My Name is Jake not Jonas
Jake had to pee. His meeting with Justice Breyer ran hours over the scheduled time. Justice Breyer wanted to know all about Instagram filters, and about midway through his Coachella explanation, his bladder began to burn.
“Jonas, were you here before Justice Stevens retired?”
“Let me tell you something about Justice Stevens. He was one of history’s great Irish exiters. Do you know what the Irish exit is, Jonas?”
“Leaving without saying anything,” Jake answered.
“It’s leaving without saying goodbye, yes. Have you ever read Howards End? That bit about only connecting. The Irish never connect. That’s why they can leave without hesitation.” Jake looked out the window. He saw a robin. What month was it? He had to pee so bad he forgot his whereabouts.
“We had a running joke, Jonas. Justice Stevens and I. The Jewish exit. It’s the opposite of the Irish exit. It takes us forever to leave. We never ghost. It’s always this thing or that thing. We’re always connecting. Always getting into it. Say we’re at a party. We’re saying bye to someone, another guest, and we’re talking about why we’re not sleeping as well anymore. Like whoever we’re saying bye to is our analyst.”
“I shouldn’t say ‘we’ like that. Are you Jewish, Jonas?”
“With a name like Jonas?”
“My name is actually Jake.” Justice Breyer’s phone began ringing.
“Hold on, Jonas. Hello. Yes, Joyce. Wait, what happened? Could you hold on please, Joyce?”
Jake was lost with the robins. What if he could fly? He’d fly and pee at the same time. He’d pee all over Justice Breyer’s car. Birds shit but they must pee too. I’ve never seen a robin piss, Jake thought.
“Jonas, it’s my credit union. My debit card has been compromised. The Target I occasionally shop at has been hacked, and so as a precautionary measure, my credit union will suspend all of its debit cards. This will just take a moment.”
Jake gritted his teeth and raised his eyebrows to show Justice Breyer that he thought that that sucked.
“Yes, Joyce. I suppose send me a new one then. Is there any way the number can stay the same? I’d hate to have to re enter it into all the websites.”
Justice Breyer raised one finger to Jake and mouthed “one second.”
“Well, like Amazon. You know better than I do where my card is hooked up. You see my statements,” Justice Breyer said to Joyce, his credit union lady. “Yes, iTunes. I know, yes, I should subscribe to a streaming service. But I sit on the board of Apple. Yes, I know. One of Apple’s board members belongs to a credit union! Can you imagine? What a world.”
Justice Breyer held up one finger to Jake again. Jake couldn’t feel his legs anymore.
“Well, do what you need to do, Joyce. I put my trust in you, as I’ve said many times before.” Justice Breyer hung up with Joyce. “I hate this card, Jonas.” Justice Breyer tapped his debit card on his desk.
“The world is run by cards nowadays. You can’t do anything without one,” Jake offered. What the hell was he saying to a Supreme Court Justice?
“When I first started here, this thing never worked right. It never swiped.” Justice Breyer yanked his ID badge from its lanyard. “I couldn’t get into my chambers. You scan the card along the thing at the door and the door clicks open. Well, this never worked!” Justice Breyer yanked his badge again.
“I figured I had lost my job. President Clinton was such a mess. I thought he finally got Mario Cuomo to accept a nomination to the Supreme Court, and I was done. Oh my God, and he’s about to return to the White House.”
Jake fake smiled.
“And then intermittently after that, for years, whenever I couldn’t swipe, Justice Stevens and I would laugh that Mario Cuomo accepted the job.”
Jake couldn’t find the robin anymore.
“You know what card I like? My swipe card for the JCC. Have you ever been to the Jewish Community Center?”
“No, but I know where it is.”
“I do some Pilates and take spin classes. That sort of thing. But whenever I lose my swipe card, they’re able to scan me a new one right then, and give it to me that instant. All cards should be like that. Fungible.”
