• Kids,  Law School,  Life

    What Rocks My (Consumer) World: the one that overuses the word “amazing”

    Joan JettI want to complain out loud, right now, but I’m not. Because I’m going to read at least three articles for my Note and organize my iCal and my Google calendar. I do not have time to complain. About the kid who “has style, it’s just not yours” which is said while she’s dressed head-to-toe in an outfit I put together for her, half of which is mine. Or should be. Lately I’ve been channeling Joan Jett, which goes very well with this child’s style. Sure, she doesn’t like or wear everything I do, but I know her style. She robs my closet.

    I let her try on my Victoria’s Secret Blue London pencil jeans (because if I see one more American Eagle swoosh-like thing on a back pocket I will burn my own), and I proceeded to put together her current outfit: the great Miss Sixty faux-leather motorcycle jacket (that I can borrow and I thought would look amazing on her and it does), her long sleeved black tee (I have my own already, thanks), and new (Thanks to who? Me. Yes, me.) short-sleeved Brad Butter tee to go over that. I suggested the black knee-high boots with tucked-in jeans and my burgundy multi-strand necklace. I would wear this outfit – and might I say that we both look good in it.

    I similarly brought this child home a white long-sleeved tee with a black “I’m in love with a fictional vampire” short-sleeved tee to go over it (I’m totally borrowing this, I don’t care how ubiquitous it is) and a Tryst brown and aqua long-sleeved tie-dyed tee . . . mmm, no. That is now mine. I look good in that shirt. With my brown scrunch knee-high boots? Give me back the Blue Londons.

    Clearly, my point is that I have great style I am the definition of über-hip she’s just unthinkingly reactionary as are all 14-year-olds you don’t define your style as Anti-Mom while you are dressed in your mom’s stuff. Moron. But I’m not complaining. It gives her something to say and sometimes (read: never) she’s just too quiet. I just hope she looks good today and tomorrow. (And I know she will, because I freaking dressed her.)

    However, what rocks my Consumer World today is the point of this post:

    (1) Sherlock Holmes. This is an enjoyable movie. Do it again, Guy. Do it again.

    (2) My new coat. I can’t stop touching it. It is in charcoal and It. Is. To. Die. For. The Coat

    Aside, from Dinner at Eight, Frasier:

    Niles Crane: Oh, oh-oh-oh, the food is to die for!

    Martin Crane: Niles, your country and your family are to die for; food is to eat.

    And then, like Oprah, I have a few favorite things:

    (3) My B. Makowsky Rebel bag. I can’t stop touching it. It’s amazing. The leather. The hardware. I’m bringin’ back big bags. (To my gay friend: “Look, look: I look like Nicole Richie in pencil jeans with a bag two sizes larger than I am!” Gay friend scrunches nose. “This is not a good thing.”) This bag, though? Good thing. He’s an idiot. Beloved, but even so.

    Bayamo Drs Bag(4) My Samsonite Black label Bayamo Doctor’s Bag. You shouldn’t stop touching it. (I did not, however, pay an exorbitant amount for it. But I might have. It’s that amazing.)

    (5) Mittens and gloves, fingerless (warm and you can still do things with your phone – what is not to love?) and standard: long winter white fingerless mittens (like these), short black fingerless gloves, sorta long black leather gloves and I’m still looking for the right pair of opera length black leather gloves.

    For the love of … It’s about information and affirmation of existing standards. Comforting noises, even.

    Oy! Like all Law-Students-Writing-A-Note, I have Law-Student-Writing-A-Note Tourette’s. Halfway through writing this entry, that sentence – the idea really – begs me to write it down and translate it to a page and a half, if I’m good, of quasi-indecipherable language and like every Law Student who is only 17 pages into the 30 quasi-indecipherable ones required, I wrote it down right where I stood, which is here on this very page, lest I lose it. Or right where I reclined. Which is in bed. In pajamas. It’s very, very snowy out.

    Oh look. It’s the genesis of Law-Student-Writing-A-Note ADD: something shiny! (Psst – it’s the hardware on my B. Makowsky. Yeah, baby.)

  • Law School

    Once Again

    Facebook explodes. No one is drinking. I don’t think anyone is g-chatting, even. Law students everywhere frantically study for finals and review their class notes (the night before their Trial Ad final) hoping to find something within that illuminates the whole semester.

    The last three Trial Ad class sessions in which I took notes:
    (You know, this was a demonstration class, rather than lecture and that means something for our purposes, here.)


