Tuesday, April 2, 2013


My son Ben is going to graduate from the law school at the University of Florida in a few weeks. I'm really quite proud of him, as I am of all my kids. He's done really well in school, and in a way following the late bloomer path his father did, spending some years out in the world before deciding what he wants to do with his life. And now he's about to launch the rest of his life as an attorney. Already has a job at a good firm. Way to go, son!

I've often thought and others have occasionally observed that I might've been a lawyer. I'm not unacquainted with law school. I did fairly well on the JSAT years ago and actually began law school in the fall semester of 1965.That's a long time ago. I was 22 years old at the time and had yet to grow a brain. But I did have the presence of mind to know I did not want to be shoveled into the maw that was the Vietnam war, an absurd Cold War exercise in "stopping Communist aggression" that cost over 58,000 American guys their lives. I wanted no part of that damn war, so I enrolled in law school at LSU. Long story short: I attended about six weeks . . . and was crushingly bored. The only good things that happened to me that semester were: I met my darling wife Susan in the Catholic Newman Center next to the law school (where I used to go to nap between classes) and I kept my ass out of Vietnam. It was all perfectly above board. Those were back in the days of the draft, and you could be deferred if you were a full-time student. (It was an excellent way, it might be observed, to make sure that only the poor and disadvantaged of the nation did most of the dying for the rest of us. The kids who could not afford college were the guys who got drafted.)

I didn't mean to drag this on and on. Suffice to say, I eventually had to spend four years in the Air Force, but I never got sent to Vietnam. And I never became a lawyer. I became a historian instead when, after growing a brain, I went to grad school and got a Ph.D. in American history thereby assuming the mantle of pointy-headed intellectual, which I leave it to others to determine whether it's an apt description or not. I'm not for a moment insinuating that my son Ben did not grow a brain long before his old man did. Indeed, he had a firm business foundation and was doing well before he departed for law school. I can only wonder what might have been had I stuck with the law, which, by the way, has always remained interesting to me, if you're talking about constitutional law, philosophy of law, stuff like that. But not the day-to-day grind of it.
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