney?”
They nod somewhat vaguely. I proceed with a fable: “Well, he’s a strict Christian Fundamentalist and when his followers found out his daughter was homosexual, they asked him about it. He said, ‘I don’t approve but I love her.’ Then they found out she was marrying her lover, they asked him again to denounce her. He said, ‘I don’t approve but I love her.’ Then she announced that she was pregnant. (This stumped my listeners and I had to explain how this could be done without miracles.) Cheney’s followers were outraged. Still, he insisted that though he disapproved of his daughter’s ‘choices’ he still loved her and would love her child too.”

They listen with respect, but my little fable sermon didn’t persuade.

All this while we wait and wait for another woman, the lawyer appointed for defendant #2. She sweeps in around 10:30, stammers an apology to the judge and enters the lock-up to talk to her client. I wait for her to get around to me.

When she does, I’m ready for her. “I don’t appreciate being cross-examined,” she snoots.
That’s enough for me to go off. “Listen, sweetheart,” I whisper loudly, choking on my words, my finger poking at her. “I called the panel to find who was assigned and they gave me your number. So I called you and it was obvious you’d forgotten this case. Then you ask me to stand in for you but you hadn’t even met your client yet.”
She’s fazed. “I tried to call the court but I had the wrong number.”
“Yeah. I heard you tell the judge that. But you found it quick enough after you hung up on me, didn’t you?”
“I don’t have to answer that.”
“Not to me, you don’t. Not today.”
“Is that a threat?”
My glare answers her.

The two custodies are brought out and my client sits in the third seat. I’m standing with my calendar out and we’re talking about next date. I glance around and She’s whispering to her “man” whose cuffed next to her. I shush her.

Then she twists around and mumbles something toward the audience. There’s two Black girls in the second row. They’re smiling at her in that nasty way girls have with rivals. The female mad dog. My client says aloud, “Bitch, you ain’t nothin.’”

“Young lady, turn around and be quiet,” the judge says before I can. He rolls his eyes and I shake my head. I repeat the order to her but she keeps returning the looks and curses at the girls. I want to slap her. The bailiff sees my look and orders the spectators to move. He fears a fight in the making.

After court, I take my client aside, another cross-exam. She’s been taking Dog’s calls, putting money on his books for a calling card. Her look is her Mummy’s but She’s talking about the girl in the audience. “She thinks he’s hers, but he’s not. He loves me.”
“And you love him.”
She doesn’t have to answer.
“Okay, here’s the deal. You tell me if you love him enough to go down with him. He’s going to the joint.”
“I’ll wait for him.”
“You might go with him.”
“No, I won’t go that far.”
“That’s a start. But you are jealous.”
“No,” she insists. “He don’t care about her. She’s the one that’s jealous.”
“How did she know to come to court?”
She shrugs, but the answer is obvious.
“Your boy’s a player. That’s what you’re worried about.”
“I’m not jealous. I’m insecure.”
“Okay, insecure. Here’s the thing. To defend you I have to dump on him.”
“He’ll say I didn’t know anything.”
“That won’t cut it with the DA or judge — and his lawyer may say he was stealing shit for you.”
She knows that.
I tell her something she also knows. “If he loved you he wouldn’t have gotten you into this shit.”
“He said he was sorry.”

Its no use but I instruct her anyway. “No contact with him or with those girls and if they stalk you call me or the cops. After the case, you can do what you want. As to your parents, you’ll be 21 soon. You don’t have to live with them or take their money.”

On the drive home, I’m listening to the news. The astronaut triangle story is churning. I’m thinking, where’s the next screenplay coming from? “Romeo And Juliet’s” been done. And “Fatal Attraction,” too. I’m too fatigued to write this one. The bitches have taken me down, dude.

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