Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Take This Food and Stuff It.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor set high fitness standards for her clerks.

"Male clerks planning weddings were ordered to get in shape. (One stuffed an ice cream cone in his desk drawer so she wouldn't see it.)" (J. Toobin, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, p. 39; emphasis supplied.)

This anecdote reminded me of an earlier food-stuffing incident. At my first law firm, one of the older associates showed me the ropes. Among other things, he told me about the firm's lore. He informed me that a few years before I arrived the firm employed a young attorney who evidently cowered at the sight of the senior partner.

One day this junior attorney thought he would enjoy a pizza in the law firm's library. The library had a door, and he apparently thought he would be able to eat in privacy. Unfortunately for the employee, after a couple of slices of pie, the feared name partner came into the room. Not wanting the boss to see the pizza, the eater frantically thrust the pizza box onto the top of the book shelves. He didn't realize there was a hollow space where two fixed shelves joined at a ninety degree angle. The box slid down into the oblivion of this space.

After I composed myself, I asked my new quasi-mentor what happened to the pizza. He said it was still there. He said the pizza guy tried a panoply of things to retrieve his treat including a paper clip fishing line. Nothing worked so he left it.

Part rank curiosity and part scientific inquiry into the properties of food mold impelled me to take a look at the years-old pizza. I saw the ceiling was comprised of removal tiles. I thought that if we could temporarily move the ceiling tile aside we could fit a broom down into the space and then press the box against the wall and through friction get the box out of there. It worked.

To my utter amazement, and eventual distrust of fast-food, the pizza's cheese was mostly a clear substance and the other toppings resembled their original form. There was no cloud of mold on it.

Glad it wasn't an ice cream cone.