Jake couldn’t wait any longer for Justice Breyer’s exit. He was going to piss his pants. He couldn’t imagine walking out on Justice Kennedy, but this guy was only bitching about his debit card.
“Justice Breyer, I’ll be right back.” Jake ran to the bathroom down the hall.
The bathroom isn’t empty, but oh well, Jake thought. He had to piss way too hard to worry about whether other people were around. He jet to the urinal.
Justice Alito was googling his colleagues in his bathroom stall. He got into the habit soon after Justice Scalia died. He had always relied on his senior colleague to tell him what to think of everyone he worked with, and who just entered?
No stage fright, Jake thought. Maybe that was getting better, finally. But what the fuck was that smell? Am I sick? Had I held my piss for so long that I’ve become sick?
The pee streamed out. It reeked. Jake gagged.
That’s right. I had asparagus for lunch.
Actually, Jake thought, that’s not terrible. It’s kind of hoppy, in fact. I wonder if I could brew maybe a vegetable infused IPA next? Would that work? He finished peeing. He texted himself “asparagus IPA???”
Jake heard whispers in the stall next to him. Was that Justice Alito? Jake cleared his throat to convey to Justice Alito that he wasn’t alone. He wondered if Justice Alito could smell his gross, hoppy pee.
Justice Alito exited his stall.
“Oh hey, Jack. I just come in here sometimes. To think. To write, whatever really. My clerks took over my desk with one of those cooperative games. They need more work,” Justice Alito said.
“It sounded like you were talking to someone?”
“Oh no. I mean, I was, but just to Justice Scalia. I am so lost here without him.”
Jake fake frowned.
“Jack, did you see what Justice Sotomayor said? She said she killed Justice Scalia. And now the individual right to bear arms is in jeopardy.”
“I hadn’t,” Jake said. But he had and he wanted to find out how viral Justice Sotomayor’s Snapchat had become. “I don’t think she actually killed him though. She was joking.”
“Nevertheless. We’re screwed. It’s all over Drudge, Snopes, Fox. I google my colleagues every morning.” Justice Alito fake frowned.
“That’s fine, Justice Alito. Googling your colleagues is one sociopathic behavior society accepts.”
“I think society condones other forms of sociopathy, Jake.”
“Yes I suppose so, Justice Alito.”
“Running for president is sociopathic.”
“Launching a tech company is too.”
“Pleading the fifth is a bit sociopathic. Your right to remain to silent is sociopathy constitutionalized.”
“Jack, yes. If you’ve done something wrong, and you keep it to yourself, you’re a sociopath. Speaking of sociopaths, can you now sign me up for the social media tools the Chief Justice is now requiring us to use?”
“I’m with Justice Breyer, Justice Alito.”
“Jack, let me tell you something about Justice Breyer. You must perfect the Irish exit.”
Jake checked his phone on his walk back to Justice Breyer’s chambers. It was Soulcycle. His favorite instructor was leading a Weezer’s Blue album ride. Say it ain’t so! How does he get out of Justice Breyer’s chambers in time to make the class?
“Hey Justice Breyer.”
“Jonas, did I tell you about the time the credit union thought my identity had been stolen but it really was me filling up my gas tank in West Virginia? I was officiating a wedding of two coal miners’ daughters.”
Should I just invite Justice Breyer to SoulCycle? He said he liked spinning, Jake thought.
“Justice Breyer, do you want to come to SoulCycle with me?”
“Jonas, I don’t really do souls. I hope that doesn’t offend you.”
“That’s ok,” Jake explained. “It’s just called SoulCycle. They turn off the lights and then light candles, but you don’t need to believe in it or anything.”
Justice Breyer smiled but it wasn’t fake.
“Come on. Justice Ginsburg usually leaves by 4pm. She keeps the best peanut butter filled pretzels in her chambers. I think they’re from Wegmans. We have Wegmans now. We can grab some before we spin.” Justice Breyer asked.
“Those sound good. Let’s go.”