No Nude Swimming

Attorney Sam Weisman is having a bad day. His wife wants a divorce, and his law practice is threatened by a hostile takeover. What’s a guy to do?

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Had I looked, I might have seen the first punch coming. But I never had a clue about the knockout.The sun was just beginning to warm the house on that cool, clear Sunday morning in late spring as I sat in my kitchen reflecting on my good fortune.Gazing out through the broad glass doors, beyond the manicured lawn and glistening swimming pool to the beauty of San Diego’s Mission Bay, I was one with the limitless ocean that stretched away to the pale horizon.

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Chapter 20

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Sid the Psych – Psycho-Ceramics

"As I look at it, Sam, you and I are in similar businesses,” he began. “Yes, the people who come to you are called clients, while those who come to me are called patients. But in both cases, they come looking to us to solve their problems, don’t they.”

“That they do, Dr. Sid.”

“And many times those are problems they themselves have created, and continue to create, regardless of us or what we do. Right?”

“Oh, so right,” I replied with a knowing laugh.

“Well, I call the business of solving these people's problems "psycho-ceramics."

"Psycho-ceramics? I don’t get it. We're ceramicists?"

"Yeah. We both deal with crackpots."

I couldn't resist a laugh. "Okay. So psycho-ceramics is dealing with crackpots."

"You got it. An inside term of the trade. That's what we do, you and I." He steepled his fingers and made eye contact. “So, what's going on? Tell me.”

I waited for him to say more, but he kept silent.

Finally, he smiled. “Well, Sam, you’re lucky. I don’t help crazy people. I help people like you. Your situation is normal. Yes, it’s dysfunctional. But it’s normal.”

I cocked an eye at him, and he understood that I didn’t really get what he was saying.

Normal- D&D (Dumb and Dangerous)

“First, there’s normal and there’s abnormal,” he explained, “and then there’s functional and dysfunctional.”

He waved on hand in a gesture of dismissal. “Let’s forget the abnormal; they have problems I don’t want to go into. Of the normal people in our society, at least ninety-five percent and more are dysfunctional.

“I divide my normal but dysfunctional patients into two separate categories. Now, here’s what you need to know: The first category of dysfunctional I call D&D, and the second I call A,D&D.”

“So… what is D&D, and what is A, D&D?”

Dr. Sid’s face betrayed just a suggestion of a grin, and I knew that meant he was enjoying this.

“Well, Sam,” he said, “D&D is Dumb and Dangerous, but usually only to oneself. A,D&D, on the other hand, is Angry, Dumb, and Dangerous. A whole ‘nother level of dysfunctional. Those folks are a menace to society.”

Suddenly, it all burst out. “Well, I don’t know which of those categories I fall into. I am angry, but I don’t think I’m a menace to society,” I said.

Dr. Sid leaned forward. “Okay, you’ve been through some major losses. Your wife dumps you. You lose your law firm. It’s understandable that all that is sending you into stress. ….

“By the way, in case you’re still wondering, you’re definitely D&D. Your anger is situation-based, not the core of your reality. It sounds like you need some counseling, somebody to hold up a mirror for you so you can begin to see how you get yourself into situations that smack you upside the head.”

“As part of all that, he controls the money market account. At the end of the day, I’m lucky if I have control of my bladder!

Suicide never, homicide …

Dr. Sid stood up. I followed, assuming the session was at an end. “Sam,” he said, laying a hand on my shoulder, “You’re a little depressed. It’s normal after what you’ve been through.”

He leaned dramatically in my direction. “I have to ask, have you had any ideations of suicide?”

“Suicide? Never. I would never give anybody the satisfaction. Homicide, yes. And I have a short list.”

He frowned, and then his face melted into a wry smile. “I appreciate your comedic humor,” he said. “You’re a funny guy, just like your father.”

Johnny Redman – Thief selling shit to idiots

Johnny had been perceptive, bright, and a fantastic golfer. The PGA tour was his dream. But he just couldn’t help shilling, cutting corners, working a con. He had never lost his confidence skills—or his rat sense for survival.

I had asked him once what he did at his boiler room office supply sales job. “I’m a thief selling shit to idiots—you know, like politicians and other B.S. role models,” he had said, straight-faced.

Arrogance … where it belongs

Seeing the word ‘partnership’ did give me a twinge, reminding me of the looming Meet and Confer with James and that smug, self-absorbed yuppie, arrogant, golf-playing attorney of his. “Both of them should keep their arrogance behind their zippers where it belongs.”

Robert Gottlieb

A retired attorney, Robert Gottlieb maintained a private practice in Los Angeles and San Diego for a total of 36 years.

He began his general law practice focusing primarily on business clients, and in the 1980s began representing insurance company clients. His career as a lawyer provides the backdrop of experience against which he has painted with a broad stroke the disillusionment and exhaustion that haunt the majority of attorneys practicing today.

Born in Los Angeles, Robert lived most of his early life in the San Fernando Valley. He attended public school and graduated from law school in Los Angeles.

Realizing that Los Angeles was a magnet for the world of dreamers seeking recognition and success in the arts and entertainment field, Robert conjured a theory that God created earthquakes for the purpose of bringing talent and the crazies to Hollywood, shaking the world until the fallout from other countries ended up in the United States.

God then shook the world again, according to the theory, and whatever had originally fallen into the United States now fell into California. God shook the world with yet another earth quake, and what shook loose fell into Hollywood, bringing ideas ranging from the bizarre to the ingenious and elevating a few to enjoyment of huge success.

Early in his days as a practicing attorney, Robert began making and saving notes involving situations with clients, prospective clients, courtroom proceedings, and the humorous and often absurd stories related to him by other attorneys. It didn’t take long to realize that the practice of law, like any other business, is about people much more than about the law itself.