Trial and Error

20 Feb

A week ago today I was doing my civic duty of the jury type.   I was not chosen to serve.  It was a great disappointment, because I’m one of those weird people who has always wanted jury duty.

I blame my jury desire on Mock Trial.  In High School we had an awesome Mock Trial team.  Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  We had a reasonably decent Mock Trial team.  But by the time my sister was a senior they had an awesome Mock Trial team –  Second in the State Awesome, awesome.  Then by the time our Schwester Rachel was in High School they were Super Awesome – competing at the National Level Super Awesome.

I like to think I laid the foundation for all that awesomeness.

Mrs. Rau celebrates a win, don't worry, back then a good guttural fist pull was still cool.

No, actually I don’t delude myself at all.  The Awesome Foundation for that team was our coach, Mrs. Rau.  Awesome doesn’t even really begin to cover her leadership skills.  The woman knows how to make impish, hormonal, flighty, self-centered teens focus on big tasks, work hard, and strive for superior results.

She didn’t cut us any slack, and yet at the same time she never let us appear foolish.  For me, this was a particularly important quality to have in a coach.  I’m sure you can’t possibly imagine this, but I was prone to acts of stupidity back in the day.

For instance, there was the time we arrived at a meet two hours away, only to discover I had forgotten shoes.  It wasn’t like I trekked that far in my stocking feet, but we traveled in comfy attire so as not to wrinkle our grown-up, professional, attorneyish wear.  When we donned our suits in the restrooms of the Custer County Courthouse my toes were left naked on the cold tile floor.

I don’t know what other coaches would do in this situation, but Mrs. Rau grabbed me (and not by the ear, although I’m sure she was tempted,) her purse, and the keys to the school van and off we rushed to the local TG&Y.

If you’re not from the Middle of Nowhere you’ve probably never had the TG&Y/Pamida/Alco experience.  Let me set the stage for you.  Think of Walmart*.  Now, reduce the inventory by 75% paying special attention to keep the really unusual and odd items, up the prices by 30% and add some grunge.  Now that you’re there, come down the shoe aisle.

As you can imagine, this is where you would find the really odd stuff.  But it didn’t matter, I just needed something to replace the holey Payless pleather loafers in which I shuffled.  Anything in an 8 1/2 that didn’t scream “I’m 17!” or worse, “I’m 84!,” was going to work just fine.

And then it happened – that moment when the steel-sheeted roof opened to reveal golden clouds, the fluorescent lights were replaced with a celestial glow, and the angel choruses drowned out the musak:

There were my Mock Trial Shoes.

They were gorgeous.  The unbelievable color was a deep plum that matched my boxy Mock Trial suitcoat and paisley skirt as if they were all born in the same dye lot.   The heels told all potential witnesses that their testimony was in my capable hands and feet.  The tight gold and purple knot that adorned the pumps let everyone know that when I said, “Objection”  I meant, “Objection.”

There are no pictures of the MTS. Instead, you'll have to imagine them under the bench in this doctored yearbook scan.

Mrs. Rau fronted me the exorbitant $40 and we strode out of rural retail heaven and into the awaiting trials.  My purple clad feet gave me the confidence to take on the world, or at least six other overly arrogant teenagers.

When my utilitarian Danskos and I filed into the court room last Monday, the first place I looked was to the lawyers’ shoes.  They both wore black.  Cute, but plain.  I pitied them for not having coaches as wonderful as Mrs. Rau.

Then again, maybe the Bar Exam has a No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service rule.


By Both of Us

7 Responses to “Trial and Error”

  1. Kerry at 2:20 pm #

    I would ALWAYS have to visit the TG&Y when we would visit Granny in Oklahoma. I applaud your pin-point accurate description.

    • Christina at 2:23 pm #

      Thank you. I strive to do my best to promote small town commerce.

      • Mom at 5:25 pm #

        …and you refrained from calling it TG&Yuck, which was the more frequently used title (was that everybody…or just Dad?)

      • Christina at 7:09 pm #

        It took a preternatural amount of restraint.

  2. Rachel at 10:44 pm #

    Question 1: How do I not know what TG&Y is? I spent the first 18 years of my life in the same small town you two spent your first 18 years in! What did I miss?

    Question 2: I have faux snake skin peep toe pumps with a silvery tint. Would you have approved of those lawyer shoes? The sales lady at the store told me they would look great with a classy black suit.

  3. Rachel at 10:47 pm #

    And a comment. Mrs. Rau had a greater influence in my life than I can ever explain!! I owe so much to her great coaching and mentoring, like so many of her students.


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