Dear Mr. Schaeffer:
I’m a 15-year-old high school freshman--female, if you must know. My Dad is a lawyer. At least, that’s what he tells people. I’ve never seen proof with my own eyes, I mean like seeing him working in a courtroom or shaking hands with a judge or anything like that. He is very high strung, though, so I guess I believe him when he says he’s a lawyer.
Lately, due to some personal problems, I haven’t been able to sleep very well. Last night, I heard a lot of sniffling-type sounds coming from my Dad’s office. I snuck up the stairs. Yep, he was in there all right. It was 3 a.m. It seemed like he was crying. He was also typing a lot, probably working on his blog. (Yes, my Dad has a blog. How totally embarrassing, but that’s my life.)
The next morning at breakfast, my Dad’s eyes were like all puffy and red. Then without any warning, he picked up his bowl of raisin bran, threw it across the room, and yelled, “I am a restless spirit crying out for help, but no one will listen!”
After that he went up to his office. He’s been in there all week. The entire family is wigged out about it, including those of us who usually ignore my Dad. What should we do?
Signed, Mortified in the Midwest
Unlike many of the letters I receive, yours is very troubling. But not for the reasons some might think. You, however, know what I’m talking about. In fact, I’d bet your new driver’s permit on it.
Yes, Mortified, I know who you are. And I suppose you think your little “prank” is pretty funny. But to stand outside my office at 3 a.m. when I was obviously in the middle of preparing a post for the next morning--well, I don’t appreciate it, to put it mildly. It’s not the sort of conduct I’d expect from my own daughter.
To make matters worse, you stretch the truth in a way that's becoming increasingly troublesome to me. It’s like the other night when you said your homework was done, but it wasn’t. In fact, you were only trying to get me to agree to watch Angel with you and your younger siblings. Now you’re at it again. Obviously, young lady, I do not cry in my office. My eyes are rarely red and puffy. When I threw the cereal the other day, I said nothing about being a “restless spirit.” What I actually said was, “I can’t stand this goddamn soy milk!”
I know it hasn’t been easy for you growing up in a family where you have to see more lawyers in a day (two) than most people see in a year. I have always tried hard to shield you from the uncomfortable realities of my law practice, things like removal petitions, class action objectors, and motions for Rule 11 sanctions. As a result, you’re very sheltered. But don’t take liberties with me. Soon you'll be graduating from high school, and you’ll go out into the real world and learn what people really think about plaintiffs' lawyers like your father. What happens to you then will make the end of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” seem like a grade school picnic.
You see, sweetheart, things aren’t so easy for your father these days. He only wanted to help people, but now everyone’s saying that he and his colleagues are responsible for all the ills of society--insurance companies raising their rates, schools shutting down the playgrounds, doctors leaving town.
I guess it’s true: I am a little depressed. Here’s what I want you to do. Finish your homework, let the dog out, and then join me in my office. I’m not ever coming out. When you come up, please bring me a bag of chips and three Budweisers. We’ll play a little backgammon, check out some stock quotes, see what’s on MTV. Meanwhile, the rest of the world can go to hell.
Your father, Evan Schaeffer