“Before He Cheats”
(A statement from Oklahoma 9th Judicial Circuit Court, the Hon. Lindsay R. Stapleton presiding)
Right now, you’re probably wishing that you could shoot a little whiskey. Right now, you’re probably thinking your ditty was much too risky. Right now, you’re probably hoping that the Court rules for you or that he won’t show.
Oh, yes. I know.
But Miss Underwood, the fact remains that when you “dug your key” into the side of “his pretty little souped-up 4-wheel drive,” you engaged in an act of vandalism as the pickup truck is obviously valued at more than the $400 required for this felony charge. Guilt is clear in this case. We turn now to a punishment that fits the crime.
In deciding an appropriate sentence, the Court notes that you also show contempt for a variety of innocents in your blonde rage against your former lover. I would be remiss if I overlooked the clear hatred you have for protected classes, such as drinkers of fruit-based cocktails.
Miss Underwood, the fact that you defaced the vehicle is criminal. The fact that you “carved your name into his leather seats” suggests that you are an amateur and should be a mitigating factor. I’m going to exercise my judicial discretion to impose the minimum sentence on you. It’s my hope that I might’ve saved a little trouble for the next judge.
This Court prays that next time, you’ll think before you sing.
“Friends in Low Places”
(A letter to Dear Abby, dated September 20, 1990)
DEAR ABBY: I am a mostly happy newlywed man in a small college town in the South and I need your opinion about my wife’s rowdy ex-boyfriend. I don’t want this to turn into a thing in our marriage but I feel like I have to address an incident from our wedding reception.
Her ex—let’s call him “Barth Grooks”—was not invited because we didn’t want things to get weird and my wife, an assistant professor of communication at our local university, hates confrontation and avoids it at all costs. We even went so far as to not invite other friends that knew him out of fear that he might hear about it and get upset. Well, he found out somehow and showed up right before my best man was about to give his speech.
Look, I want to be clear that I don’t look down on him or think I’m “better” than him somehow, but the man was in blue jeans and boots! Here we are, dressed to the nines on what is supposed to be the happiest day of our lives and he crashes our party like a hayseed bull in a black tie China shop. To make matters worse, he stole my champagne right out of my own hands as he grabbed for the microphone, slurring his speech and insulting my wife by bragging about his drinking buddies. (I’m also afraid that he may be an alcoholic and could hurt himself or others one day, but that’s beside the point for now.)
My wife is distraught and can’t stop apologizing to all of our friends for Chris’s behavior. Should I confront him and ask him to apologize to her or just let it go and get on with our marriage?
—NEWLYWED IN A HARD PLACE
“Folsom Prison Blues”
(A yellowed scrap of paper recovered from the scene of a plane crash)
Dear Mr. Cash,
You don’t know who I am but I know who you are and I know what you done. You shot my pa in Reno for no reason other than “to watch him die.” All I know is your name. But one of these days I’m going to find you and I’m going to give you this letter so you’ll remember what you done to me. You killed my pa, Mr. Cash.
(A comment from throwaway account “BucolicLolita” on an AskReddit thread titled, “Men of Reddit: Were you ever tempted by underage advances?”)
Many years ago I got a summer job as a farmhand between college years when I was about to turn 21. I had a car so I get could get around my small town pretty easily. It was hard work but rewarding, filling me with a sense of accomplishment and grounding me to the salt-of-the-earth lifestyle I missed out on as an English lit major.
The farm owner had a high-school granddaughter who wouldn’t stop hounding me, even though I told her she was too young and it wouldn’t work out. I recognized that she was attractive and a potential life-changing disaster so I steered clear.
One day after detassling the north 40, she brought me what I thought was going to be sweet tea but it turned out to be this awful Southern strawberry wine (I’m really more of a shiraz man myself). Against my objections she kept refilling my glass into the night. Between my dehydration, my exhaustion, and the heat I guess I let it get a little out of hand out there next to the banks of the river. It was a one-time thing. I told her it could never happen again and I quit the next week to go back to school early. She sent me a few letters and I returned them out of courtesy, but I wish I could take it all back.
I hear the fields have grown over now—maybe the owner passed away? I would’ve gone to the funeral if I had known but I couldn’t deal with seeing her again, adult or not.
(Closing argument by Knox County Associate Prosecuting Attorney Skeeter T. McGraw
State of Tennessee v. Wanda Maines
August 21, 2000)
All right. The State may commence with their closing argument.
Obliged, Your Honor.
Ladies and gentlemen, nyaw this woman, as she calls herself, has confessed to the cold blooded and pre-meditated killin’ of her beloved, Mr. Earl. Hell, folks, she talks about it in the damn song they play on the wireless! Nyaw, this is a shame. A cryin’ shame. She may’ve had a tougher life than some, but it would never’ve been too tough a task than what the good Lord would’ve gave her to handle. So I says let justice be done upon ‘er, and may God have mercy on this wretched creature! Amen.