Going To Court Over The Laundry

Katie Young
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Wednesday - June 23, 2005
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When you were a little kid and got into a disagreement on the playground, sometimes all it took to win the argument was an appropriate threat: “I’m going to tell!”

Other times, a little more fancy talking was required to show your kindergarten prowess.

“I’ll get my dad to beat up your dad!” you’d shout at your accuser. If you said it with enough gusto, sometimes that would do the trick. Your little friend would walk away, defeated.

But then there were those children who questioned the truth of your statements. Defiantly, they’d yell back, “Oh yeah? Prove it!”

I think Sebastian must have been one of those kids because to win any argument with him, I have to prove my point.

Sounds fair, right? Well, I’m not just talking about a war of words. That just turns into a he said/she said battle.

To have any hope of winning the argument, I have to prove my point as if I were an attorney in a court of law. I must bring evidence, call witnesses, prepare necessary documentation — and then present my case. This can become quite funny — especially when it involves something as mundane as household chores.

Sebastian, however, plays the role of both defense attorney and judge (can you say “conflict of interest”?). He reasons that it’s more important to me to be “right” anyway, so, therefore, it is I who needs to prove my case to him if I want justice.

Knowing he views our arguments as such, I have learned to take great care in how I bring my “case” to “court.”

I’ve devised an anagram to help me through it. To PROVE my point, there are five steps to help ensure success in winning an argument with Sebastian. The steps can be used individually or in combination, but are most effective when completed in order.

Case number 45186: Katie vs. Sebastian in the matter of who really folded the laundry last week. Prosecuting attorney Katie Young will attempt to Prove that Sebastian didn’t fold it.

Preparation. Preparation is perhaps the most important step. It lays the groundwork for all future points made during the case. Think first about what you want to say.

Documentation can be in the form of receipts, phone bills, computer printouts or doctor’s notes — any piece of paper that can prove you were where you claimed to be at the moment in question.

Once you start delivering your argument, it can be helpful to Raise your voice. Sometimes (but not always), this can make you appear firmer in your convictions. That’s often enough to convince the court of your point. However, this should not be confused with yelling, which can lead the “judge” and “defense counsel” to tune you out completely.

Overexaggeration can also work to your advantage if you’re not too far over the top. Dramatic hand gestures or pregnant pauses can persuade even the most reluctant jurist.

Some find it helpful to Visualize their success. Think about your victory. Picture yourself proving your point and winning the argument in an “Aha!” moment that no judge, jury or Sebastian can question.

Beyond all the preparation and the tricks to make your argument appear plausible, Evidence, such as secretly taken photographs of Sebastian playing his video game, is the thing that will indisputably prove your point. The bottom line is that words alone, no matter how persuasive they are, will not prove a point.

Often, the best way to present evidence is to call a reliable witness to the stand. Pono, the wiener dog, is often the only witness to our arguments.

“I call Mr. Pono to the stand,” I say. After Mr. P is sworn in, I start my line of questioning. “Mr. Pono, sir,, what were you doing at precisely 3 p.m. last week Wednesday? Lying in a sunbeam. I see. And then you were startled awake by a sound? How would you describe the sound? I see, a ‘rustling.’ So you went to explore. And what did you find? One Mr. Sebastian in the kitchen with his hands in the cookie jar? Is this Mr. Sebastian in the courtroom today? You’re sitting on his lap? Aha! Proof, your honor, that Sebastian was not, as he claims, folding the laundry by himself last week Wednesday. He was, in fact, shoving a cookie in his face! This also explains where all the cookies went! Aha!”

At this point, the courtroom usually erupts with laughter and we adjourn without a final verdict. That’s the thing about the relationship courtroom: Sometimes it just feels better when both sides can voice their positions. There need not be a real punishment for the offender.

I will continue to think I’m right and I’m sure Sebastian is still convinced that I didn’t prove a thing. But he does have a helpful hint for those court cases in which you are on the defensive side: If all else fails, Evade the accusation. You say, “I don’t know to what you are referring. I do not recall that instance.”

Admit to nothing, then no one will ever know for sure — even if the prosecution proved their point.  Dear readers, I must clarify something for those of you who are puzzled. My column in MidWeek’s June 8 issue, “Needing A Tell-it-like-it-is Friend,” received much response — mostly from readers who thought I was announcing the demise of my relationship with Sebastian. This is an incorrect interpretation.

In that column, I was not speaking of Sebastian, who is, in fact, quite a good boyfriend. I was talking about an old relationship and the important role my “tell-it-like-it-is” friend, Kelly, played in helping me end it.

I apologize for any confusion, especially to my friend Sherrie (aka Sebastian and my matchmaker), who frantically called me eight times to find out if I was OK, and to ask the necessary question, “What did he do?!”

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