Of all the courses I’ve taken so far at law school, Moot Court has been one of the few I’ve found both useful and interesting. It is also the course with the most potential for humiliation. You have to argue fake cases in front of a panel of judges or justices or whatever your jurisdiction calls them made up of some mixture of your professor, classmates, and local attorneys/judges/justices/WHATEVER.
To start with, I am not a talk to myself kind of a person. Even seeing people do it in movies makes me feel weird and squirmy. I once dated a guy who did it a lot, and I suspected he might be a serial killer. Just . . . no. However, when preparing for Moot Court, ya gotta moot. And I was not about to get up my first day and embarrass myself in front of peers I’d never met and a professor who was sexy in a totally brilliant yet arrogant and douchey Professor Alcott from Loser kind of a way.
So on my drive to campus the day of my first argument, I tried really hard to practice saying the stuff from my notes out loud. Due to my high levels of anxiety and awkwardness and wanting to jump out of my skin and hack off my ears at hearing the sound of my own voice, the first attempts sounded like this: “Mayitpleasethecourt, my name is Skyler Hall…”
Distraught that I might have to argue without having practiced outside of reciting in my own brain, I started to panic. But then Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” came on the radio, and I realized what I had to do. I blasted the music so loud that I could not hear myself, and began to recite to my hearts’ content.
“May it PLEASE the court, my name is Skyler Hall . . .”
“May it pleeease the court, MY name is Sky Hall . . .”
So once you’ve got your arguments and your vocal stylings down, the next obstacle becomes the fidgeting. Leaning on the podium, touching your hair, in my case, clasping your hands so tightly you look like you’re either trying to break your own bones or push out a really prickly poop. At the end of each simulation the professor would first ask the presenting student to comment on what they thought of their own performance (“I’m sorry professor, I think I blacked out,” was invariably my answer). Next he would turn the question out to the class, and finally he would give his own commentary. Fidgets and physical quirks, no matter how good you are, were always fodder for criticism.
And then there was Bobby. The first time he argued, I was nervous for him. He is a relatively attractive, somewhat preppy male who’s own nerdiness and social ineptitudes make him just weird and nice enough to be eternally friend-zoned by the opposite sex. The way this courtroom was laid out, you had the panel’s bench in front, the podium facing the panel, and seating behind the podium, so the audience was staring at the back of your head.
Bobby gets up to the podium and I’m surprised to find that he’s actually extremely articulate up there. He even seems to have a great rhythm going that helps his argument to flow along nicely. Which is when I noticed his butt. Bobby was clenching and unclenching his butt to some sort of steady drumbeat in his head. Clench, one two, relax, one two, Clench, one two, relax one two. For fifteen minutes I couldn’t stop staring at this kid’s ass. The clenching caused the smallest thrusting motion, as if he were having sex, but with a partner who was unaware of that fact, and he didn’t want to alert her. And with each clench his khaki’s were rising farther and farther up his butt crack. Eventually I’m pretty sure I could see the dimples in his butt cheeks. People all around me were turning giggles into coughs, and snorts into sneezes.
When it came time for peer review, no one said a word, until professor Alcott just gave up and gave his own comments:
Prof. Alcott: Blah, blah, blah. And, I’d like to end on this note, Bobby, when it comes to body language, you were by far the most poised and collected of your class. You didn’t over emphasize hand gestures. There were no weird twitches, or swaying. I was able to focus on your argument, because there were no distracting movements.
Apparently, only those behind the podium could see the thrusting, the judges thought he was a natural. So there you have it folks. The secret to successfully mooting: Miley Cyrus and butt clenching.