Ben Goshi thought his girlfriend, Kate, had
gone insane. They were having one of those arguments that only
loving couples can have—there was no milk in the fridge and somebody was responsible. In the old days, Kate would have ranted and
raved until one of them, Ben, made the run to Circle K.
However, ever since Kate started law school two years ago, she
had elevated arguing to an art form. Her finely crafted attacks blew
past Ben’s feeble defenses like a karate master pummeling him at
will. Ben felt more honored than aggrieved to be the recipient of
the latest and greatest in legal rhetoric supporting her well-reasoned attacks upon his woefully inadequate logic.
“It was obviously your fault,” she concluded. She had told him
it was good exam strategy never to jump to any conclusion in a fact
pattern, but this did not seem to apply to significant others.
“How can you be so sure of that?” During the O.J. trial, Ben
had heard that in trial you should never ask a question you did not
know the answer to, but he was desperate now.
“Res ipsa loquitur,” she cooly replied.
It was bad enough in English, but now she invoked Latin on
him like a magical death phrase.
“The thing speaks for itself,” she translated, as if that would help
“You mean the milk squealed on me?”
“No, milk does not naturally run out by itself. Someone has to
drink it. I was at law school studying all day while you were at home
writing, and you always have a glass when you’re working. Ipso
facto, you need to make the milk run.”
As he lay on his back, smarting from her all-out victory, he won-
dered if she would deign to explain the move that incapacitated him
so, only slowed down for viewing like a stadium scoreboard replay,
clearly showing how she had finished him off—”Honey, I hit you
with the Milk Doctrine. You never had a chance.”
Ben could not believe this was the same sophomore he had met
in college when he was a senior, the same confused, idealistic young
woman who couldn’t decide whether to study science or art. He
had always thought her shy but sensed an unbridled energy just
under the surface. Eventually, she majored in chemistry with aspi-
rations for medical school, at least until she got her first sight of
someone else’s blood, and decided to switch to research instead.
Ben graduated with honors in English and history, and became
an assistant editor of a free weekly local newspaper so he could keep
working near the university and be close to Kate. In his free time,
he still played his favorite computer games and was writing a
science fiction–fantasy novel, but told his friends he was doing
research for an historical novel about murder in the Medici court of
Renaissance Florence. In the meantime, while his computer science
friends fiercely fought for jobs with stock options, he happily sought
forbearance from his student loan institution.
Kate had done much better with science. She graduated in chemistry and went to work for a biomedical research firm. Ben admired her
for developing and testing new drugs that would eventually save lives,
and from the standpoint of a liberal arts major, was astounded that
someone could actually use what they learned in college to earn money.
However, despite her success, she held on to her college Tercel as
tightly as her ideals while all her other friends had moved up to entry-level, status-symbol Audis and Accords. Ben flattered himself to think
that she was content to live his simple lifestyle, devoting herself to science while saving money for their future. Little did he know, she was
saving for something much more.
“Ben, there’s something I have to tell you,” she said.
He froze, thinking the worst—she was leaving him, she had had an
affair, her mother was dying …
“I’m going to law school.”
It was much worse than he thought.
“But you are a productive member of society, doing something for
the good of mankind,” he protested. “Why do you need law school?”
Her answer was as concise as a chemical formula, or in her newly
desired profession, as pithy as a good closing argument, resonating over
and over in the minds of a hapless jury. “The law is better at protecting
a drug than medicine is at making one.”
Now, as Ben glanced over at Kate, still on the milk issue, he sensed
his inadequacy facing the real world unequipped with the legal training
of logical offensive and defensive tactics. Kate had yet to put forth
a good biomedical patent, but her highly honed scientific brain was
easily transformed into a finely tuned legal mind.
It started off innocently enough. Ben actually liked the first-year law
students he had met with Kate at the happy hour parties. Ben was
impressed with how diverse they were, but with one commonality; as
Seinfeld once said, they had decided to take the time to read the
instructions to the game of life. Next to them, Ben felt he was still playing Monopoly and never knowing there was no natural right to be
compensated for landing on Free Parking (just local rules); or that you
could make a deal to stay out of jail and avoid the shame of not passing Go and collecting two hundred dollars (though if you did, you’d
have to give a third to your lawyer, which still seemed like a lot, even
in Monopoly money).
When Kate reached her third year of law school, she worked part-
time for a big law firm with real cases. Ben marveled at her desk, cov-
ered with imposing six-way legal folders full of papers. He wondered
how things could ever get so complicated. Each folder had a little yel-
low stickie on top with notes to herself: “Prepare motion,” “Consult
client.” If there was a file on their relationship, Ben thought, the stick-
ie would read, “Needs more work—file for continuance.”
Kate was defending a rich real estate broker who had mismanaged
the pensions of several retired couples and then declared bankruptcy
when he got sued. Kate explained to Ben that there was no money to
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*a supernatural transformation as witnessed through the eyes of the hoi polloi.