I was in a classroom for the first day of class at Baylor Law School. About 30 students were in the room and we were all sitting in folding chairs. Jim Carver (a former high school schoolmate) was sitting on my left. I noticed that some students had some objects with them and I began to realize we were supposed to have brought something to class this first day. However I hadn't been aware of that before now.
After I had noticed that two or three students had old violins, the fellow in front of me handed me the broken off body of an old violin. It looked as if had been both broken in half and burned. I thought I would be able to use it as the object which I was supposed to have brought to class, but I was still unsure what I was supposed to do with it.
Finally the tall, slender, white-haired professor walked in. He looked as if he were in his early 60s and reminded of a judge I had once been before in juvenile court in Dallas.
Apparently we were indeed supposed to have brought something to class. The professor called out my name and asked what I had brought. I pulled out the broken violin and held it up. I was unsure what I was supposed to do with it. The professor appeared chagrined and acted as if that wasn't the type of thing I was supposed to have brought. He spoke and from what he said I gathered that we should have either brought a cartoon of cigarettes or some modeling clay.
Many students had cartons of cigarettes and several had modeling clay. I thought it might indeed be interesting to work and mold modeling clay. I hadn't been doing anything like that. One girl had used some pink modeling clay to fashion something like the Pink Panther character. It probably stood 30 centimeters tall. She must have had quite a bit of clay to have made such a large sculpture.
After the professor asked other students what they had brought, it became apparent that some others likewise hadn't brought anything. Finally I said, "How were we supposed to know that we were supposed to bring something to class this first day?"
I didn't think any notice had been posted. Apparently the professor simply thought it was our duty to have found out and he stated that there would be a punishment for those who hadn't brought anything. I thought the punishment would probably be that that the students who hadn't brought anything would have to stay longer in class, perhaps for an hour.
The professor asked me for my opinion about the matter. I noticed another law professor, who reminded me of United States Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, standing in the doorway. I began giving a little speech, "Well the only fair and just way to proceed would be to have the students come to class the first day and then to inform them, as most other professors do, that they will need to be bringing certain things to this class. I was in a store just yesterday and saw some modeling clay in there. I could have brought some, but I didn't know we were supposed to bring something. And now because I didn't know I'm going to have to face some dreadful punishment. That is not fair and just."
A number of students began applauding. Carver stood up, said a few words and one or two people applauded him.
The professor, obviously becoming irate, walked to a bar, picked up a carton of cigarettes, strode to me and slammed it down in my hands. I walked over to a trash can, threw the carton of cigarettes into it and said, "I'm not going to take these. I hate being a part of a school where a professor would even think of having somebody take this type of thing. And I mean it. Now I'll bring in that modeling clay cause I like that kind of thing. But don't try to force me to take something that's going to cause cancer."
People in the room seemed to think I was doing a good job arguing my point. Someone said, "Well Steve's going to do OK." I felt inflamed. It seemed I could argue well in the proper case. I might make a good lawyer.
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