Sinking lower

Posted on November 1, 2005


On Monday mornings I volunteer at family court. I have so far avoided blogging about this for confidentiality reasons and because there’s nothing funny about poverty and desperation, and dammit I did really become a lawyer to help people. Anyway it involves sitting in a small booth and helping people who can’t afford a lawyer fill out forms, write affidavits, that sort of thing. It’s sort of fun. We had 4 hours of training and then were sent forth to meddle in the most personal aspects of people’s lives.
The thing I love most about the Sheppard court is that they have these helpful instructional videos on divorce entitled “Separate Ways”. The cover depicts two people walking off into the distance alongside each other – turned slightly away from each other. I love it…it’s the whitest most Canadian thing ever! I’m dying to recommend it to somebody but we’re not allowed to deal with divorce and the clientele is such that were somebody to suggest such an Oprah-like thing they would be met with a look of disgust, at best.
Well, I just want to bitch about them. I’ve been as tolerant as I can but every one of their problems would have been solved by a two-second period of thought before making contact with another person’s genitals. How about a cursory question: do you have a criminal record? Have you let kids starve before? If the answer to either question is yes, slam the legs shut. Or at least use a condom, for the love of all that is holy. I understand now that blankness in the eyes of experienced poverty lawyers. And George Bush, cos he doesn’t like poor people either.
OK back to customary fluff. On Saturday my roommate’s boyfriend brought round a massive tub of dates because he wants my roommate to start eating more vegan or something. We set it on the coffee table and looked at it for a few minutes balefully. I know I’m Arab and everything and a date palm grew downstairs in the building where I grew up, but No. And she thinks they look like turds. So we put the tub in an out of the way corner of the kitchen.
On Sunday M came over. We were watching TV when out of nowhere he said, “Have you got any dates?” I was so astonished that I asked him to repeat himself. I asked suspiciously, “Did you see them in the kitchen?” He hadn’t. I wanted to accuse him of stereotyping but what’s the use? We have dates. He was overjoyed and ate some. What are the chances? A date has never entered our establishment and the day after they do the whitest guy in Canada comes over and asks for some. He has no record of date eating. It must be fate.
Today I’m sitting in the world’s most violently boring night class when I notice the neck of a guy sitting in front of me. His nape is patterned in perfect crosshatches, perfect in every angle. It wasn’t some Halloween thing either—that was just HIS NECK. I nudge the guy to my right and whisper “That guy’s neck has crosshatches! Look! LOOK!” He nods. He’d already received a previous nudge when the professor said “duty” and I poked him and repeated, snickering, “doody!” so he wasn’t at his most receptive.