    IL Rules of Professional Conduct 2010

    3.6 and 3.8

    Instructions are an adversary proceeding. Look in pattern jury instruction books. IL: if there is a pattern jury instruction, judge must give that instruction. If not one, judge must be convinced instruction accurately states the law.
    Beckett wrote his own jury and trial limiting instruction.

    Must have an original instruction and THREE copies. You’ll waive jury error instruction on appeal if you don’t have that “preserve the record” thing at the bottom. God, I hope this is boilerplate somewhere.

    Jury gets the packet without the “record” thing. The judge gets the record one.

    10/23/09 Free Press stuff:

    10/30/09: Tell him who your partner is for Spring, whether you want civil, crim. P/Fail not graded. Jury trial.


    I hope we’ve learned our lesson, boys and girls.

  • Law School

    I Want A Lawyer

    Sick I have the flu and this is my bed, right now. What is missing from this photo is me, pretty freaking sick, with four-hour-old Pibb Extra and 40-minute-old Shiner Bock to my right. In this photo, I’m partial to the boxes of Benadryl and Actifed, Hint of Lime Tostitos, Kleenex and iPod.

    I’d give details on the competition (we won; we lost) but as you can see, I’m supposed to be reading. Apparently Trial Techniques, Criminal Procedure, poetry, a Lexis outline of Crim Pro, and my notes from my first and for my second meeting with a real doctor for my fake Counseling, Fact Investigation, and Interviewing class. Well, the class isn’t fake. The meeting we’re both attending is fake. I keep using that word.

    Aside: The best thing I learned all semester1 was that “You have the right to remain silent” is not the Right You Want. What you really, really want to say is “I want a lawyer.” No “maybe.” No “I should talk to a lawyer.” No. Get serious with this. Feel it: “I want a lawyer.” This is when better protections attach. ← You want better protections to attach. And go ahead and repeat it. Anything special happens, like the police move you to a new room, it cannot hurt to say it aloud for kicks.2 Do not mess this up and then come crying to me.3

    More later. Srsly. But I have to get better and have so much to do before my first final next Friday.

    1Okay, in the last week, and far beneath “Sit down and shut up,” of course.

    2I’m kidding. It could hurt. And how embarrassing to be known as The One Who Repeats Himself Needlessly. Say it aloud anyway.

    3This just makes me homesick for Arkansas. I remember the day my brothers very seriously told me to always ask, “Am I being detained?” If not, then shut up and leave. (The trick you go to law school for is knowing what it means when the cop says, “Why, yes. You are.”)

  • Law School,  Life

    Trial Team Practice II

    Alright, we have sound. But we were dead Friday night. Utterly lame, tired, pained, not in a courtroom. However, this is Conor’s cross of his actual co-counsel playing a hostile witness and she is good at what she does to both Conor and Eric. Conor says, “This is horrible.” Eric: “I feel your pain, man.” Naoshi can destroy either of them with a few sentences.

    To explain just a bit – Eric and I are the Defense team for competition. Conor and Naoshi are the Plaintiff’s team. During competition, we four will not face each other, but the Defense team will serve as favorable Plaintiff’s witnesses, and the plaintiff team will serve as our favorable witnesses. The non-favorable witnesses will be played, at competition, by other teams therefore we four give each other a hard time on cross so nothing will surprise us. This leads to the most amusing moments we have, actually.

    A few moments from this incredibly poor round:

    (1) My response to the judge, which is really in response to Conor: 0:11-0:13. “Any objection, counsel?” “None, Your Honor.” “Except it’s a waste of time.”

    (2) 2:19-ish I cannot begin my re-direct. Just blanked. I walk over to Eric and say, “Gimme a sentence.” “A sentence?” “Yes. How does this start?”

    (3) 3:29 Naoshi (the witness) lists off a litany of facts favorable to my side, ending with “…scaring employees.” Eric begins clapping. It was a really brilliant moment, there, N.


  • Law School

    Trial Team Practices

    What we have here is the gold standard in stressed-out procrastination. I won’t fit in a skirt tomorrow after this – I’m moving on to tortilla chips with lime. I wonder if we have beer…

    So Magnolia has me thinking I want to intimidate people. If at all possible.

    Ha ha*. I kid. Mostly. There are a couple of other Southerns in my sphere right now and it appears that one advantage of the southern charm is that the other side just likes us and begins to spill in deposition, expert interviews, etc., and then we can go for the jugular in the nicest possible way in the courtroom. The two times I’ve needed this advantage thus far this semester, I’ve had it.

