Nolo contendere

RANGE: From your first bed wetting and that broken heirloom vase, through hooky, dented fenders, broken curfews, parking violations, prima facie evidence of adultery, broken contracts, missed dental appointments, late payments, and the final bed wetting, Alibi Elf is there, to get you off the hook with a plausible explanation. Sometimes.
HABITS: If one’s conscience functions as a judge, then Alibi Elf may be said to be everybody’s personal defense attorney, his briefcase bulging with extenuating circumstances and cover stories. He provides the dog who ate the homework. He has a large stock of readily available malfunctioning watches, sick friends, bus and plane schedule irregularities, terrible splitting migraines (the worst you’ve ever had), and (during the World Series) expired elderly relatives. He is not, himself, very reliable, and sometimes sends one of the junior partners around to handle the action. These “Poor” and “Lame” Excuses can, at best, get you out of alimony proceedings with only a severe tongue-lashing or can plea-bargain a spanking offense down to “your room without dinner.” Like any successful lawyer, Alibi Elf is not concerned with matters of objective innocence or guilt, but so dazzling are his powers of justification and rationalization that he often inspires his clients with enough self-pitying self-righteousness to brazen out the case, despite mountains of damning evidence. “I didn’t know it was loaded!”; “I don’t remember!”; “I was drunk!”; and “I can’t help it, I’m a Taurus!” are among his typical motions for dismissal.
HISTORY: Alibi Elf is originally a Fay of French origin and was responsible for helping to establish his homeland’s curiously labyrinthine legal systems before emigrating to the New World. When the first British general lost the first conflict in the Revolutionary War, Alibi Elf was there to help him explain to his superiors that the disaster was the result of “faulty intelligence,” when the real faulty intelligence then, as now, was that of the officer in command. Over the years, Alibi Elf has been of great service to military men, but oddly not to cadets, who in most cases are taught to exorcise this creature with the simple phrase, “No excuse, sir.” Likewise, Alibi Elf has been of assistance to politicians (with varying degrees of success). It was he who prompted several “Abscam” defendants to explain to incredulous juries that they were attempting to entrap the FBI agents from whom they had taken bundles of hundreds. Alibi Elf keeps very busy in Washington, issuing cover stories through press agents he has inspired and offering explanations and amplifications “not for attribution.” These follow on the heels of each policy disaster or personal scandal. “Sorry about that” and “the President misspoke himself” are two fairly recent examples of his work.
SPOTTER’S TIPS: The look of outraged innocence in the eyes of an alleged perpetrator is an almost certain sign that he (or she) is busy consulting with Alibi Elf, especially if it is accompanied by the words, “I won’t dignify that accusation with a reply.” Explanations that begin “Frankly” or “In all honesty” are inspired by his counsel and are, therefore, neither frank nor honest. Mortals calling upon the aid of this supernatural spirit do so, as might be expected, in a time-honored, ritual manner. They assume a facial expression of absolute candor and proceed to testify—with their fingers crossed.

*As legal aid to New Hampshire’s Dan Webster, Alibi Elf once helped beat the Devil.
**Under the spell of the Mira Chimera, we wonder things like, “How do I look from the back?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *