Thursday, June 08, 2006

Why the nosering in my heart will always have a dildo

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I'm trying to process the dinner I had tonight with gf's colleague and her husband, a philosophy PhD who now works for a big law firm in the city. It was a lovely dinner, lively conversation, great food. I was impatient to meet him because I hoped he would have all the answers for me. Was law a good change? Was he happy? Did he regret the self he left behind? WAS there a left behind self? What was his life like? What did he want?

I had heard about Philosopher before--his corporate law job is a big part of why he and Colleague have a lovely condo where they can keep their gorgeous Labrador Retriever siblings, one black and one golden. He went to Elite University Law School. I don't know what I thought he would look like, but I imagined a preppy guy, a little impatient, being genial to his wife's friends.

When I met him I was surprised. He looks more like Beck, but with a stronger chin,and a touch of the young Mick Jagger, only with big, breathtaking green eyes. He wears his bangs long and in his face, and he pulls at them with his pale hands. He has a skinny rocker body. This is the face of corporate law? I thought, feeling like maybe I wouldn't be such a sore thumb lawyer after all, with my four holes in one ear, my wide-gauge barbell earrings, my nose ring, my platinum spiky hair. I know I can't look like this in a law office but still, I will always be wearing a nose ring in my heart, not literally in my heart but in my fantasy of myself. So maybe Philosopher Beck Jagger could go to super-conservative Elite U Law and still keep his rocker soul intact.

I was bursting with questions and he answered them all patiently. He spoke of how going to such a conservative place was really interesting because he could be around people who disagreed with his politics. Then he admitted that some of the economic theory had gotten to him, changed his ideas. I asked him if he had felt alienated trying to keep intact in such a setting. He considered my question as if it had never occurred to him before. I asked if things had gotten better for women there, since Elite U has long had a reputation as NOT a great place for women law students. He told me half the students were women, and that he had lots of women professors.

He got most animated when he spoke of the law clinics at Elite U and how they had convinced him to drop his dream of becoming a law professor and dedicate himself to litigation instead. Colleague told how he had done 300 hours of pro bono work and gotten it all to count towards billable hours, even though the limit is 75.

At dinner we got talking about my job writing encyclopedia entries about dildos and such. He asked me what was interesting about dildos. I talked about the feminist sex wars, the lesbian sex radicals and dildo enthusiasts, the breakaway leather community. He asked why lesbians wanted dildos when they were repulsed by cock. When he said cock, I think gf and I both jumped in our seats. Colleague, GF and I tried to explain that dildos and "cock" had nothing to do with each other. I tried to offer that the insistence with which some lesbians maintain the distinction between cocks and dildos is sometimes unconvincing, if politically expedient. In the back of my mind I was wondering whether any of the stuff I know about gender and sexuality would be useful in my new life. Feminism, maybe. But dildos?

After dinner colleague and GF talked shop, and lawyer Beck sweetly offered to give me his old 1L hornbooks, which was quite amazing, as they are expensive and he didn't even write in them very much. He gave me a lot of them. Looking at all his philosophy books in the livingroom, with very few law books to be seen, I asked him whether he felt that he had let a part of himself go, or whether he felt it was still with him. He told me it was still with him.

Ten minutes later it was time for us to go. Colleague said goodbye and we walked out with Philosopher Lawyer, me staggering under the books, he walking the dog, gf going on ahead to the car, all of us looking away from each other, all of going quietly in different directions down the street. GF was looking for the car. Lawyer Beck was on his way to bed, already dreaming of another job and another time when he spend more time on the underdog and less time paying off his student loans. I was wondering what the future would hold, as I always do these days.


Hilaire said...

You know, I think it'll be great for you. And there are plenty of ways for you to bring the past in, I'm sure. In my city there are a few lawyers who specialize in sex radicals, so to speak. They're fab. Also, I have a few lefty friends who are lawyers - even ones who work at big, corporate firms, like your Beck friend. They all get to do work that they find meaningful. They find a niche and make a name doing what they care about - union-side labour law, or constitutional challenges on important social issues. It seems to me that what they get a charge out of is the feeling of making very concrete change. So different from most teaching, that way - and so gratifying. It'll be great - weird, of course, but great.

Stewgad said...

I think the thing about law school is that it can be hard to hold on to your ideals and beliefs in an environment that doesn't reward them. ... Oh, but wait, I don't need to tell you that, do I? It's not like academia was all that supportive of your ideals and goals. And, you came through that wiser, sadder, maybe, but from what I can tell, with your beliefs and ideals intact. Maybe even reinforced. You'll survive law as well, and I suspect, go on to do great things.

Winter said...

I'm sure a thorough knowledge of dildos will always be useful. I wonder if anyone's written a book yet.

Stephanie In English Too said...

I'm delurking to say: 1. I love your blog; 2. If you're going to go to big instate law school, come and hang around with me and my girlfriend on our front porch. We can have snacks and be gay, or have wine and be merry, or both.

Sfrajett said...

Thanks Stephanie! I will. Write me at and I will write you back. And if you have any ideas about good places to live in and around big instate law school, that would be great too!