Advertisements
Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Stephen King’

At Barnes & Noble, where I once worked as a marketing exec, we bandied about the phrase “aspirational purchase” to portray a small, but profitable segment of our sales.

Aspirational purchase meant you bought the book not because you were going to read it, but because you aspired to read it. You might even convince yourself you were going to – but in all likelihood it would serve as a pretentious coffee table tchotchke, an impressive (if un-cracked) spine on a decorative bookshelf, or a useful device to prop up a little kid’s butt so he could reach the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving.

An aspirational purchase is intended to impress – you want to be seen buying it. It tends to be something conservative as well. And long. And difficult. “War and Peace” is the classic aspirational purchase, but you might also pick up something with a political message that makes you look wise and open-minded, like “The Satanic Verses” (which, for the record, I actually read.) (No, I’ve never plumbed War and Peace. However, I embrace the fact that plenty of you certainly have read it and, yes, loved it and desire for me to acknowledge you’ve read it and how much you loved it – to which I reply, in advance, how very nice for you.)

Law school is an aspirational purchase.

You choose law because it’s more impressive than an internship or “assistant” job – which is how you’d have to start out in an ordinary career. With law you jump directly to the land of the grown-ups without passing Go. From the moment you graduate, you have a “profession.” That means (at least in theory) you wear a suit and people take you seriously. You’re an “attorney” – not someone’s assistant.

Law is conservative, too. It’s about the least imaginative thing you could do. A law degree establishes (at least in theory) that you are serious and focused and down-to-business. No more staying up all night partying for you. It’s time to retire that giant plastic bong with the “Steal Your Face” decals and step up to adulthood, dude.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

There’s a terrific opening scene in Stephen King’s novel, “Pet Sematary.”

I don’t read a lot of Stephen King novels. That’s not because I dismiss his skill as a writer. It’s because they scare the hell out of me.

In this one, the main character is a young doctor. He’s on his first day at a hospital when a college kid is rushed into the ER. The kid was hit by a car, so he’s all smashed up, his neck broken, blood all over the place, one eyeball hanging out – whatever. Just as the doctor is concluding he’s dead, an arm shoots out, grabs the doctor by the collar and the dead kid stares at him (with his working eyeball.)

“Stay away from the Pet Cemetery!” he intones.

In a flash, it’s over. The kid is stone cold, and the doctor wonders if he was hallucinating.

The suggestion to stay away from the pet cemetery, however, is a sensible one. Like most sensible suggestions, it goes entirely unheeded.

I don’t want to give away the ending (and I only read the first 20 pages because I got scared) but I suspect, if he stays away from the pet cemetery, flesh-eating zombies won’t become an issue.

But he doesn’t listen!

Lawyers are the same way. They just don’t listen!

Here’s another scary story. My client was in law school. With a big smile, she announced to her journalist boyfriend she was accepting a job at the big, prestigious law firm where she’d summered the year before.

He grabbed her by the collar, his face etched with horror, and intoned: “But you hated that place. It totally weirded you out. You said you were pursuing public interest. Why would you go back there?”

She didn’t listen. Now their relationship is over, and she’s hating her job and her life and weeping in my office.

“Why didn’t I listen?”

But she’s not the only one. You had moments like that, too – didn’t you? When someone tried to warn you?

My Pet Sematary moment came the summer before I started law school.

I was visiting home, went to a party and ran into an old friend – a guy I’d known since I was about twelve years old. I casually related the big news – I was going to law school! I expected one of several possible reactions:

  • an expression, feigned or otherwise, of happiness that I was finding my way forward in the world;
  • a tinge of jealousy that he was still a burn-out art student while I was on my way to wielding staggering corporate power; or
  • curiosity about law school and how he might follow in my tracks.

I didn’t get any of those reactions. I got disappointment and concern.

(more…)

Read Full Post »