|the judge looking particularly distinguished|
Months ago a wrote a preamble to my tribute to Judge Alex, yet real life got in the way of writing the actual tribute. I'll give it a try now, though I fear my efforts will be a bit lame.
Judge Alex came into my life at a time when I was nearly fifteen and heavily into the throes of adolescent rebellion even if I wasn't physically there yet. I used up an insane amount of the family TV's DVR space so that I wouldn't miss a single episode of his TV program. On the rare occasion that something went wrong and the day's episode didn't get recorded, I would go into a tirade.
I was eventually allowed to have a Twitter account. Soon thereafter, I discovered that Judge Alex had one as well. I doubted the authenticity of his contributions to the account, but still I read his every word, and responded at a rate that I felt he wouldn't consider overly pesky or obnoxious. As far as I could tell, he ignored my tweets, though he later said that he read and continues to read all tweets but just didn't and still doesn't have the time to respond to all of them. That's certainly understandable.
The first clue I received that Judge Alex had noticed my existence was when I announced that I would be on hiatus until final quarter grades were released because one of my A's had a minus behind it on my mid-quarter progress report. It was a teacher I did not like, and my goal had been to score the lowest possible A I could possibly earn so that it would cause the instructor great pain to give me the A. He got even by putting a minus after the A even though on official grades, minuses and pluses could not be entered. It was really a dirty trick on the instructor's part, because he knew my parents would overreact and take away privileges, but I own my part in the debacle, as I should not have cut it so close. For what it's worth, I aced the course at quarter and semester and had the highest score in the class.
Anyway, I knew about the minus after the A before grades were entered into the computer, so I announced to Judge Alex via Twitter that I would be absent from Twitter for awhile untile either my parents grew brains or until new grades were posted. He responded with, "We'll miss you, Alexis." That was all it took. It was the cyber-equivalent to feeding a stray cat. Everyone knows that once you feed a stray cat, it never goes away. I was hooked on Judge Alex for better or for worse.
Judge Alex got me through many difficult times. A few in particular stand out. My father and I were fighting over whether or not I needed to get a flu shot. My dad wanted me to have it. I, of course wanted no part of anything that involved sticking a needle into my skin. I solicited the judge's opinion as to whether or not a fifteen-year-old (I think I was saying I was sixteen at the time; I have a habit of lying about my age to make myself seem older) should have the right to make his or her own decision concerning medical matters such as flu shots. The judge gave the classic noncommital answer that it depends on the situation and the maturity of the kid, and that it should be on a case-by-case basis. My father ended up taking mattters into his own hands by sneaking into my bedroom at 5:00 a.m. and injecting me with the dreaded serum. I'm pretty sure I woke up the entire neighborhood with my tantrum. To top it off, I got a really nasty case of the flu that turned into pneumonia that year. So much for parental wisdom. The judge was kind enough to commiserate with me after the fact.
Another time in particular in which I sought the judge's assistance was a situation that sounded as though it was a plot line in a really bad sitcom -- the kind that runs for six episodes before the ratings are so low that it disappears from the airwaves forever, never to be seen or heard of again. A highly cognitively challenged but quite attractive cheerleader had asked my brother to the prom. The prom in our high school was not typically a girl-ask-boy thing, but I'm not putting the cheerleader down for bucking tradition in that regard, and I see nothing wrong with the idea that a girl asked a boy to the prom. It wasn't even my issue that this cheerleader in particular invited my brother, brain-dead though she may have been. The issue, which concerned my parents far more than I, was that A) this girl was known for giving freely of sexual favors, and B) the word on the street, which reached my mother through the faculty gossip grapevine, was that this promiscuous cheerleader intended to use prom night as a means to gain access to my brother's seed, so to speak. She felt that with her looks and Matthew's brains (intelligence is relative; to this bimbo, Matthew seemed like a bona fide Rhodes scholar) and looks, the two of them could have produced a perfect physical and mental specimen. In short, the plan was for her to seduce my brother and bear his child.
