'You are hereby summoned to appear for jury service." I had not heard such powerful and stirring words since a knuckle-faced chump in a jumpsuit said to me, "You're going to need both brake pads replaced."
Standing barefoot in front of my mailbox I was overwhelmed by my dreamy anticipation of civic glory, warm visions of Henry Fonda in "Twelve Angry Men" and voracious ants. Cursing and hopping about on one besieged foot, I brushed the biters away, thanked the state of Arizona for this opportunity to serve and fell back into a prickly pear.
Deeply moved by my unbounded love of country and the words "Failure to appear may subject you to penalties," I leapt into action. I checked the website to see when and where I should show up and what I should wear.
Much to this snappy dresser's surprise I discovered Speedos and T-shirts emblazoned with "Hang 'em high" do not qualify as appropriate courtroom attire.
Wearing my splendid tuxedo, I found the courthouse at the corner of Bulldozer and Rubble, wound through the metal detector, past the uniformed wand waggers and into the juror assembly room where I scored a seat on the set of what appeared to be a Frank Capra movie about our justice system. Hundreds of civic-minded patriots happily whispered their diabolical plans for evading jury duty to each other. Watching Americans of all stripes and backgrounds pull together at a time like that was so heartwarming I sobbed.
My tears dried as I watched a 15-minute video featuring Arizona Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch demonstrating the proper way to buckle a seatbelt and pointing out where the emergency exits are located.
After a short wait of two to three months my name was called. Clerks revived me and asked me if I knew what year it was. I brushed off the cobwebs, stroked my long white beard, guessed "2155" and joined the herd of jurors being driven upstairs like cattle to the assigned courtroom where we were asked to stop making "mooing sounds" and were told that the culling would begin as soon as the main chute opened.
This moved one scholar among us to share the legal insights he found in "My Cousin Vinny." I was about to offer my substantive critique of "Legally Blonde" when we were called in.
The plaintiff, the lawyers, the judge and the guilty-as-heck "accused" person studied us, hoping to identify village idiots, blank slates, rubes and other ideal jurors.
Our judge was the game-show host and we were all contestants praying we'd give the wrong answers and get kicked off his show. We wanted to do whatever we could to ensure that only the finest jurors would be selected, and that meant anyone but we deeply flawed candidates who were tragically cursed with judgment-impairing bunions, debilitating hangnails or shopping to do.
The judge opened Round 1 with a daily-double question. "Do any of you know anyone associated with this case?"
I hit the buzzer for one hundred points. "The victim!"
"There is no victim in this case. Once again, do you know anybody associated with this case?"
"The victim's brother?"
"There is no victim. Do you have difficulty hearing?"
"Let's move on. Does anyone take any medication that makes you drowsy?"
"I do. I brought enough for everybody. Dixie cup?"
He homed in on me. "Do you read any magazine or newspapers?"
"American Bar Association Journal. I have news clippings about you glued to all four walls in my shed above 400 jars full of pickled toads."
"Have you served on a jury before?"
"Yes, your honor, I served on a jury once and we found the defendant not guilty because he made the wise choice of hiring the best lawyer money could buy, and he gave a simply dazzling tour de force performance that brought us to our feet, and that, your honor, is what justice is all about.
"In this case here, it looks to me as though the defendant's attorney has that appointed-by-the-court look, so I'm going to say "G-U-I-L-T-Y?"
"That's enough. Do you have any bumper stickers?"
"I have some with me. What do you need? They're $3 a piece or you can get 2 for $5."
"Are there any questions any of you think we should have asked?"
"Favorite prisons in history for $500! Johnny Cash sang here.
I was excused. "See the jury commissioner, first floor." I joined the parade of rejected Americans heading downstairs and felt terrible about what had happened. I had missed "Fox and Friends" and all of "Oprah" this morning. I looked at my juror's badge. It looked like something a sales associate at Justice-Mart would wear. I tossed it in the bin and scampered back to my studio.
I needed to take care of that annoying hangnail and finish writing my essay about the importance of sacrifice.
Email Star cartoonist David Fitzsimmons at firstname.lastname@example.org