BY KATIE MAPES
Two days before the long Fourth of July weekend, Summer Associate Mouse woke up with a splitting headache, vague memories of a booze-filled firm-sponsored cruise and a knock-down-drag-out fight, and a burning desire to get out of town. It wasn’t that he thought he had done anything wrong, per se (and a quick visit to legallyrodents.com assured him that, if he had, nobody else had noticed), but all the same, he was finding the life of a summer associate draining. And who knew Cristal gave you such a headache?
Fortunately, Summer Associate Mouse had his blackberry and had taken the precaution of leaving the lights in his office on when he had left for the cruise – there would be no problem simply extending his holiday weekend by a day or two.
But where to go? Any of the more – shall we say – pleasant luxury haunts were likely to be populated by lawyers he knew, taking their own long weekend and anyway, he wanted a real change. No, there was only one thing to do it. He was going to go visit his cousin and law school classmate, Non-Profit Direct Legal Services Mouse in the next town over. Now that would be a change of pace.
A couple of hours later, head still pounding, Summer Associate Mouse darted onto the bus recommended by his cousin – it was certainly cheap, even if its Chinatown bus depot was located in a part of the city he seldom thought of and never visited – and settled into a comfortable nest of shredded newspaper under one of the rear seats. This wasn’t so bad for $15 . . . why, at this rate, he’d sleep all the way to Lesser Ratropolis . . . wait, what was that rattling sound?
Seven hours later, Summer Associate Mouse limped off the bus, pulling his rolly bag behind him. Any further reflection on this mode of travel, however, was halted by a small grey mass pummeling into him.
“Summer Associate Mouse!” his cousin squeaked enthusiastically, “You made it!”
“Technically.” He shook himself, attempting to dry the moisture that had seeped into his fur during the trip. It smelled like oil.
“Isn’t that company great? You know, I flew that trip once, and not only was it boring, I doubled my carbon footprint for the month. Never again! Come on, my place is just around the corner.”
Summer Associate Mouse looked around dubiously, and his cousin’s dank hole in a poorly spackled wall did little to reassure him. But all the same, he was exhausted after his trip and a few beers and some moldy cheese was all he needed to kick back and sleep the deep, twitchy sleep of the exhausted mouse.
Awakened early the next morning by his cousin’s bustling around the hole and finding himself at loose ends Summer Associate Mouse decided to shadow his cousin to work. After all, public interest was good for the soul, right?
Peeking out of the hole and into the kitchen – still empty at that early hour – he was surprised to see his cousin packing a brown paper sack with an assortment of crumbs and miscellaneous scraps from the compost bucket (his cousin was even squatting with a hippy!).
“What’s that for?” he yawned.
“Lunch, of course. It’s okay. I’m bringing enough for you too. There are restaurants, but they just aren’t a good value, and OPIA assumes we’ll only spend 45 cents a day on food, so . . .”
Good for the soul, he thought firmly. Good. For. The. Soul.
He kept that mantra up throughout the day, even when it turned out his cousin shared an office with four other interns (and that they actually called them interns; how déclassé). All the same, he had a pleasant nap under the desk and when he woke up, it turned out it was even easier to spend six hours watching You Tube videos in a shared office, especially when you weren’t billing. By the time it got to 3pm and his cousin dragged him into a staff meeting, he was almost cheerful.
With the staff assembled, Summer Associate Mouse noticed that none of them were wearing particularly fashionable shoes, not even the women.
His cousin introduced him to the group, and then everyone had to go around the room and say what they were working on. It was almost sweet. He drifted off, fantasizing about a career in public interest – saving oppressed mice, maybe, and sticking it to that terrible house cat a few doors down, then a chance phrase drifted to his ears, cutting off his reverie.
” . . . Great job on that, Non Profit Direct Legal Services Mouse,” the non-profit’s executive director was saying. “You really rocked that assignment. Maybe you could work it into a fellowship project!”
“Fellowship project?” Summer Associate Mouse found himself asking shrilly? “Why would he need to do a fellowship?”
Everyone in the room turned to stare at him, and Summer Associate Mouse found himself reaching his breaking point.
“This is terrible!” he shouted. “You don’t even give him an office, and then you expect other people to pay him to work for you? Just terrible! He might even graduate law school without a job!”
He stormed out the door, called his firm’s travel agent, and booked a first class ticket home. The next weekend, he sent his cousin another first class ticket – and a cab voucher, because taking the subway was not what this weekend was about.
Non Profit Direct Legal Services Mouse was thrilled to see Greater Mousitanople the way it was meant to be seen – in the lap of luxury, instead of from the grotty youth hostel downtown. He was thrilled by Summer Associate Mouse’s luxurious office – why, he could turn down the air conditioning just in his office! What a way to save energy! (And the free booze didn’t suck either).
That Friday, the firm had a cruise. It was the second cruise of the summer, Summer Associate Mouse explained to him. Non Profit Direct Legal Services Mouse decided not to ask about that strange twitch in his eye. Instead, he was just happy to see the city by sea at night.
Standing on deck, feeling the wind in his fur, sniffing the delectable smell of the nearby garbage dump (so many moldy scraps, ripe for the taking), Non Profit Direct Legal Services Mouse found himself wondering if OCI wasn’t in his future – I mean, to be wined and dined? How bad it could be.
Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a blur of motion. Wait, was that Summer Associate Mouse jumping into the water screaming? Was that Other Summer Associate Mouse making out with a partner? And why were all the other attorneys present ignoring the situation and staring at some kind of bizarre little electronic device?
Non Profit Direct Legal Services Mouse sighed; time to start filling out those Skadden applications.
Katie Mapes, 3L, has a mouse in her kitchen and a cat that’s way too lazy to catch it.