    At any rate, I was able to edit my trial team videos. (It only required $29.99. Not that I assume anyone other than fam wants to watch videos of me or Trial Team practice, but I’m a gawker by nature, so maybe you are too – my aunts definitely are), and I think two things:

    (1) I am more commanding without the voice. And when not pumping up the hair.

    (2) I am more commanding when I know the case. In theory. One takes Trial Team more seriously. Apparently not seriously enough to record /sound/, the whole point of the exercise, but whatevs. Watching action and movement in the well of the courtrooom is good too.

    What I love about this video is Conor just about to object and then not, me grabbing things from and off of opposing counsel/’s desk (because that is so real), and Eric and Conor’s “Is she still going” poker faces. This was a thirty minute vid.


    The next video is Eric cross-examining a witness. We cross up close and personal to both witness and jury. We direct from behind the jury. This video is short and just shows standard practice, really.


    This one is really just for us and is therefore not cut down to a reasonable length. Cross-exam / objection mannerisms / laughter. 2:02-3:45 Extended objection by Conor.


    You know, I think the whole Nancy Grace thing is coming. Watch for it.

    *If, in reading this, you are uncertain as to whether a specific statement is meant seriously or not, simply apply this rule of thumb: If the statement makes you consider filing a lawsuit, I was kidding. Ha ha! – Dave Barry

  • Law School

    Four Letters: Pibb, Cute, and Then Some

    I’m busy. And apparently competent. To stand for sandbagging, as my fabulous professor put it.

    2L Bites. Hard. I didn’t know this. So I’ll tell you something you don’t want to hear: I don’t think in sentences that don’t include four-letter-words any more. Sometimes that’s the only part of the sentence I get out. I believe how I put it was: Law school has simultaneously expanded my vocabulary and reduced it to a series of four letter words.

    I go days without doing anything but sitting in front of a computer. I go weekends without responding to emails and saying anything more than “Go. away.” to people. I want to see “Paranormal Activity,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” and I can not miss whatever the second “Twilight” movie is, but until they start playing these movies at 1:00 A.M. downtown, I’m out. I no longer want to read. I never thought this possible. (I also never thought I’d fondly remember 1L and long for the good old days.) I am interested in books the way I’m interested in art and music that I no longer get to look at or listen to. What a lovely idea. I do get out, though. Because I now understand why we drink.

    Because, not unlike right now, my head’s gonna explode. Because I should not be doing this, but should be writing a direct exam, two closing arguments, and the rough draft of a note. However, if you’d seen the various other ways I’ve blown a perfectly good “working” morning, you’d wonder why I wasn’t updating the blog on 2L. So, a few notes for the memories –

    My videos are getting better for whatever _that’s_ worth…

    I taught myself a while back to forego “ums” when speaking professionally by popping my wrist with a rubber band. Low-rent but effective. I’m going to have to start doing that and like, now, to stop the “Shellie Stephen-zzzz, for the Defen-zzzz.”

    (This particular video is an opening statement. The class is pass/fail and I finally realized I was spending too much time on this class. I want the skillz, but I must prioritize. Fifteen people in this class. A bazillion at Trial Team competition in a few weeks. (That just made me physically ill.))

    Speaking of “like, now,” my latest review from the head coach on Trial Team practice: “You said “totally not troubling” – my goodness! You might as well have said ‘like totally not troubling’”. I laughed out loud.

    And speaking of laughing out loud, at a recent Trial Team practice (10-25-09), I videoed my partner, Eric, and myself but they are thirty minutes long (no sound) and these .movs will not import into iMovie so I can cut them and make a perfectly hilarious montage with music or sound effects. The first few minutes of “Mime Trial Team” has me in highly animated form, talking to the team about something very important, I’ve no doubt, then flipping my head over and pumping my hair for my performance. It’s all about what matters. (Edited: this is now edited and on youtube; url edited above. Still sans sound.)

    I’ve got thoughts on Learning Sneaky Lawyer Tricks and How I Now Love Them and Use Them Mercilessly, How I Talk to Everyone in Cross-Examination Form, and Becoming So Liberal You Should Put Me On House Arrest Now Because For the Love of Cthulhu We Do Not Kill People On My Watch.

    It’s only by the grace of Pibb Extra and the woman who assures me my paranoid ideation is cute that I’m getting by these days. Srsly.

  • Law School

    So How Many Cameras Are Actually On You?

