Letters of the Law

DEREK JETER, shortstop of the New York Yankees, having been called as a witness on behalf of the defense of LIFE OF E’S, after being duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

Q         Mr. Jeter, I am going to ask you a few questions. I’ll ask that you speak clearly and direct your answers to the jury. Understood?

A         Okay.

Q         Can you tell the court where you were the evening of December 7th, 2011?

A         I was at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Brooklyn.

Q         What was the occasion?

A         I was with other members of an organization I belong to called Life of E’s.

Q         Can you explain for the court the exact nature and purpose of this organization?

A         Life of E’s, to quote our mission statement, is “an exclusive society of thoughtful and committed citizens invested in the preservation and advancement of the mutual condition of its members.”

Q         In your own words, Mr. Jeter, what is that mutual condition?

A         Basically, we’re all famous people who have the letter “e” as the only vowel in our names.

Q         What year did you join this organization?

A         My rookie year — 1996. The society threw me a welcoming party hosted by Werner Klemperer.

Q         The actor who played Colonel Klink on “Hogan’s Heroes”?

A         That’s correct. He was a great mentor to me. I remember he said to me that night “One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”

Q         Whom was he quoting?

A         Our society’s founder, Helen Keller. Then Mel Ferrer presented me with a baseball player figurine with a plaque that read “Life of E’s Most Valuable Player (Except for Pee Wee Reese).” That made me laugh.

Q         Mr. Jeter, what was the purpose of your visit to the Brooklyn Marriott on the night in question?

A         Life of E’s had booked the ballroom at the hotel for our annual Celebrit-E Karaoke Night. It’s a fun event. When I’m on the mike, I pretty much stick to hip-hop. Ellen DeGeneres is partial to singer-songwriters. Jewel and Cher often finish the night with a duet. I like Cher a lot. She gave me a T-shirt once that I still have. It says “Click on this E-Male.”

Q         In your opinion, Mr. Jeter, was the night’s karaoke event a success?

A         A success? No. No, it was not. It was anything but a success.

Q         What happened?

 A        Well, when I got to the lobby that night I saw Cher standing by the front desk and we exchanged hugs. She starts telling me about her cab driver, a Hindu with a lisp, which reminds her of a dirty joke she once heard from Bert Wheeler. We then turn and tell the person behind the desk we’ll be getting set up in the ballroom, but there’s a problem.

Q         What was the problem?

A         They had double-booked the ballroom. Cher goes completely ape. She’s screaming “That’s impossible!” and whipping her hair extensions around. I duck to avoid her hair and then I…then I…Sorry. This is still very hard for me to talk about.

Q         Take your time, Mr. Jeter.

A         Then I turn and I see what — “who,” I should say — is pressing up against my shoulder, pushing me to the side and wedging herself in between me and Cher.

Q         Who was it?

A         Julia Roberts.

Q         The movie actress?

A         Yes.

Q         What was Julia Roberts doing at the Marriott in Brooklyn?

A         As it turned out, meeting with her own organization, the Sequoias.

Q         The Sequoias?

A         It’s like Life of E’s but its members have all the vowels represented once each in their names.

Q         Wow.

A         No kidding. The hotel had double-booked us with the Sequoias. As Cher and Julia Roberts start having words, I ask if there are any other venues available but all the hotel’s facilities are filled up. Meanwhile, most of our people are showing up in the lobby and wondering what’s going on. Renee Zellweger comes over and says, “I think I just saw Evita outside having a cigarette with a Supreme Court justice.”

Q         Patti Lupone and David Souter?

A         Yeah. And sure enough, seconds later, they’re both walking up to the front desk to where we’re all standing. And others keep coming. Here comes Arlo Guthrie. Then Greg Louganis. Pretty soon everyone is aware of the misunderstanding and no one’s happy about it and no one’s backing down. I really don’t like how things are going so I suggest to my people that we find another location for our karaoke night. But Cher and Ellen DeGeneres aren’t having it. They’re flashing their teeth and Phil Donahue is snarling back at them. It’s really getting to be a Yankees-Red Sox kind of situation, but then, in an instant, all of the Sequoias back off. They all back away and bow down. They all just bow.

