Big Money, Exploding Cars, and Ninjas: An Untruthful Title Aimed at Getting You to Waste Time Reading About My Uneventful Externship (Part 1)

When I step off the bus in downtown Portland, it's raining. I repeat over and over in my head the address of the law firm at which I'm to spend the next four weeks. My plan is that if I think the address a lot I won't forget it. I could've written it down, but then what would I have thought about on the bus all the way downtown? You thought you had me there, didn't you. But you didn't. (Here I stare menacingly at you and you stifle laughter)


I hurry past the homeless guy asking for change and the Bible Basher sitting on a chair outside a coffee shop reciting Bible verses about evil and damnation. I bet the coffee shop owners don't like that guy very much, I think. I think some more: I bet it must really stink to be friends with that guy because he probably never talks about sports or Wheel of Fortune or bacon bits or even that girl on Transformers. And then I think, Abu Halen, stop thinking about this stuff or you'll forget the address of the law firm.

But it turns out I quickly find the right address. It's the tallest building in Portland. You can see this place from like Venus or something. And by Venus I mean anywhere within two or three miles of downtown Portland. Three minutes later I'm on the elevator to the 23rd floor. I check my tie, smooth my hair, make sure my fly is up. Then I make sure my fly is up two more times, because that's super important. If you're trying to make a good first impression with lawyers, the 12th worst thing to do is have your fly down. In case you're wondering, the 3rd worst thing to do is to speak Elvish to them, and the absolute worst thing to do is to have a voodoo doll of their likeness in your hand and then, after they greet you, start frantically stabbing the doll with a dull pencil while shouting things in Afrikaans.

Stepping off the elevator, I sez to myself, I sez, "Self, this is just what I thought a law firm would look like." The walls are fitted with wood paneling. There are glass salmon above a leather couch in the foyer. I KNEW law firms had glass salmon on the wall. I just knew it. I smell one to see if it's real. Phew! It's not. Just kidding. I didn't do that.

The receptionist tells me to sit beneath the salmon and wait. So I sit there, and I try to figure out how to look. Don't slouch, I tell myself. You'll look like a slacker. But now I'm sitting really upright and I look like a coat rack because of my big nose and brown suit. My legs are tight together. I wonder if I look like a girl. So I spread them apart a little. I look down and wonder if the angle should be larger or smaller. Then, inexplicably, I try to remember the Pythagorean Theorem. Is it a+b=b+c, or, wait, didn't it have something to do with triangles? Then I stop myself because -- whoa, man -- I'm thinking about something Greek that's not a gyro. I've got to get myself together and figure out how I'm supposed to sit in the foyer so I don't look like a stupid extern. So I look out the window and try to appear as though I'm inventing new legal doctrines and it doesn't give me a headache or even cause me to crinkle my eyebrows.

Then, mercifully, because I'm starting to get a headache from the stress of trying to not look stupid, the recruiting guy shows up. What the-? He's not wearing a tie! And he's got a beard! And his fly's down! Just kidding. It's not. Maybe. I don't really know for sure, actually. I didn't look.


We shake hands and I try not to squeeze too hard, but then I also try to not give a fishy handshake either. Then, as I think of fishy handshakes, I think of the glass salmon and I almost ask him if he caught them himself, but I stop myself just in time. OMG. What a fantastic save Abu Halen. Think of the disaster if this had been your first exchange, aside from telling the receptionist your name, with a real person at a real law firm.

Real Person at Real Law Firm: Hi, I'm So-and-So. (extends hand for me to shake it)
Abu Halen: (shaking hands) Hi. I really like the glass salmon on the wall over there that don't smell like salmon. I smelled them. Did you catch them yourself?
Real Person at Real Law Firm: . . .
Abu Halen: (still shaking hands, but at a tapering speed; still lightly chuckling) Heh heh.
Real Person at Real Law Firm: . . .
Abu Halen: (realizing a change of subject is appropriate) I'm a ninja sometimes.

This gripping tale of intrigue will be continued next time, because right now I'm bored of writing. Next time I'll tell you about me getting free lunch. It. Will. Be. So. Awesome. I. Can't. Hardly. Wait. To. Not. Be. Bored. Of. Writing. So. I. Can. Tell. You. About. Free. Lunch.