Back when I was a kid, going through the awkward and (seriously) ugly duckling years, I remember being jealous of the girls everyone described as being “cute”. In an attempt to make me feel better about my not-so-attractive self, I remember my mother telling me that “cute” was for puppies and kittens, and that while some of those girls were cute, cute would not last. (She was dead accurate about at least one of those girls; she grew up to be the furthest thing from cute, both in her appearance, and more importantly, in her personality. Just saying.) That conversation stuck with me, and to this day, I still bristle a little when someone calls me cute. (Parents, if you think the things you say to your kids now won’t have a lasting effect on them, I submit to you that you are wrong.)

Today I went to court and as I sat down to discuss a case with a Defendant who appeared representing himself, he looked at me and said, “You ARE cute!” Um, okay? Is that really what you say to opposing counsel? He went on to say he had had a free consultation with a local attorney who, when asked who the defendant should talk with at court, told him to “just look for the cute one — and he was right!” Nice. Under the philosophy that a compliment is a compliment, I said thank you and redirected his attention to his case, which we agreed to continue.

While in the courtroom waiting to call his case, I lined up with the other attorneys at the front of the room. Mr. Defendant was seated in the front row of the courtroom seating. He apparently was not blessed with much of an “inside voice”, because from several feet away, I heard him say, “I get to go up there with the cute attorney.” I did not hear what his conversational parter had to say, as I was trying to stifle a giggle & not let on that I had heard.

For fear that he would persist in declaring my alleged cuteness to all who would listen, when it was my turn to call cases, I called his first in an attempt to get him on his way. All went well as Mr. Defendant approached the bench. The judged asked him if he was, in fact, the defendant identified in the case. Mr. Defendant verified that he was, then looked squarely at the judge and said, “I get the cute attorney”. The judge, as if he wasn’t sure what he’s heard — and maybe he wasn’t; Mr. Defendant was a little difficult to understand — replied, “I beg your pardon?”, and Mr. Defendant repeated himself. I am pretty sure I heard giggled from the peanut gallery at that point. The judge, rather impressively, did not bat an eyelash, and I somehow managed to refrain from cracking up right then and there. Not because I like being called “cute”, but because it was freaking hilarious, and because I was already plotting the “cute” story it would make on my blog…

Based on some of the history with the attorney who planted the “cute” seed in Mr. Defendant’s head — things like trying to intimidate me by telling me he and the judge are friends from way back, to standing close enough to invade my personal space while picking up my key necklace and ogling it, among others — I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit peeved. A compliment is a compliment, though, and I appreciate the sentiment. I just wonder how “cute” Mr. Attorney will think I am when I kick his tail in court!


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