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Jun 052007

Townsman Rick sent in the following piece.

On Tuesday, June 28, 2005, at 9:00 in the morning, I was in the Family Court, in the J. Joseph Garrahy Building to finalize and formalize the dissolution of my marriage. On Tuesday, June 28, 2005, at 9:00 in the evening, I was about halfway through a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert at the Ryan Center, in Kingston, RI. These two activities may seem to contradict each other, but they’re also more similar than might originally appear.

Despite what I fervently hoped and believed as a child, Family Court is not a tribunal in front of which you could haul your parents when they continued to make you eat overcooked, mushy peas. It’s where divorces are perhaps not made but confirmed, and where the jealousies and betrayals that drive a couple apart are taken out for (hopefully) one last swing, this time with the force of law behind them. The single most important factor in the development of a human being is the time spent with his or her parents, and Family Court is where it is determined how much time your child will not spend with you.

As such, the J. Joseph Garrahy Building is a dingy place for dingy affairs to be conducted, with cinder-block walls and 1970s-era brown tile floors. For all its faults, it gives a look of dour impartiality, which is what you need to feel most when you’re in there.

The Ryan Center is another cinder-block palace that could just as well be set in Kokomo, Indiana, or Las Cruces, New Mexico. Maybe if your building has to play host to Ludacris, the Rhode Island Business Expo, and the Royal Lippizzaner Stallions, this is exactly the kind of drabness it needs. Like the Garrahy Building, it provides an impassive background for strong, loud emotions to be expressed.

Both proceedings began with an introduction of the person or persons we’ve all come to see – whether they be trumpeted as The Honorable (Name Withheld) or The Legends of Southern Rock – and their entrance to a crowd of people all of whom had risen to their feet.

I was brought to the witness stand, and in keeping with the laws of the state I was asked the question asked at all court proceedings – whether I solemnly swore or affirmed to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I replied, perhaps somewhat ironically given the circumstances, “I do.” Current Skynyrd frontman Johnny Van Zant asked the crowd at the Ryan Center the question asked at all rock proceedings, “How you doing tonight Rhode Island?” The crowd responded, “RAWR.” I detected no irony.
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