By Patricia Kochel

“Thank you for coming,” my husband said to me as I got in the car. I gave him a slight smile. The smile of a martyr. Because he does so much for me, I was sacrificing my time. I generally do not like these large lawyer banquets for two reasons. One, I am not good at small talk. I don’t do it well. Too many awkward pauses trying to think of something non-intrusive to say. “How’s your wife/husband?” when I really want to ask, “How are you getting along with your wife/husband?”

“Beautiful weather today,” when I really want to ask “Do you like living in Ventura? Where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world? Why?” My friend Paula Shain asked me a great question years ago which I’ve used frequently in conversations, “What are you reading right now?” But that’s more for table conversation. My difficulty is in maintaining a conversation of polite small talk while standing.

The second reason I do not like these large lawyer gatherings is my ego. I walk into a room full of beautiful, successful and rich people. Then there’s me. I don’t go to my class reunions because people will ask questions and I will answer, “I’m a high school teacher, and I live in Ventura, the same town I was born and raised in.” How boring is that?

My husband is not a rich lawyer. But he’s exceptional. Half of his practice is pro-bono work, which is one reason it took me thirteen years to decide to marry him. He argues that compared to worldwide standards, he lives like a king. I counter by saying we live in Ventura, California, not the middle of the Amazon. It doesn’t matter what I say. I can’t convince him he’s not rich. And he is really, really happy.

It usually takes me a few days to restore my ego’s equilibrium and to realize how blessed and fortunate (and happy) I really am. I blame all my insecurities on my father. It’s an easy explanation.

Continue reading – January issue of CITATIONS (page 11)

Patricia Kochel is an inactive member of the State Bar. She is a counselor at Buena High School and the wife of attorney Ron Harrington

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