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A Defense Attorney's Words
of (Dis)Comfort

by Ashley Council

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I am a wife, mother and defense attorney in the state of North Carolina. I am also trying very hard to dip into the arena of humor writing because I greatly prefer to make people laugh rather than make them cry with the job that I currently have.

I am an attorney and I am a Southern Belle. If you’re wondering, that’s about as screwed up as the Pope going to a tent revival. Southern Belles are trained to act with impeccable manners and grace at all times. Lawyers are trained to burn the ground, salt the earth and ask questions later if they feel like it. 

Please understand that I really do try, but I am a most imperfect Southern Belle. I am glaringly missing a key element usually present in the DNA of every properly reared Southern lady: tact. Yes, boys and belles, “tact” is my ultimate four-letter word. My usual coping skill is to simply keep my mouth shut in touchy situations, but there are certain instances where I have no choice but to attempt to utter a coherent string of diplomatic words in sticky situations.

What’s my kryptonite?  For the love of God, no matter what you do, please, please, please, in the name of all that is good and holy, don’t cry.

I know that men are supposed to be the ones who freak out at tears, but I somehow missed the mushy gene. I hate tear-jerker movies and I would much rather sit through an action flick. Oprah gives me hives. The Hallmark Channel makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Typically, if someone starts to cry in my office, I flap my hands around like a chicken, throw a few tissues at them and screech for a warm and cuddly paralegal to come in and fix it, fix it now!

You see, boys and belles, I have tried. I have tried to bestow words of comfort upon the tearful and—although I occasionally I knock one out of the park—I usually tend to just make things worse.

“Oh poo,” you’re thinking, “she can’t be all that bad. It’s not rocket science to just pat someone’s hand and tell them that everything’s going to be okay.”

Ha! Need examples? Okay then. Here, in no specific order are:

Ashley’s Very Bad Words of Comfort

1.     To the middle-aged lady, sobbing at the notion of signing her Will: Signing this Will won’t kill you. I mean, your husband might want to since he’s the sole beneficiary and all, but North Carolina has a Slayer Statute that would keep him from inheriting your estate if he did. Well, don’t worry. It’s nothing. I certainly don’t have any plans to kill you. That I know of.

2.     To the boy in trouble for harassing his former girlfriend who lived in his dorm: Look, the good news is that you get to stay in school, but you’ve got to leave the girl alone. If it’s any consolation...look...have you had your eyes checked? I’m just gonna come right out and say it: She’s homely. You’re a good looking fella. There are jillions of prettier ladies out there and you’ll see that once you go get and you some glasses.

3.     To the gal in tearful distress at the news that her probation was being revoked because she’d failed three drug tests in a row: Look, the good thing about prison is that it’s free rehab and I would hope that you harness the wisdom to see it that way. Just avoid the heroin dealers and junk. The other plus is that the women get to wear pink instead of orange now, so yay!

4.     To the girl who came in for her first appointment, sat down and started crying without uttering a single word: Oh my good God. I haven’t even said anything yet. Are you ok? Do I need to get a paralegal? Are you crying because of the situation you came in to see me about or did I do something to make you cry? You’ll need to stop that now.

5.     To the lady that always ended up crying after every single conversation I had with her on the telephone: (Slow and even-toned as though talking to a gunman in a hostage crisis) Okay Mrs. X, I need to have a conversation with you and I promise that it’s nothing to get upset about. The only thing in the world I need to know about is whether you were referred to Dr. So-and-So by Dr. Whatshisname. What? Wait! No! Nonononono! Stop! Stop crying right this minute! There is no reason in this world to dissolve into tears about a physician referral! Unless it involved a spinal tap or a rectal exam, I’m really sorry, but I think that you need to pull yourself together!

6.     To the tearful gentleman about to plead to shoplifting at the Wal-Mart: If having to stand in open court and plead guilty to swiping Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen lip gloss doesn’t cure you from shoplifting, then there’s no help for you whatsoever.

7.     To the hysterical drama queen who wanted a restraining order taken out on her ex (who she perceived to be stalking her) when they ran into each other in the middle of the canned goods aisle at the Harris Teeter: Personally, you couldn’t pay me all the money in the world to go back and relive the pre-pubescent world of junior high school. Did you actually enjoy it?

8.     To the sobbing mother of twins who just discovered that her traveling salesman husband was, in fact, unemployed and using the “traveling” part as an excuse to roam around all over and fornicate with various women: I am so sorry, but I don’t do domestic work. I am a criminal attorney, however, so if you decide to kill the S.O.B., please don’t hesitate to call upon me.

9.  To the young lady sobbing in my office, convinced that her husband was having an affair: Honey, take a step back here and look at your situation for a second. You're hot. He's not. You're really hot. He's really not. I know,I know--you say that he looks much better since he shaved off his moustache, but let me put it to you this way: You can shave a gorilla's ass, but it's still ugly.

Yeah, I don’t think Hallmark is going to be coming at me with a contract any time soon. 

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