Any sane parents on the planet would have told their son he needed to find another prom date, but the bimbo cheerleader was from the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak, and my parents did not wish to be perceived as snobs. Their solution was that Matthew and his date would double date with me and my escort. While this seemed a perfect solution to my parents, my brother and I were having conniption fits over it. I offered all sorts of alternatives including offering to buy a pack of condoms for Matthew at my own expense, or having my dad give Matthew chemical castration pills for a week under the guise that they were anti-acne meds, which he would have gobbled down as though they were Skittles. Finally, in sheer desperation, I pled with Judge Alex to reason with my parents and to try to explain to them that brothers and sisters simply do not double date to a prom unless they live somewhere deep in the Ozarks or Appalachia. The judge's response was something to the effect of, "I feel your pain, Alexis, but this is really your parents' call to make." Even though he didn't intercede on my behalf, it was comforting that he even read what I wrote and took the time to respond.
As it turned out in my soap opera-like existence, weeks before the prom, I had a freak hurdling accident with multiple broken bones including a compound tibia-fibula fracture, and was wheelchair-bound at prom time. My proposed date, not wanting to be seen at the prom with a gimp, unceremoniously canceled our date in a cafeteria full of students, not including me. My brother got even with the jerk by having his baseball teammate through a ball at the non-date's bac during a situation drill in baseball whe the creep was running in the wrong lane. My best friend and her date doubled with my brother and the bimbo, and my brother's seed didn't get close enough to bimbo's intended target to even do a quick tango, much less to conceive the perfect physical and mental specimen.
Judge Alex became my personal Ann Landers or Dear Abby, sometimes offering advice and sometimes not, because he couldn't possibly respond to everything. He helped me through the hardships of developing later than my peers, of getting braces at a late age, and of going off to medical school before I was quite sure I was ready to leave the nest. He did all of tis without ever undermining anything my parents said. As a result, my dad is also now a fan. I think my Dad was more upset that I when "Judge Alex" the TV show was canceled.
I suppose at times what I really wanted was to run away to Florida and to be adopted by the Ferrers because they would have been such cool parents as opposed to the oppressive mother and father to whom I was born. I know now about the grass always seeming to be greener elsewhere, and that a
person needs to be careful about what he or she wishes, and all those other cliches. My suspicion is that the Ferrers probably wouldn't have been any less pushovers as parents than my own parents were, but no one could have told me that back then.
Once when I was feeling somewhat ignored by the judge and commiserated to Jaci, a friend I met through the judge, that I had been relegated to persona non grata status as far as the judge was concerned, Jaci mentioned it to him and he asked for my cell phone number and actually called me. Even had the rest of the year been a disaster, which it wasn't as I passed my senior violin recital with highest honors graduated from university at the age of 19 with technically a triple major and was accepted into my first-choice medical school, the personal phone call from Judge Ferrer alone would have salvaged the year.
My friend Knotty wrote about how you can pay a specified amount and Merrill Osmond will call a person and talk the person of a ledge of a tall building or some such thing. I didn't need to be talked off the top of a multi-story building or anything of that sort, but just the same, I'd rather have a call from Judge Alex, even if I'd had to pay for it, than one from Merrill Osmond, and the call from Judge Alex didn't cost me a cent.
The judge even told me to keep his phone number and not to do anything stupid like publish it on the Internet but to call him if I ever really needed to talk. I haven't abused the privilege, but if the time comes when the course load becomes overwhelming and I feel like climbing to the top of a tower and ending it all, or even thinking of quitting med school, I'll probably call him first before resorting to drastic measures.
Some of the judge's followers may feel competitive in regard to his attention, but I don't. Some of my closest Internet allies -- paarticularly Jaci and Becca -- are people i met through the judge. I think I may even have met Marianne through the judge. Through my friend Knotty, I was introduced to the judge's wife's brother, who responded to one of my posts.
I'm still physically very much in the thick of adolescence -- if I were a male, my voice would be cracking all over the place -- but mentally and emotionally, I'm an adult. The first time you either cut into a cadaver or deal with a seizing patient until more competent help arrives because you're the only person there, you either grow up or get out. I chose to grow up.
Adolescence was painful in many ways, and I had a few curve balls thrown at me that no girl should have to face. Still, that which does not kill you truly does make you stronger. I'm not certain I could have withstood all the hurdles, both literal and metaphorical, were it not for the attention of Judge Alex. I am forever in debt to him for his kindness when I needed it most.