2000 Pulitzer nominee Fables Poetry

When the chips fall, make lemonade

Loose Leaves, 1st run Tuesday 27 July 1999 in The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas

By Ben S. Pollock
Copyright 1999 Donrey Media Group

Is there no justice anymore? I kept trying to commission a kangaroo to hear my two litigations, but Rent-A-Roo has been booked solid for weeks. Apparently, they’ve been kept hopping with all the other nuisance-negligence and frivolous-favoritism lawsuits that have been filed recently.

I’ve been injured in accidents I’ve admittedly caused myself.

Not infrequently, I heat the kettle for tea and slosh the boiling water over the mug onto the laminate from where it sluices to my tender waist (I’m leaning on the cabinet).

The defendants could include the electric company; the oven maker, seller and installer; the mug maker; the countertop maker, seller and installer; and my favorite tea company for getting me hooked on caffeine in the first place. I was thinking of suing the estates of Herr Fahrenheit and Monsieur Celsius, for setting the boiling point of water dangerously high.

Then again, I don’t have a hope to win a scalding-beverage complaint. Judges, chancellors and even arbiters by now surely are sick of hearing them.

My other two complaints, however, had a shot.

Because I was blaming myself, I also was my plaintiff’s defendant and vice versa. The last thing I needed, therefore, was legal representation; I would have had to hire at least two lawyers. Not only was I a plaintiff representing himself but also I was the defendant and the defendant’s attorney.

Binding arbitration now was the only way to go, with my cat, B.C., as magistrate. B.C. is wise beyond her considerable years, 15 as of Memorial Day weekend. She would be fair. Being an independent feline, she never favors her owner.

B.C. first demanded a signed release absolving her of blame for when I accidentally step — and sometimes slip precipitously — in something she’s left on the floor during the night.

I signed because of the need for justice in my two complaints, even though I could have gotten a pretty penny from “old gray whiskers” herself, the animal shelter that sold her to me and cat-care books I bought, all of which treated hairballs as a “minor inconvenience” and not life-threatening to nearby humans.

B.C.’s disclaimer didn’t mention the media. Comic strips and TV treat hairballs lightly. They’re not funny, and my rights are violated when the media poke fun at me and others like me. “Others like me” … hmm, class-action action?

B.C. jumped up onto her favorite blanket on her cat ladder. She only appeared asleep by the sunny window.

Your honor, last week in the kitchen I scooped ice and poured lemonade into a plastic tumbler to take with me to work. I honestly tried to be careful but I hit a rut at the end of the driveway and the cup leaped from the holder and sloshed down my leg.

Specifically, an ice cube hit the reflex point at the knee, so I kicked the floorboard. I didn’t feel that because the ensuing frostbite from the lemonade froze my toes.

The car sustained damage, too. The acid from the lemon melded the carpet fibers, and the sugar made everything sticky.

Your honor, within weeks, there were ants. I would’ve cleaned the floorboard, but it constituted evidence.

What, B.C., you say you have observed there is no carpet in the car and that’s why it appeared to have melted?

And you’ve found in favor of me, the defendant, and that me, the plaintiff, owes myself a million dollars? Yes, ma’am.

Oh, next case. I bought a bag of tortilla chips but in driving away from the store I couldn’t help but open the bag and munch.

Since of course I was focused on driving, I don’t notice that I was gobbling chips too big for my mouth. The corn crispies abraded the corners of my lips. With all that salt on the chips, my mouth stung for hours.

I admit that “chip lip” is not the responsibility of the bakery, the store where I bought the bag or Mother Nature for producing the salt, the corn meal and the partially hydrogenated oil.

What, B.C., if I make you wait for din-din, for an “unreasonable” 15 minutes to finish watching some TV, I certainly can make myself wait for treats, too?

Meow. You’ve found in favor of me, the plaintiff, and that me, the defendant, owes myself a million dollars? Yes, ma’am.

A man who represents himself in court,
Certainly has a fool for a client
And an ignoramus for a lawyer.
A man who acts as his prosecutor,
Is presumed guilty until convicted.


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