By Matt Gordon
I’m a simple man. Since I know I’ll never be smart, rich, or famous, my dreams in life have been reduced to two things. The first I’ve written about—it is being on a jury of my peers or anyone’s peers; I’ll take whatever peers I can get. The second is being on the television show Survivor.
I play Survivor in my mind a fair bit. Mostly in the shower. I’ll deceive folks and win challenges and fake injuries and sway the jury, all while soaping up my bony Survivor-shaped body. I leave the warm waters, get dressed, and ask my wife, “Wanna hear how I won Survivor today?” The warmth ends there, but I tell her anyway. I pretend it is an immunity challenge: “First one to tell their mate about their fictional Survivor prowess wins the Immunity Idol.” Someday she’ll leave me.
A thought that hasn’t left me recently is if I’d be jealous should someone I know be selected for Survivor. I could never sort out my own heart enough to determine how much envy is in there.
Now I know.
A workmate of mine has been selected for Jury Duty, and I loathe him with every fiber of my Survivor-shaped body.
And it isn’t just that this fraud got selected to Jury Duty either. He got chosen for some special ops public service expedition that lasts 18 months. Yes, you heard that right—18 months! For 18 months this John-Jay-come-lately gets to flutter over to the courthouse to judge stuff and make scrutinizing faces. Do you know how long I’ve been working on casting judgment and making scrutinizing faces? I’ve got the face of an old De Niro when I judge. This guy! Off to court to be the star of the show. I object. I object so very hard.
I didn’t think there was any way he’d get chosen to such an esteemed position either. He’s sort of good-looking and physically fit for one. Even in the movies based on John Grisham books based on John Grisham’s imagination of how a courtroom operates, the jury members are, well, more like me. Average-ish. This guy is like a 7. To be frank, in the movies, you don’t find much above a 6. John Cusack, for instance, is the lead juror looks-wise in the 2003 hit film Runaway Jury. And while John Cusack is probably a very handsome man in normal circumstances, we’re talking Hollywood here. He’s no Brad Pitt. I’m the poor man’s John Cusack. This chump who got chosen is, like, a poor man’s Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney—take your pick.
Aside from looks, this guy wears a visible cross. Now, there is nothing wrong with wearing a visible cross. But the cross was a form of capital punishment and this is a courtroom, after all. You think I’m getting selected if I have an electric chair tattooed on my face? Not in my America, I’m not. Not in an America who gives a bald eagle’s talon about justice and fairness and decorum.
This chump—”Juror Number One” he claims—doesn’t even have a real name. He goes by Brock. What sort of name is that? Change the B for a C and you’d be closer: what a crock. Take out the C in Brock and move the K in its spot and add an E at the end and you’d have the current level of our judicial system and jury selection process: BROKE! Switch the O and R and remove the C and you have what he’s going to do to this case: Bork it up. Take out the B and you have what I threw at his truck the other day when he was driving away, probably off to court to hang with his new lawyer friends.
This guy. The worst part, though, I think, is that he knows how bad I want this. How I keep a graduation robe tucked in my work desk in case duty calls. How I put a child’s diaper on my head and talk with a cockney accent while pretending to be a British barrister on the hunt to prosecute Jack the Ripper.
I asked if he wanted me to take his license and sit in for him. If I went the first time, and then every time after, they’d never know that I wasn’t Bork. They’d be forced to play along as I played the role I was born to play—there, adjudicating, diaper firmly on head, changing the world one massive decision at a time.
But he wouldn’t even listen to me—some jury he is. He laughed like I was joking, so I laughed like I was too. Probably a little too hard and too loud. He asked if I was all right. I just kept laughing. I laughed myself right out of the room, right to my car; I laughed all the way home. I laughed straight into the shower—it is all I have left.
There in the shower, for the first time ever, I didn’t win the million dollar prize and title of sole Survivor. No, this time the votes didn’t go my way. Jeff Probst called me over the snuffed my torch with his familiar catchphrase, “The tribe has spoken.” And then, with deep-dimpled sincerity, he reminded me, “Matt, you will be the first member of our jury.”
I cried with joy, dried off, and hurried off to tell my wife that the dreams live on!