I had to confess: the prospect of a Law School party filled me with intense anxiety. Like all undergraduates, my pre-professional fears are riled up at the slightest mention of any of a number of terms: LSAT, GRE, Wall Street. But to actually venture into Law School territory while still in the nascence of youth — this seemed too great a task for even the strong-stomached.
Yet, I was standing outside of the apartment. The door was ajar and people were steadily streaming in. This was perhaps not the best time to start voicing my doubts.
And so I passed through the threshold and found a room of incoherence and segmentation. People were crowded into corners, far from the candles and traces of incense. They clung together, backs assembled like the shields of a Roman legion. It was clearly not a party for dancing, though slick electronic beats emanated from one corner and tried to incite at least a sway, or even a head-nod.
I had never marched on Rome, or even succeeded in the long jump, yet something compelled me to drive headlong into the barricades. And — Pow! Crack! Smash! — I broke through and learned more than is possibly recountable in so small a space. I learned a plethora of legal terminology; key information about choice graduate professors; and that law students are just as awkward and kind and excitable as the rest of us. And, oh boy, I learned that many don’t succumb to The Suit without putting up a fierce fight. Witness Y., who mixed a He-Man watch with knee-high kitty socks and a “Trick or Treat” baby-T. Or R., who is currently pursuing joint careers in law and indie rock. Her current single is titled “Jurisprudent is my Heart.” I think she was half-joking.
And, be still my heart, I met M. After shaking my hand, M. loosed a quite uncanny statement to the surrounding group.
“I couldn’t imagine what the world would be like without elves.”
Silence. She tapped one fingernail against her beer can. Click.
“I mean, ever since learning about ‘elf-spotters’, I knew I had found a life calling,” she continued. Still no response. Click. Click.
“Iceland’s a really fascinating country, you know? The land of fire and ice. Of Bjork, of course! That’s why Iceland’s so cool; and for the elves –“
She wanted to make the listeners understand, but how could they? Most humans could never accept the existence (and power) of such spiritual creatures. I only learned later, in private discussion with M., that Iceland harbors 13 types of elves, four varieties of gnomes, two groups of trolls, and three fairy breeds of Iceland. These “hidden people,” residing in rock and tree, are superior to us “primitives” in countless ways. Despite our technology and industry, we still have significantly shorter life spans. And civilization? The hidden person calendar is currently in year 5022. Inter-species relations? Besides the occasional dispute between elf and troll (usually over bridge-crossing fees), the small folk have achieved a tolerant cohabitation that we are struggling to commence.
Only the Icelanders seem to understand this, M. claimed, and that’s why they are the supreme nation. She became frenzied at this point in conversation.
“Ever heard of the Icelandic Elf School? Notice how the highways are always rambling in Iceland? This is the work of the Icelandic Highway Department elf expert, who charts the routes around ancient and current elf habitations. And what about Bjork, who clearly has elf and fairy friends; who certainly talks with them at least once a day, by carrier pigeon or tree hollow; who absconds with her spirit folk to the forest at least once a week? What about her?”
And so, in honor of M. (and by way of Pocahontas), I issue this caveat to you careless humans: “You think you own whatever land you land on / The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim / But I know every rock and tree and creature / Has a life, has a spirit, has a name.”
Elsewhere in the room, survivors of the “elf talk” had moved on to the topic of torts: is being at a third-floor party a liability? Is standing or sitting at a third-floor party more of a liability? Is discussion of elves an intellectual liability?
Is undergraduate and graduate student mixing a liability? For now the “young people” herded in: a secret society in full! The law students ruffled their feathers at the disturbance — who are they? Why are they here? Who called them? I did, in deathly need of some get-down dancing.
Rupture begat rupture, and quickly post-punk supplanted the lounge music. We heralded the arrival of the new: To the North! To the South! To the East! To the West! All coasts parted for the supreme undergraduate, Ms. C, a Botticelli babe redressed as Betty Paige. Lawmen gaped; Lawwomen stared. She was at least three stories tall.
It wasn’t so much her striped pants that did it — it was those legs, those rockets that zipped up into the heavens. Va-va-voom! Whoo-wee! Holy Mary, mother of God!
Throughout the room, wearied law students gave in to the undergraduate flair and offered sighs of gratitude.
And so the era of elf passed to that of the giant. Desire peppered each conversation. K. crystallized the newfound sensation, knotting his shirt around his neck and taking to the dance floor. Others slowly followed. The Gang of Four played on:
“Your kiss so sweet / Your sweat so sour / Sometimes I’m thinkin’ that I love you / But I know it’s only lust.”
Feet stomped, hands clapped. Law booty met undergrad booty. For a moment, it was pure, elated dancing.
T.S. Coburn is a giant among elves.