Ms. Kitty recently wrote a thoughtful post about Ego and Ministry that probably set me up to be thinking this way, so I should credit her right from the start.
Tonight, in my smallest class, we informally argued out the issues in a case out of the Massachusetts district court where a Rastafarian who worked at Jiffy Lube sued for religious discrimination since Jiffy Lube instituted a professional appearance policy and gave him a position with no customer contact because he said his religion forbade him from following the policy.
(One wonders how a Rastafarian got past the drug test that insurance companies make the employers of those who use power tools administer, but my professor has already talked to us about not arguing issues that aren't in the case, so I bring that up here instead.)
We divided into teams. I was put on Jiffy Lube's side. The Rastafarian's team went first, and their central argument showed they either missed a small fact of the case, or took a gamble that we'd missed it.
Either way, they lost.
As I heard the argument, I remembered the fact. I paged through until I found the fact, circled it and calmly handed my copy of the case printout to my group's token extrovert, who was arguing our case for us. She looked very excited, showing it to the people sitting near her.
When it was our turn to argue our side, she began by demolishing the other side's position before moving on to ours. She's really smart and really quick on her feet and she absolutely made the most of what I'd given her. But when the debate was over, it was me everybody was thanking and smiling at.
It had been, at most, a fifteen-minute exercise. But having handed the other team their asses so thoroughly felt wonderful. As I packed up my stuff and left the room, I felt like I'd been shot up with morphine. I glided out to my car, feeling stupid for being so happy, but victory was still a lot of fun. I tried to call LinguistFriend on my way home, but he wasn't there. (He should consider this his invitation to dish if he had a hot date.)
My joy in this is, of course, rooted in insecurity. I'm still a little creeped out by an interaction I overheard in property class that went something like
"Pleased to meet you, I'm Montgomery. Hey... Where did you go to school?"
"Really? Me too!"
(I believe that's word for word other than the names.)
So yeah, that aspect made this all feel especially good to the girl from St. Andrews Presbyterian College.
I'm troubled at how much I liked it, though. First off, my impression is these little debates happen with varying degrees of formality throughout law school. I will face a lot more of them, and I am totally aware that sometimes I'm going to lose, so getting addicted to that feeling is asking for trouble.
Part of this is probably rooted in my good Calvinist upbringing and mistrust of anything I like too much, but I also know I've seen the people who get off on this stuff, and I really don't want to be one of them. Being dependent on external validation, to say nothing of the sort of external validation that comes from besting other people in insignificant competitions, seems so cheesy to me, but there I go.
One of the attorneys at my firm and I were talking last week and I made reference to what I mistakenly said was the McNaghten rule, which she pointed out was properly pronounced "M'Naghten." She said almost everybody makes that mistake and if I can keep the proper pronunciation in mind, I will look "Smarter than the average bear."
With apologies to Yogi, I realized at that moment that I was A-OK with being the average bear in class discussions, though being a superior sort of bear when it comes to test-taking would be nice. But fundamentally, I'm still pleased to be a bear at all.
Well, unless I'm remembering a debate-winning fact and kicking ass, and then I get all warm and fuzzy about it, and feel goofy for feeling that way.
I'm guessing this too will pass.
off to hibernate for a few more hours before work.