Wednesday, November 17, 2004

MR. SMARTY-PANTS & CO.

By Tweed

Law school is inhabited by many different creatures. Most are similar to sheep, gazelle or other herd animals. Others are more unique, like slugs or stone fish. Described below are three unique inhabitants of law school.

Mr. Smarty-Pants

Mr. Smarty-Pants (Pantsi Smarticus) is a creature whose natural habitat is law school. Mr. Smarty-Pants knows the rule of law, how to apply it and how to avoid getting a rash when doing so. He's so smart and so perky that it's hard to tell whether you want to kick him because he's so smart or because he's so perky.

Regardless, kicking him would be fun.

But always remember: anyone that in tune with the law must be deficient in most other human attributes. Mr. Smarty-Pants, for example, doesn't recognize irony, unless it's in the form of Marbury v. Madison. Mr. Smarty-Pants may join you for a beer some night, but only for one; and there's no chance of watching him get shit-faced, and slammed by the out-of-his-league hottie from the other section as he comes on to her too strong, smelling of beer, highlighter ink and vomit - not that I know about that kind of thing from personal experience - I'm just saying.

Mr. Hand-Man

Another inhabitant of law school is Mr. Hand-Man (Homo Extremitius). Mr. Hand-Man suffers from one of two delusions: Mr. Hand-Man (a) thinks he is Mr. Smarty-Pants, and has a burning desire to prove it - particularly during class, or (b) thinks his class participation is helping others. Although Mr. Hand-Man usually does not have anything remotely interesting to say, he is sure to have read the required reading and worked up a rudimentary understanding of the material, usually with the aid of highlighters, briefs and Cliff Notes.

Usually, Mr. Hand-Man is not also Mr. Smarty-Pants - but cross-polination can occur(Tweed being a case in point). And it is often difficult for young law students to spot the difference, particularly if the Mr. Smarty-Pants (or Pantses - there are frequently more than one) exhibits some of the behaviors of Mr. Hand-Man (usually only one).

One trick to spotting Mr. Hand-Man is to observe the professor's reaction to a question or response from Mr. Hand-Man. If upon hearing a response from the person you suspect of being Mr. Hand-Man the professor's facial expression changes, it is likely you have not spotted Mr. Hand-Man. Rather, you may have spotted Mr. Smarty-Pants or the other denizen of law school hallways, discussed below.

Mr. Hand-Man is usually overly friendly, which counteracts the almost overriding desire to kick him for wasting so much class-time. Mr. Hand-Man usually will toast the morning sun with you, but expect to hear his life story in mind-numbing detail.

Mr. Dumb-Ass

Another person sometimes (at least initially) mistaken for Mr. Smarty-Pants is Mr. Dumb-Ass (Assininus Stupido). This case of mistaken identity usually arises when Mr. Dumb-Ass has many of the same attributes of Mr. Hand-Man (Tweed being a case in point). Mr. Dumb-Ass is dumb. I mean really dumb. So dumb, in fact, that if you come across him, you may begin to question whether law school was the right choice for you. And you should wonder; because Mr. Dumb-Ass is so dumb, he's likely to end up on The Bench.

Mr. Dumb-Ass is fond of saying things like: "It's a violation of his national rights," and "but there was no casual connection!" While Mr. Dumb-Ass could be the perfect foil for the classroom jester - led about by a professor with a good sense of humor - pity and urges toward job retention usually stay a professor's hand.

But with all of these creatures, and the possibility that each may share attributes at any given time, how do you know who is who?

Below is a scientifically created test to determine your abilities to distinguish between these law school fauna (and, to keep things interesting, like the bar exam, choose the best answer):

1. It's the third week of class. One of your professors asks a fairly simple question about some law subject and says: "Would anyone other than X like to answer this question?"

X is a likely candidate for being:

(a) Mr. Dumb-Ass,
(b) Mr. Hand-Man,
(c) Mr. Smarty-Pants or
(d) some chick the professor wants to pork.

2. The professor asks a question; X's answer results in the following response from the Professor: "no. . . No . . . NO. . . . NO!"*

X is a likely candidate for being:

(a) Mr. Dumb-Ass,
(b) Mr. Dumb-Ass's older brother,
(c) Ms. Dumb-Ass or
(d) you.

*Actual event witnessed by Tweed, with each 'no' being emphasized by a fist pounding a desk.

3. You are reading a dissenting opinion by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.*

You are a likely candidate for being:

(a) Mr. Smarty-Pants,
(b) Mr. Hand-Man,
(c) Mr. Dumb-Ass,
(d) an eventual nominee to the US Supreme Court or
(e) the next candidate for Man of the Year of the American Masochist Association.

* Hint: the only dissenting opinions worth reading are those written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (and some by Justice Brandeis).

4. Toward the end of the year, the person sitting next to you in Torts asks the professor whether the class will be tested on the state of tort law as it existed at the time of the Palsgraff case, some earlier time or some later time. The professor responds: "You will be tested on tort law as it will exist in the 24th century. All answers to your tort exam can be found in the next Star Trek movie."

(a) You realize you're sitting next to Mr. Dumb-Ass,
(b) You laugh,
(c) You laugh and realize you're sitting next to Mr. Dumb-Ass or
(d) You are Tweed.

5. You are outside sipping coffee from a styrofoam cup and having a cigarette before class on a cold winter morning. X, who you know only in passing, walks past you and comments, "those will kill you, you know."

X is a likely candidate for:

(a) being Mr. Dumb-Ass,
(b) being Mr. Hand-Man,
(c) an early grave or
(d) elective office.

6. You are waiting outside a professor's office listening to Mr. Smarty-Pants complain that the professor did not increase his grade for class participation, as the professor said he would do. You hear the professor say: "I increased some students' grades for the quality of their class participation, not the quantity of their class participation."

You realize:

(a) Mr. Smarty-Pants is really Mr. Hand-Man!
(b) Mr. Hand-Man had you fooled!
(c) You may be Mr. Dumb-Ass or
(d) You may actually be reliving portions of Tweed's law school career!

7. Everyone you ask to join your study group says no.

(a) You are Mr. Dumb-Ass,
(b) It is the week after exams,
(c) You realize you asked only janitors or
(d) Your fly is open.

Answers (Don't cheat - go back and take the test!)

1. (a), (b), (c) or (d) - most likely (d).
2. (b)
3. (b) or (c) - there is no such thing as the American Masochist Association
4. (b), (c) or (d)
5. (c)
6. (c) or (d)
7. (b)

If you answered:

7 out of 7 correctly, you're nuts.

6 out of 7 correctly, you're close to being nuts.

5 out of 7 correctly, you may be Mr. Smarty-Pants.

4 out of 7 correctly, you have a promising career as a bus driver.

3 out of 7 correctly, you may be Mr. Hand-Man.

2, 1 or 0 out of 7 correctly, you're Mr. Dumb-Ass.

Last point: Law school is the natural habitat of these creatures and like national preserves - no hunting.

3 comments:

Audacity said...

During my first semester of Torts, I realized Mr. Timm (Does anyone actually know people's first names during the first semester?) is both Mr. Hand-Man and Mr. Dumb Ass when he raised his hand and thus spoke, "Professor, I think you have confused the issue." To which she looked quite perturbed and said, "I have confused the issue?" And then proceeded to slam this ass on the ground. Great fun.

oculaw05 said...

Thank you for the humor!

Stockton & Tweed Esq said...

Humor!?! Words of wisdom, you mean.

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