Judge Judy Never Lets Things Go
Judge Judy thinks I should be harder on my freshman composition
students. "They don't even know how to make a counterargument," she's
always saying during the daily debrief on the wrap-around couch in our
"For goodness sakes," she says. "You don't even make them read."
"I make them I read," I tell her in that defensive way guilty people
are always defensive.
"You let them watch movies," she replies, and she's right.
She's not exactly like she is on television, of course. Most days she's
a perfect sweetheart, telling funny stories about raising her children
or the first time she met George W. Bush. She'll wipe down the
counter/breakfast bar in our cozy galley kitchen and just laugh and
laugh about something some kid from Delaware said while suing his
cousin for four months back rent.
She's always telling me, "You know if it doesn't sound true, it
probably isn't"—which is pretty great advice if you think
about it. I consider it often at my freelance job writing speeches for
other people, though if Judge Judy knew I used her advice to be a
better liar, she'd go ballistic.
"Do you know how much time I spent in school?" I can hear her saying
already. "Do you think this is what my parents spent their hard earned money
paying for me to do?"
It's the same speech she gives me when she insists I break up with the
guy I'm seeing, who is always masturbating in the bathroom during his
lunch breaks. I can't even look at her when she insists on talking
about it, the way she squints the corners of her eyes, then tries to
wave the thoughts away from her face.
"We can't all just spend decades working in the family court hoping to
land a daytime television gig!" I'll eventually end up yelling through
her closed bedroom door, but when she gets in her moods, she just
doesn't listen. God knows what she does in there all night.
In the morning she'll act like it never happened, emerging from the
hall bathroom with her curls sprayed perfectly in place and her robe
creased just so. She'll wave goodbye from the street as she hops into
the studio's towncar, and I'll try to stay mad for awhile before
turning to other things.
Sarah Carson is the author of two collections, POEMS IN WHICH YOU DIE and BUICK CITY. She lives in Chicago.
See more of her work in the archive.
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