I Won’t Be Mean Today

And maybe not tomorrow either

Orrin Onken
Crow’s Feet
Published in
4 min readJun 6, 2024

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AI Image. Prompt by Author

My career was in law, and lawyers don’t treat each other well. We are mean. Being mean shows we are tough and zealous advocates for our clients. I wasn’t the meanest in my legal community, nor was I the nicest. I was somewhere in the middle, but when it came to being mean, I could hold my own.

Being a lawyer didn’t make me mean. I was mean before that. I began as a teenager, being mean to my parents and my siblings. Later, as a young scholar, I honed my meanness on the likes of Swift, Voltaire, Twain, and congratulated myself on the elite company I kept. I became an avid consumer and then practitioner of the mean arts: satire, parody, sarcasm and cynicism.

If confronted, I would argue indignantly that my meanness had a purpose. I wasn’t randomly making people feel bad. I was pointing out human folly wherever I found it. I was showing my species — often one person at a time — a better way to live and was making the world a better place.

Like most mean people, I specialized. While there are many human weaknesses that might have captured my attention, I chose to focus my spleen on hypocrisy. This modest sin — unable to climb out of obscurity and make it into the ten commandments or even the seven deadly ones — became my niche. God called me to battle it wherever I found it, and I…

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Orrin Onken
Crow’s Feet

I am a retired elder law attorney who lives near Portland, Oregon. I write legal mysteries for Salish Ponds Press and articles about being old.