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Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

This is a confession, and I’m not proud of it.

Since I retired from my ad job at The Aspen Times a couple of months ago, I’ve been kind of at sixes and sevens what to do with myself. This nonactivity mainly has boiled down to avoiding getting my tax information together, an annual procrastination event that I now have more time to do than I’ve had in the past.

I’m not much of a TV watcher except for GrassRoots, PBS and the movie channels, but a friend of mine emailed me that I absolutely must watch the Judge Judy show.

My friend expected and hoped that I’d be hooked on “Judge Judy” just as she was. Friends shouldn’t encourage friends to go down the road to ruin, just as they shouldn’t let them drive drunk.

Well, maybe I’d watch one show just to shut her up.

Judge Judy was everything that I expected. She is the Dr. Laura of litigation, an acerbic arbitrator of a gaggle of dirtbags and idiots who come before her with charges against their erstwhile friends, neighbors, ex-spouses, in-laws and even their own children, for infractions ranging from destruction of property to nonpayment of rent to assaults with deadly weapons, including teeth: “She bit me, your honor – I have photographs.”

I can’t explain how I got sucked into the lowlife mayhem that unfolds during the Judge Judy program. In part, it might be the false sense of security derived from watching certifiably crazy people arguing totally untenable cases. It makes you feel quite sane by comparison.

Judge Judy herself is part of the draw – feisty, funny, snappy and mean. She rips through two cases in each half-hour show. Subtract the 18 commercials (I counted), promos and intros, and she has roughly seven minutes to wrap up each case.

When I realized that I was addicted to “Judge Judy,” I established a ground rule: I could watch the 14 minutes of the two “trials” in the show, but I had to do something productive during the 16 minutes of commercials.

I could check my email, read the newspapers online, cut up a flank steak for beef jerky or read my Kindle, but I could not watch the repetitive commercials for sleazy lawyers, used cars (“No credit? No problem!”) and schools where you can learn to be a medical technician in only 11 days.

Multiply this by four: There are four shows per day, under an hour of testimony and during an hour of chores I had to do to pay for my depravity.

This prohibition quickly grew thin. It involved a lot of getting up and down, working in unnatural spurts, and of course (this might have been subconsciously deliberate) there was no opportunity to attack my taxes.

And my interest is indeed waning, but OMG there were these two old wingnut ladies, and one had sprayed the other with a hose because her dog was about to poo on her lawn, and the hose lady said she only meant to spray the dog, and Judge Judy screams, “Madam, you have no legal right to spray either one of them!” and I was glad I didn’t miss that one.


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