    For the love of all that’s holy, have you ever had to watch three videos of yourself a week? Don’t. Or, only if you must. My classes are tailored to trial law this semester. I have CFI: Counseling, Fact Investigation, and Interviewing (dealing with clients); Trial Advocacy: study of trial practice and one night per week simulations at the county courthouse; and Trial Team, that competitive team thing. Each of these classes record me. Practical Shelle is enthused at the prospect of getting better and having the tape to prove it by semester’s end. Shallow Shelle is practically in pain watching the videos.

    Perfectly frank: people tell me I’m good at this. My classmates have said I’m “great,” “totally believable,” and “You handled that rape victim so well – you were so soothing, credible – it sounded like ‘Honey, you’re just mistaken. It wasn’t my client, but some other monster.'” I sincerely appreciate it. What they mean though, I think, is that I will be good at this. Because right now, watching my past three video assignments hurts.

    What am I doing with my hands? Did I just nod in response to that witness’s BS answer?!? Whatever I’m doing with my head looks like a tic. I’m rushing my questions. Me in a suit – The Ghost and the Darkness. Am I wearing make-up? I’m washed-out. I’m not convinced I have a chin anymore. I think of Friends, The One with the Prom Video: Monica: “The camera adds ten pounds!” Joey: “So, how many cameras were actually on you?” Ally McBeal was invisible. The cameras created all thirty pounds of her.

    My videos, thus far:

    (1) New client intake: you think the fact that my client was naked with her paramour on the living room couch while the welfare worker walked in and her two and four year old daughters played on the floor might come out at the custody hearing? Yeah, me too. That would have been a handy bit of information to elicit. But, Ms. Jones said she really trusted and liked me. w00t.

    (2) First closing argument: “You don’t have to believe the veterinarian’s testimony that the dogs were not abused and in fights. It’s not reasonable to believe Micah Victor didn’t know about the dog fighting operation. You don’t have to believe her testimony because she stands to lose 75% of her business, her pro-bowler boyfriend, and her professional license. She has a stake in the outcome of this trial.”

    We’re going kind of strong here for a first argument, yeah? That can be remedied.

    “You don’t have to believe her. You aren’t going to lose your license. At the end of the day, you’ll get to keep your license to be a . . . juror.” We have minor internal WTF? moment. I’d like to tell you I stopped there.

    I’m not going to be entirely too hard on myself – this closing argument was eight minutes long, had to be given without notes, and was on a case I’d looked at for a couple of days. Hard to do. I did manage to work in a Cat Woman analogy which Coach liked: “Your neighbor has six cats? You think she likes cats more than you. Your neighbor has 16 cats? You wonder where she keeps them. Your neighbor has 26 cats? Does she moonlight? How does she pay for the kitty litter? Your neighbor has 66 cats – you call someone and complain. And that’s exactly what happened. Sixty-six dogs on the Micah Victor compound – the neighbors complained.” Emphasizing “it’s not reasonable” was also effective.

    (3) Cross-examination of rape victim: The One Question Too Many. My theory? She’s mistaken. The victim only “named” him after being attacked and given drugs at the hospital to help her relax. She says it was the man who made an improper advance on her the night before in a bar. I theorize he may be inappropriate, but he’s not her rapist. She only identified him when she was asked to come to court to identify a potential suspect and saw him standing next to the bailiff and sheriff. Bias confirmation. I get going on the identification only coming hours after the attack and after the administration of drugs. I add (which was particularly effective, the attorney tells me, or was, until I refused to stop):

    Me: You’re a student at NITA University? Do you have student privileges? Library? Cafe?”

    Witness: “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.”

    This is good.

    Me: Are you aware that my client is a student at NITA University?”

    Witness: “No.”

    This is bad.

    Later, our Trial Advocacy class watched the Irving Younger classic on cross-examination. Brilliant.

    Favorite take-away: “Sit down; shut up. Why? Because every minute you’re standing up, you’re f—ing up.”

  • Law School

    1L: It Was

    It’s really that much time. We really do read that much. We really do analyze what “is” means. (“Most? Most? How could he use the word “most” on a true/false exam question? “Most” is not a true/false kind of word. “Most reliable?” Inconceivable.) We really, really write quite a bit and stress over memos and appellate briefs for weeks. We really don’t maintain outside relationships very well. For a year, it’s hard to talk about anything but class and cases. For a lot of us.

    I think the purpose of 1L is to fundamentally alter (if necessary, and for most I’d say it is) the way you think. The statistics I read bear out that it fundamentally alters the personality of a large proportion of the students: “as many as two-fifths . . . experienc[e] severe psychological disturbances” within months of starting law school.1 I, and several of those I know and love, are still reeling in various ways.