Q         What were they doing?

A         They were actually prostrating themselves.

Q         Why were they prostrating themselves?

A         Their leader had arrived.

Q         Who is their leader?

A         Emmylou Harris.

Q         Emmylou Harris is the leader of the Sequoias?

A         Yes.

Q         Why?

A         Yes.

Q         Yes, what?

A         Y.

Q         That’s what I asked, Mr. Jeter. Why?

A         Yes.

Q         Yes?

A         I’m sorry?

THE DEFENSE: May I approach, Your Honor?

THE COURT: You may.  


Q         Mr. Jeter, I’d like to clarify your last answer. To the best of your knowledge, Emmylou Harris is the leader of the Sequoias because her name includes a single appearance of each of the vowels as well as the letter “y” which, in the case of the name “Emmylou,” is being used as a vowel?

A         That’s correct.

Q         This fact, judging by the reaction of the other members of the Sequoias upon seeing Emmylou Harris, makes her some kind of god in their eyes?

A         Super-deity — yes.

Q         In your opinion, was it the godlike powers of Emmylou Harris and not the actions of the members of Life of E’s that were responsible for the nearly $91,000 in property damage which was created that night in the lobby of the Brooklyn Marriott?

A         For the most part, yes.

Q         For the most part?

A         Well, Emmylou Harris shows up and Cher, as always, calls her “beaouitch.” Then Emmylou Harris calls Cher “One-E,” her put-down for Cher. Cher then gets a hand on Emmylou’s throat to, you know, choke her, but Emmylou sends Cher flying into a baggage rack. Then, using her powers of levitation, Emmylou lifts the whole front desk and crashes it into one of the lobby’s walls, nearly crushing two Hasidic men who are at the hotel for a night of speed dating.

Q         Holy smokes.

A         Yeah. And then, suddenly, there was a blinding white light.

Q         A white light?

A         It was coming from the front door of the hotel. After adjusting my eyes, I see it’s an old man. I’ve never seen him before this moment. He’s old…like mad old. Wispy white-beard old. I look around, and the others are all whispering “It’s him! It’s him!”

Q         Did the others tell you who it was?

A         Yes. But I cannot say his name.

Q         Is he in this courtroom today, Mr. Jeter?

A         Yes.

Q         Could you please point at him and describe what he’s wearing?

A         He has on a red-and-white plaid hunting jacket.

THE DEFENSE: We ask that the court recognize that the witness has identified Pete Seeger.

THE COURT: The court recognizes that the witness has identified Mr. Seeger.


Q         You did not know Pete Seeger existed until the night your society and the Sequoias ran into one another in the lobby of the Brooklyn Marriott?

A         No, I did not. I had been told stories — rumors, mostly. They call him the Great Wimoweh. Nobody speaks his real name. He’s our leader, our god.

Q         So, when Pete Seeger showed up that night, he and Emmylou Harris proceeded to engage each other in supernatural combat. Is that correct, Mr. Jeter?

A         Yes.

Q         Mr. Jeter, do you see Emmylou Harris in this courtroom today?

A         I do not.

Q         Do you know where Emmylou Harris is today?

A         Bellevue Hospital, I believe. It is rumored she went mad after the Great Wimoweh enlisted a close friend of his to sing to Emmylou, over and over again, the classic refrain from “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” The friend was happy to volunteer because her name contains the same vowels, in consecutive order, famously sung in the song.

Q         Mr. Jeter, is the name of that friend Celine Dion?

A         Yes.

Q         Thank you very much.

THE COURT: You may step down, Mr. Jeter. We will recess until two o’clock at which time we will have the closing arguments.

THE DEFENSE: To avoid any suspicion of bias, Your Honor, my client asks that instead of “closing arguments” the court use the term “clsng rgmnts.”

David Levinson Wilk writes for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.