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A lawyer in lights

Being a lawyer means working long hours. To make up for it, I try to do fun things for my kids on the weekends and holidays.

During Christmas that means trips to see pretty lights and setting up a train under the tree. Frankly, I’m a dork, so the train is as much for me as them, but it’s a tradition nonetheless.

This year my wife, in a clear attempt to cash in some life insurance, asked me to string up Christmas lights on the house. Not on the bushes near the ground; on the roof, near heaven.

There are a couple things you should know at this point: (1) I’m not the handiest guy in the world; (2) it was cold and windy the day she picked; and (3) in the past few years my firm has handled at least three cases involving men falling to their premature deaths off a roof or through it.

Awesome. Let me get the ladder.

First I had to untangle the box of icicle lights, which is worse than studying for the bar exam. As I pulled and twisted the cords I felt my blood pressure rise. Tangled strands flopped around like angry spaghetti.

Eventually, I wrestled about eight of them free and tested each strand. Time for the roof.

At this stage, lawyer-brain kicked in. I began thinking of the friction coefficient of my shoes to the roof shingles, as an accident reconstructionist might. Then I remembered Maryland’s affirmative defense doctrine called contributory negligence, which boils down to this axiom: If you do something stupid, you can’t sue and recover.

I also thought of assumption of risk and its three elements. Check, check, and check.

Worse yet, I thought of the snarky editor of the Darwin Awards who would just love to include a lawyer’s demise in his list of the most ironic and hysterical deaths of the year.

Sigh. On the roof I went.

After stringing the lights with pathetic plastic gutter clips made in China, the stage was set.  During the process, though, I managed to: (1) strain various muscles that hadn’t been used since the Clinton administration; (2) sustain circulation problems in my legs from crouching like a catcher for an hour; and (3) almost die, twice.

Regardless, I got ‘er done and it was time for the reveal, followed by, I was sure, the cheers of a grateful and awestruck family.

After I plugged in the lights to the extension cord, voila! LET THERE BE LIGHT!  Sure enough, all eight bands of lights lit up, and my oldest daughter gasped with delight.

Thirty seconds later, they went out.

I can’t write what I said next, and I certainly can’t write what I was thinking. Regardless, like a trooper, I scaled the roof again to try to fix the problem. Same thing. And yes, wise guy, I checked the fuses and the circuit breaker.

The next thing I remember is ripping the lights off the roof like ‘Roid Rage Scrooge –- without the muscles.  Then I giggled maniacally as I shoved them back into their clear plastic storage box. Angry spaghetti again, sitting there on a shelf in my garage, taunting me for another year.

I’d take them to the dump and bury them like in “Goodfellas,” but I’m afraid they’d spring to life and strangle me before I get there.

Nope. This is personal now. Daddy’s got a new holiday tradition: lawyer versus lights. It’s Clark Griswold or the Darwin Awards.

To be continued.