    But we made it. And you can make it, and the best part of making it is that it’s challenging. The strategy is learning to deal. I found things that work for me and things I wish I’d known prior to law school but so much of the experience is personal that I have no idea how much can be extrapolated to the 1Ls who will begin on Monday. But I think it’s valuable to hear and play with various strategies:

    (1) Used books are fine. Last year’s edition is fine.

    I realized, after dropping $750 on books first semester that I can actually read through someone else’s highlighting and notes (which can be a gold mine, depending on who wrote them). A casebook (those big red books) is a huge book of abbreviated cases and then very few notes and questions (without answers) to get you thinking. You don’t know enough to be thinking.

    Seriously, if you buy used, you will miss some new questions and your pagination will likely be off. Buy used and then sit on the floor of the bookstore and using your syllabus, figure out what pages in your edition you need to read. IF you are missing a case, do not stress. For the love of Cthulhu, you have free access to LexisNexis and Westlaw which not only have the cases in full (the only drawback I note – the case isn’t abbreviated so there’s more to read/skim) but they’ve briefed the case for you too.

    Second semester, I dropped $150 and bought my books on Amazon used. I gently pried off the red hardback cover, paid $3.00 to have Kinko’s chop off the page binding (the glue) and then sat for an hour and 3-ring hole-punched two of my red casebooks. Each week, I just carried around the pages we were gonna read and discuss. My back felt better instantly. You have no idea how much weight you’re gonna be carting around in casebooks. One book I left intact – Dressler’s Crim Law because it’s not a real big book anyway. Maybe twice was a case referenced that I’d left at home. No. big. deal. You may think you want to keep your casebooks forever. You don’t. Don’t.

    (2) You can brief cases if you want. I don’t.

    It’s a valuable skill, no doubt. You don’t have time if you want to sleep during the first six weeks when you’re learning to write and research. LexisNexis briefs each case using the precise language from the case itself. Westlaw’s briefs are in Westlaw’s paid lawyers words. In class, you’re gonna want the case words. Go over the Lexis headnotes which are the rule(s) you’re looking for.

    In your class notes, copy/paste from Lexis or Westlaw the things you want briefed. Read the facts (in the beginning, profs love to quiz you on the facts you don’t even remember reading) and try to make short notes on each judge’s opinion. Can you sum up their opinion in a sentence of your own? Wikipedia.org is amazing at this. Well, not in your own words, but for summing up and noting major concurrences and dissents.

    During class, I keep open my notes into which I’ve copied and pasted things from the case (using Lexis) and which contain hyperlinks to Lexis, Lexis opened (new tabs for each) to the cases we’re gonna talk about, an oyez.org summary, wiki, Facebook (this is because everyone is on FB or g-chat during class) and/or somebody’s brief on the Internet I may have found. When the prof starts in on some phrase in the case, I’m doing a CTRL-F in Lexis.

    (3) You’re not going to class to be taught the Black Letter Law, per se. You’re going to class to torque Black Letter Law (BLL) and you can’t do that if you don’t know it first.

    You want supplements. This really comes before briefing, if you ask me. Look at the syllabus. Are you discussing Pierson v. Post? Look it up on wiki. Why are you reading Pierson v. Post? It’s about possession? Go grab your Crunch Time Property or Emanuel’s or Gilbert. Read them. Now, go skim Lexis and your casebook. Now you might be ready to answer casebook questions or your prof in class. This is time-consuming. But I’d do a supplement and Lexis before I’d read the casebook.

    You do have to know how to read a case and you do need it to become natural, but that process will be smoother, I think, if you know why and what you’re reading first.

    (4) The supplements you want are kind of personal. You’ll look at some and think “overkill.” And they are. For some profs, the supplement may lead you down the wrong path. Sorry to say you’ll just kind of feel your way here. I like CrunchTime because the others are overkill for 1L. Maybe your library has them. (Speaking of, your library may have your casebook and you can just read it in the library instead of buying it.)

    (5) Notetaking software: it does not matter.

    I use a Mac. If you’re on a PC, a lot of people swear by Microsoft’s OneNote. Looks like severe overkill to me. Many people just use Word to take notes. There is no point in taking class notes or book notes in outline form. Your exam outline should be an outline of your class notes. That said, I would try to outline each section of the syllabus when you finish it in class. End of semester is a hard time to completely outline a course. But, I managed and I never quite outlined before the last two weeks. Look at outlines online and you’ll see what people do. (Just found this blog draft from last semester: Finals begin a week from Thursday. Con, Crim, Prop. I’ve got two mostly finished outlines and one that I swear looks like I just began it tonight.) (Ha.)

