10 Things I Hate About You (Give or Take 5)


Some columns try to tackle the hot button issues of the day, grappling with our nation’s pandemic flu preparedness or the post-election violence in Togo. This is not that column. Some columns attempt to review current books (Harry Potter & The Enchanted Pube), TV shows (Pimp My Genitals), or restaurants (S.H. Long’s Hot Dog Haven). This is not that column. Finally, some columns boil down to angry, discursive rants by embittered souls who are tired of enduring far too much rain and far too little sex. This is that column.

Don’t: Tell Me the “Proper” Way to Eat Sushi

Everybody has their own rules for eating sushi: “Let the soy sauce touch only the fish;” “Use ginger to cleanse your palate between each piece;” “Eat with your hands;” “Eat with your chopsticks;” “Eat with your cell phone;” “Smear wasabi on your balls and ululate before ingesting the sea urchin rectally.” It’s enough! Your parents took you to Tokyo when you were four, that doesn’t give you the authority to wax paternal about my yellowtail. The worst is when I’m read the riot act by the sushi chefs themselves. Um, the roll I just ordered contains Cheez Whiz and hamburger meat, and you’re the one lecturing me about authenticity. Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was technically adding too much wasabi to my “Snickers Maki.”

Now I don’t doubt that there are certain forums where you might want to get it right and eat properly. I’m just saying the Food Court at the mall isn’t one of them. Hey, I don’t care how they do it in Japan, we’re eating five feet from The Sharper Image. You know what, the Italians probably never intended pizza to be topped with buffalo chicken and Big League Chew, but I don’t see anybody complaining.

Don’t: Preface Every Sentence with “After 9-11…”

The other day I was asked to leave a supermarket for taking photographs in the produce section. The manager began by explaining that “It’s just a different world now after September 11th.” Hey, I agree. But I don’t see what the fuck that has to do with a sale on seedless grapes. Somehow my picture of the Clementines in aisle nine doesn’t seem to pose a national security threat.

We’re so obsessed with terrorism these days that we see it in every single thing that happens. There’s no need to “rule out” bin Laden’s involvement in Hurricane Rita. If you live in Laurens, Iowa, you don’t need to step up security measures at the bi-annual Rocky Mountain Oyster Fest. I mean, I’m at the point where I literally can’t even watch a plane fly into a building without automatically thinking “terrorism.” Now, I don’t mean to trivialize the threats posed by those who would do us harm. But if you’re speeding down the freeway in your climate-changing SUV without a seatbelt while smoking a cigarette and trying to scarf down a tuna sandwhich with enough mayo to choke an elephant and enough mercury to embalm it, then your priorities may need realigning.

Don’t: Say You Only Want “Mindless” Entertainment

I’m tired of suggesting movies to family and friends, only to be met with some variation of the following response: “Nah, I don’t want to think tonight, I’m just in the mood for something mindless.” Can someone explain this to me? I can’t remember the last time I had to bring my TI-86 graphing calculator to the theater in order to understand the plot. You weren’t up all day solving Fermat’s Theorem, I don’t think seeing The Constant Gardener is going to fry your brain. To be fair, people do need a break sometimes. I mean, when you spend all day on the Internet refreshing your Outlook and watching Hamster Dance, you do need to give that razor-sharp intellect a rest. Come now. It’s time to stop acting like you need an escape from the intractable issues you’ve been wrestling with at your think tank when you sell tank tops at J. Crew, and the biggest challenge of your day was the obese housewife who lost the receipt to her assless chaps. We’re seeing that postmodern Swedish documentary about the application of Coase theorem to riparian rights in underdeveloped countries, and I don’t give a shit what you think.

Don’t: Make the “No Double Dipping” Comment

The setup is all too familiar. You’re at a party. There’s dip of some kind on the table. You dunk your celery stick or pretzel and then wait, knowing it’ll only be a few seconds before some illiterate asshole pipes in with “Hey, no double dipping” and proceeds to laugh like a) it’s the first time he’s heard this joke; and b) he wasn’t the fucking one who just told it. I don’t know why this is such a big peeve of mine, but there’s something very grating about these lame wisecracks (see also, anyone who kids, “I’d tell you… but then I’d have to kill you”). Look, we all saw the Seinfeld episode to which you’re alluding; parroting back the exact same line from the show isn’t my definition of hilarity, so stop your spasmodic guffawing. Not to mention the fact that there are people out there who actually adhere to this “no double-dipping” rule. That dish of ranch dressing was put out six hours ago and it’s 95 degrees outside – thrice dipping my carrot should be the least of your concerns. Hey, if you can go home and blow some stranger you met at Dave & Buster’s thirty minutes ago, you can deal with a potential milligram of my saliva in your mouth too.

Don’t: Live Your Life Like You’re in the Middle of a Senate Race

During a class on intellectual property, my 1L professor asked the class who had ever illegally downloaded a music file. I expected to see eighty raised hands. Instead, I saw eight. I didn’t understand how that was possible until I caught on to the bizarre HLS phenomenon of refusing to admit to any illicit behavior, whether it’s the Vengaboys mp3 you downloaded freshman year or that mattress tag you removed during your “rebellious phase” in high school. Our current President did blow for at least half a decade, was caught drunk driving, and peaced out during his National Guard duty, and you’re still afraid to tell professor Stuntz you’ve committed jaywalking? I believe you never once smoked a joint as much as I believe Britney Spears had an intact hymen after she was fifteen. There are 295 million people living in this country, yet only one President. A damaging Google search isn’t what’s going to keep you out of the White House. Your general unlikeability and inability to appreciate policy nuances are more likely candidates. Plus, your attempt to stay clean as a preacher’s sheets is based on the flawed assumption that what you did or did not do actually matters (see Swift Boat Veterans for Truth). Everybody knows that if you want to get ahead politically, all you have to do is grow up with George Bush.

Justin Shanes is a 3L. If you read only one column this week, read his. If you read two, read his again. He can be e-mailed at jshanes@law.harvard.edu

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