All right. By popular request, here is the Judge Judy story. Worth all the hubbub? You be the judge. (pun intended).
A couple of weeks ago I found an email in my in-box from a producer at Judge Judy. It read, and I'm paraphrasing because I barely remember it, "Hi, Brian, I wanted to talk to you about your case. Give me a call. Rebecca." She then listed her work number and her cell. I could only look bewilderedly at the screen because I had no idea what the email was in reference to. It didn't look like spam. But then again, maybe if I were to call the number, I'd get a sales pitch about a work-at-home scheme, or a time-share property, or some other odious scam. I deleted the email.
A few days later (Jan.8), I get a phone call. It's Sunday night at about 9:15 or so, and I'm in the middle of a rockin' game of Splinter Cell. I push pause and look at the phone. Caller ID shows the call's coming from SoCal. I suspect I'm about to talk to Heath. In a way, I was. I answer the phone. "Hello?" I say.
"Hi, is this Brian?"
"Hi, this is Rebecca from Judge Judy."
"Oh, hi!" I say, as though Rebecca from Judge Judy was an old and dear friend.
"So, who else have you talked to?" she says, in a voice that says she's willing to do a little business to keep my allegiances correctly aligned, namely with her and her show.
I explain that I'd gotten her email but that I didn't have any idea what it was about. She seemed puzzled but not discouraged. I suggested maybe my wife had submitted a case (though, this was a longshot at best, as I'm sure Peggy would attest). Rebecca said, "Hmmm," and then started to read the case "I" had submitted aloud to me.
"'My friend Shawn," she began. I knew it was Heath the instant I heard the name. "Slept on my couch for a whole year. Then I came home and found him having sex with my wife...'"
I was already laughing, though it was laughter tinged with anxiety. Was this woman going to lay the blame at my feet for Heath's prank and give me hell? At this, the first sign something's amiss, Rebecca says only, "Oh, was this a joke?" She didn't sound angry, just tired. I guess if she was working at 6:15 on a Sunday night, she probably was tired.
"Yes, I'm sorry. It's this friend of mine," I say. "He does these sort of things. I'm really sorry."
And then she read the rest, sort of to herself but loud enough so I could hear. "My friend Shawn slept on my couch for a year, and then one day I found him having sex with my wife. They took off and he stole my prize Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig, Lulululululu." Though this woman was obviously feeling a little victimized, I couldn't help but laugh at the pot-bellied pig thing. The crowning touch. "You know, now that I read it, it does sound like a joke." I apologized again, hoping she was finding it, if not funny, than midly amusing. "I love having my time wasted," she said. "Me too," I said, attempting to commiserate. She sounded like she was closing things up on her desk for a second and then said, "Mm-hm, ok. Bye." Hang up.
What I thought was funniest about the call, was when she said, "Who else have you talked to?" Because not only were the producers of Judge Judy hot for my sordid tale of a shameless moocher running off with my wife and, even worse, my pot-bellied pig, she was sure other TV judge shows would also be hot for it, and that the reason I'd ignored her email was because I'd been shopping it around LA looking for just the right fake judge to give me justice against Shawn. Anyway, there it is. I laughed about it for a few days, now, you too can laugh.