    I use OpenOffice on my Mac and am very happy with it. I save everything in .doc and can easily share with classmates and can easily (easily!) make a PDF if I want.

    (6) Back everything the freak up. Use Dropbox. Use Mozy. Use Google docs. Email your notes and outline to yourself. Back it up. I mean it. Don’t be this guy.

    (7) Share. Your notes or outline will not propel someone into the grade stratosphere; you can afford to share. Unless the dude is never coming to class, I share. If he’s not, I just say I don’t share. It’s a pet peeve. I’m not doing all your work, but if you miss a class or two, or need to step out, ‘s’all good.

    (8) The issue isn’t always black and white. Listen to other people – their arguments are going to come in handy on the exam when you need to see both sides.

    (9) Don’t sweat the questions in class. None of us knew the answer and we were all just glad we didn’t get hit with the question. Unless you’re a gunner, we are so not laughing at you.

    (10) For the love of Cthulhu, do something social with your class: beer darts, softball, whatever-it-is-you-do-in-groups besides drink (that’ll be a natural occurrence for most of us in law school).

    Ran out of time on this, but a lot of stressing occurred over this year as I look back over it, so I throw out there what worked for me. I wanted to add some more positive things, but I’ve got to get this up. I meet the 1L’s I’m peer advising in 2.5 hours and can not understand the new mass transit system map. Unless it means we have no service to the law school. (I think that’s what it means. I hate them. I hope they die.)

    Now Playing: When 2Ls Ruled the School.

    1See Grant H. Morris, Preparing Law Students for Disappointing Exam Results: Lessons from Casey at the Bat, 45 San Diego L. Rev. 441, 442 (May-June 2008) (citing a 1986 American Bar Foundation Research Journal study which reported that seventeen to forty percent of the alumni and students studied suffered from depression and “reported other significantly elevated symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive, interpersonal sensitivity, anxiety, hostility, paranoid ideation, and psychoticism (social alienation and isolation).”) The students were normal when they began school.

  • Kids,  Photos

    The Kids

    2009_07_05 Stephens Kids 6Favorite moment: Gwyn’s phone rings. She answers. We all stare. Kate hits her in the head.

    Gwyn storms off. Kate: Get back here. You are NOT a teenager!

    Gwyn returns.

    Me: How’s it feel to have the power to stop an entire family’s life for 7 minutes?

    (Caleb 16, Kate 18, Gwyneth (almost) 10, Corinne 14)

    (PS) The Way They Were – Japan 2006 (Gwyn 7, Corinne 11, Caleb 13, Kate 15)

  • Kids,  Life


    (1) Head games – my last fortune cookie:

    You think that is a secret, but it never has been one.

    tacori_blue(2) Cori will be 14 tomorrow. We agreed to a ring, hairstyle, and summer week-long camp as gifts. I showed her a ring that I keep admiring online. She loved it; we ordered it. Tonight I came home to a sticky note on my black dress from this morning which read, among other things: “You are the most stylish mom I know / the best. I love you so much.” Clearly, my favorite child. sticky_note

    (3) The first time I ever pumped my own gasoline I guess I was sixteen. I remember it was a station way out in the middle of nowhere. I paid, put the nozzle into my gas tank and pulled the handle. Nothing. I made quizzical faces at the young station attendant. He made gestures through the glass at me. We were at an impasse. I was certain something was wrong with his gasoline machine.

    Momentarily, he ran out and flipped the lever down and to the right. I guess I didn’t see exactly what he did. I thanked him, he ran back inside the store, and I happily finished dispensing gasoline into the car. However, when I was finished, the nozzle would not go back into place on the pump. That lever! I kept bumping the nozzle against the pump like Austin Powers doing a three-point turn. I finally laid the gas nozzle atop the pump, waved at Attendant Boy and drove off.

    2007: As my friend comes out of the gas station, I am smiling and telling the gentleman “Thank you.” Friend: “What. now?”

    Me: Look at this. BP labels their gas ‘regular’ ‘silver’ and ‘premium’. I was just asking him if regular was safe for our car or if it was leaded. ‘Regular’ threw me off.

    Friend: Were you born in 1942?!?

    (Note: Since 1996, sale of leaded gasoline for on-road vehicles is prohibited by the Clean Air Act. The move to unleaded began in 1972.)