It had been a gloomy day, and I don’t just mean the weather. I was running behind schedule to court. The closest parking spot was three blocks away, so I got to enjoy a brisk walk to the courthouse in the rain, which didn’t start until I had left my car (and my umbrella) behind.
I was headed to court for something even less enjoyable- discovery disputes. Judges hate them like the plague, and I think I hate them more. Especially on a Monday.
Lawyers hope to have things go their way in a motion hearing. When it doesn’t, it is important to keep the disappointment to one’s self.
“Mr. Farris, are you trying to show your contempt for this court?”
“No your Honor, I am trying to conceal it.”
My morning went from wasting time to almost doing time. Even if this exchange only happened in my mind Gentle Reader, you get the gist.
On days like this, it is nice to see a friendly face, and few faces are friendlier than those of the bartenders at Bogey’s Last (Ba)Call. I walked from the courthouse to the bar for a cold one to take the hot sting out of the morning.
It was early in the day, but evidently, I wasn’t the only one having a rough time. Stuart Thomas was already on a barstool when I walked in the door. From the look on his face, he wasn’t going to rib me about having a drink early in the day.
“Stu, what do you know?”
“Nothing. And even less than yesterday.” Stuart wasn’t one to cry on your shoulder. He kept his emotions to himself, but he couldn’t hide that something was troubling him.
“I don’t know how the last generation of lawyers got anything done after a two-martini lunch. I am barely able to function after half of a beer,” I joked.
“To be fair, you don’t function so well when you are stone sober,” he said. His good natured jab lightened the mood, and Stuart began to talk about what was on his mind.
“Something is bothering me alright. A young lawyer asked me to meet a client with him for a new case,” he said.
“What kind of case?” I asked.
“Good question. I asked him that very thing because I wanted to know what was going on before a client meeting. I hoped to bring something to the table, I didn’t want to look like a potted plant. Turns out, that is exactly what I was. The young lawyer wasn’t interested in my participation in the conversation, he just wanted me there when he met the client.”
“I don’t get it. He wanted moral support from an experienced and respected lawyer. Why would that bother you? I usually get asked to leave when those meetings are happening, not join in!” I said.
“He didn’t want me there for moral support. He wanted me to be a visual prop, something to give the client confidence that this young man could handle his case. I was supposed to be old man eye candy. Even worse: cataract candy.”
My friend’s sour mood made sense to me now. Had he not had a laugh at my expense earlier, I might have let him off the hook, but the gloves were off. And to be honest, had he not insulted me, I still would have ribbed him. I started to laugh.
“What is so funny?” Stuart asked.
“My friend, describing yourself as eye candy is a bit generous. You are more liverwurst sandwich than candy. Wait! You are eye prunes!”
He laughed now as well.
Besides being known as an author for his award-winning book “Getting to No”, Stuart is a talented inventor. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get credit and other people create the things he envisions without even knowing he exists. I’ve lost count of the Great Thomas Ideas that other people have turned into reality. However, even I could see the wheels turning on this idea.
“Maybe Eye Prunes could be a thing. Old lawyers work as mediators or lecturers when they don’t want to practice law anymore, rather than just sit home. Hiring ourselves out to young lawyers to help them land new clients would take even less effort than practicing law.”
Without warning, Stuart got up from his chair.
“Are you off to the patent office to get this locked up?” I asked.
“Nope. I’m off to use my pillow as a prop. For my head, while I nap. Even a high fiber dried plum has to take a break sometimes.”
And with that, he was out the door. I finished my beer and ventured out shortly after. It was still rainy outside, but nearly as gloomy.
©2019 under analysis llc. under analysis is a nationally syndicated column. Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St Louis, Missouri. He aspires to be an eye prune someday. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to Under Analysis via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.