Under Analysis: An inherently dangerous pickle

By Mark Levison

My wife, Cheryl, has an I.Q. far higher than most lawyers I know and is exceptionally creative. My well-honed lawyer logic doesn’t impress her, and some arguments just are not worth the effort.

Since Cheryl is a new bride, and because I am training to be an adequate husband, I recently decided to give her a birthday surprise and take her to her favorite American city, New Orleans. A few days before I planned to leave, however, she had a run in with some giant pickles.

It seems very large pickles, in very large jars, were on sale at a very large discount grocer. Cheryl is drawn to “bargains” like the proverbial moth to a flame. (Friends claim to have actually seen her foaming at the mouth near a “sale”, but I know better than to say such a thing). In this particular instance, the bargain draw was just too overpowering. The price point was way below market, the pickles were way bigger than usual, and the jars themselves were monumental. We’re talking at least two and a half gallons of pickles!

Cheryl was so excited she called to tell me what she had discovered. Although, I didn’t want to be negative, I couldn’t help but remind her we already had a similarly large jar of sliced pickles at home.

She dismissed that fact, however, pointing out that as I had noted, the old pickles were sliced.

Despite my best argument, Cheryl purchased the magnum jar of former cucumbers and headed home, continuing to talk to me while carrying the spoils of her successful bargain to the roost. I heard the car stop, the door open, the door close, the sound of feet on the sidewalk and then, all of sudden...an explicative which rhymed with a famous Peking poultry dish, yelled louder than I’d ever heard my betrothed scream over a phone — followed virtually immediately by “So much for the pickle jar”. Cheryl, queen of the bargain, had dropped her prize squarely on her foot, and the pickle juice was gushing through the gutter and over her toes like Lake Pontchartrain through the Ninth Ward. I couldn’t help but laugh, but the funny part didn’t last that long.

Once inside, Cheryl realized the liquid wasn’t pickle juice at all — it was blood. It’s still not clear to me why she couldn’t initially distinguish between pickle juice and blood. I guess she was simply in denial and grieving over the demise of such a great bargain.

In truth, Cheryl has been known to get a little panicky at times. She screamed over the phone that she may have cut a vein, and wanted me to forsake the settlement agreement I was drafting, and rush to the drugstore for butterfly bandages. I thought to myself, at least she didn’t tell me she had cut an artery.

Of course, I hurried to the scene like the gallant litigator/knight that I believe myself to be. When I walked into the bathroom, however, blood was everywhere and still pulsing out of her foot. I staggered backwards and started to gag. She told me to stop being such a wimp and to get to work. From the outset, it was clear to me that the impending task was well beyond my meager abilities. Although I applied the makeshift sutures, I convinced Cheryl — under strong protest —that she had to go to the emergency room.

Seven hours later, the woman at the hospital stitching her up, while quite nice, was still fuming over the divorce between her and her lawyer-husband. The divorce occurred twenty years earlier. As she sewed she relived the highlights of the legal battle as if it occurred yesterday. Needless to say, she did a very bad job.

Not to be thwarted by some oversized Gherkin, we still headed to the Big Easy a few days later. Sitting on the veranda of our bed and breakfast, we took inventory of the scar that stretched across Cheryl’s foot. Cheryl mentioned lawsuit. Of course, being a creative sort, she wasn’t thinking about suing the hospital, she wanted to prove a positive point to the putative pickle people. When I expressed doubts that such a claim existed, she reminded me, with “that look” in her eye, that I was a clever lawyer and she was certain I could fashion a theory relating to the obviously improper jar grip design. We are in Louisiana, for heaven sakes. She reminded me, it’s illegal to tie an alligator to a fire hydrant, here. If a belt manufacturer (or perhaps a drunk) were to steal an alligator — which may or may not be tied to a fire hydrant — he could be sent up river for 10 years. Even better, a person can get a 20-year sentence for urinating in the City water supply. (That may seem like something nobody would ever do, unless of course, you’ve actually been on Bourbon Street.) It’s also illegal to rob a bank and then shoot the teller with a water pistol. Heck, they even have laws prohibiting rituals involving the ingestion of blood, urine or fecal matter (legislation that must be directed at your run-of-the-mill Voodoo practitioner) and there’s actually a law that says a judge can throw you in jail for a year, just for making a false promise. Surely, she implored, there has got to be a law against selling an unsuspecting customer a perilous pickle?

Later that evening, having enjoyed a couple Pat O’Brien hurricanes, I suggested we make it a class action.

Under Analysis is a nationally syndicated column. Mark Levison is a member of the law firm Lathrop & Gage L.C. You can reach the Levison Group in care of this paper or by e-mail at comments@levisongroup.com.
© 2010 Under Analysis L.L.C.