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I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately. I’m on what some people call the Rubber Chicken Circuit. Public-speaking engagements. Over the past couple of years, I’ve traveled to Honolulu, Tulsa, Omaha, New York City, Rapid City, Seattle, San Francisco, Orange Beach, Alabama, Palm Desert, and Kona. This isn’t natural. People who make all their court appearances don’t usually move around so much. But folks in other parts of the country seem to have come up a little short on entertainment this year, and they’ve decided 30 minutes of listening to a Californian is probably funnier than anything Fox or the WB are liable to come up with. So they’ve dangled chicken cordon bleu or chicken cacciatore or chicken teriyaki or whatever combination of dead bird and starch is indigenous to their area, and I have risen to the bait. It’s been a great deal for Kelly and me. They treat us like royalty. We get to stay in beautiful hotels, go to dress-up parties, watch the nightly news in strange and exotic places, and convince people they were absolutely right about Californians. Kelly calls it “Being rich, part time.” I call it “Slandering an entire state just by being myself.” Because I figure I do enough damage to California’s image just by showing up, I work real hard at not adding further embarrassment to that calumny. I turn off my cell phone on the plane. I “remember that the white zone is for loading and unloading of passengers only.” And I do not carry monkeys in my underwear. This last item is a fairly recent decision. Not the conduct. That’s always been my practice. I’ve never carried monkeys in my underwear. Honest. But only recently have I realized there was a decision involved. I don’t recall ever making a conscious choice not to carry monkeys in my underwear. It just never occurred to me that was an option. But it is. I know this because, “A man nabbed with two endangered pygmy monkeys in his pants after his flight from Thailand landed at Los Angeles International Airport pleaded guilty Tuesday to smuggling protected wildlife.” The Copley News Service says so, and I have no reason to doubt it. No reason, that is, other than the fact it is hard for me to imagine sharing my underwear with monkeys! Think about this. The man had pygmy monkeys in his underwear. Live ones. How long does a flight from Thailand to Los Angeles take? Twenty hours? At least that. And it’s probably not nonstop. Twenty hours. Compare that time to the maximum amount of time you would want pygmy monkeys hanging out in your crotch. If the two numbers are within 19 hours and 59 minutes of each other, I have been defrauding all those people in the other states: You should be the one modeling California nut cake at bar conferences nationwide, not me. “In entering his plea, Robert John Cusack, 45, of Palm Springs, acknowledged that he carried the monkeys, called lesser slow lorises, in the crotch area of his underwear on a Korean Air flight June 13.” The article describes the animals as “endangered,” but it’s unclear if lesser slow lorises are endangered in general or only when idiots play pocket pool with them. You know what amazes me about this? That we had to make sharing your shorts with monkeys a crime. That the conduct wasn’t its own deterrent. You know what doesn’t amaze me? That it was a Californian who did it. I don’t know whether our school system’s lagging behind or our access to country music is too limited or our ozone layer is letting us down, or what. But it’s just becoming harder and harder to maintain even a charade of sanity in the face of evidence like this. It’s hard to think up a convincing retort when someone from Mississippi says, “California: That’s where they put primates in their package isn’t it?” Well . . . mm . . . uh, yes it is. “Cusack was also found with four endangered birds of paradise and 50 orchids in his luggage.” I just don’t know what to make of this. I live in a city where 50 orchids isn’t a crime, it’s an outfit. But the birds of paradise thing turns out to be a little disturbing. These were real birds of paradise. They had feathers. One of them escaped and flew around LAX. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Johns, the sight of a dozen customs officials chasing a bird of paradise around the Tom Bradley International Terminal “created quite a ruckus.” I suspect that bird may have set the record for most endangered bird of paradise in the history of the planet. While I had not previously realized it, there were probably lots of people in the terminal who would gladly have stuffed it into their drawers if given half a chance. This is really more information than I wanted. I’ll probably never be able to look at people leaving international flights again without wondering what wondrous things they have packed in their pants. It must be tough to be a customs official. They must see this kind of aberrance every day. According to the Copley News Service, they detected the lorises “when Cusack was selected for a secondary examination at a U.S. Customs Service station at LAX.” RANDOM SELECTION? How do you think they “selected” him? Because his genitalia seemed unusually . . . active? Can’t you just imagine the decision-making process? “Say, Paul . . .” “Yeah?” “Take a look at that bloke’s crotch.” “I beg your pardon?” “No, seriously, that chap right over there. Aren’t his jewels a few more carats than most?” “Why, yes, Cliff, they are. They definitely are. And they seem to be swinging around more than most too.” “Whoa, did you see that? His left testicle just jumped up to his waist. You don’t see that very often, now do you?” “Oops, the right one’s started leaping around now. Either this guy’s a porn star or he’s subletting his Calvin Kleins.” “You think we have to search him?” “I think you have to search him; you’re the one that was staring at men’s crotches.” According to the article, “Cusack denied having anything hidden on his body.” Well, of course he did. This is not exactly the type of crime anybody cops to. “Excuse me, sir, United States Customs. Did you pack your own pants today? Have they been under your control since you packed them? Did anyone give you anything to carry in your underwear? Are there any small primates currently sharing space with your genitalia?” What are you gonna say? “Well . . . you know . . . now that you mention it, I dozed off for a few minutes in Kuala Lumpur and since then I’ve noticed that my briefs seem to have a fur lining that I don’t remember noticing before.” No, you just gotta brazen it out. “Lorises!!! You found lorises in my underwear!? How could that happen!? Dammit, I’m never flying Korean Air again!!” But by the time you reach arraignment, you should have benefited from the advice of counsel. Trust me. I spent a long time practicing criminal law. Believe me when I tell you there is no non-culpable explanation for monkeys in your underwear. I’m sure counsel advised him to make a clean breast of it. HE GIVES AND HE GIVES Under the terms of his plea bargain, he has agreed “to contribute $11,550 as a form of community service [instead of] cleaning up highways or volunteering at a hospital or lecturing school groups.” The feds are pragmatic: You give $11,550 to the community, that’s a service. Hence, “community service.” Forget the highways; show us the money. Cusack’s also looking at jail time and a $10,000 fine. I hope he doesn’t get jail time. You can imagine where monkey nuzzlers rate in the prison hierarchy. Jail time could be cruelly and unusually unpleasant for this guy. But my favorite part of the plea agreement is that Cusack must “pay $3,450 in restitution.” I can only assume that’s emotional distress restitution to be paid to the monkeys. Who certainly deserve it. William W. Bedsworth is an associate justice at the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana, Calif. He can be reached at [email protected]. This article originally ran in The Recorder , a San Francisco newspaper affiliated with Legal Times.

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