Leila makes an enemy of jurisprudence

By Leila Sales

I teach gymnastics to small children. This is, in and of itself, the joke of this article, because anyone could tell you that small children tend to have the attention span of gnats studying algebra. I advise these small children NOT to jump off the balance beam headfirst, and yet they continually do. Why is this? Can they not hear me? Do they not understand words? Maybe they are just unable to do anything in life without putting themselves at risk of a spinal cord injury?

But I get along with these kids. Often they call me “mommy,” and then they look around for someone to call “daddy”—usually the other teacher, but if he’s missing, they are totally comfortable with referring to a mat or a high bar as their father. They are not picky.

As much as they like me, though, these kids also, apparently, are capable of hate. I was shocked to discover this when one day a girl said to me, “You see that boy who just came in? He’s in my class at school and he is my ENEMY.”

Her ENEMY? I was shaken by this proclamation. As far as I could tell, he was just an eight-year-old boy who was probably going to be really hot in a few years. I can’t tell for sure, seeing as he doesn’t have any of his adult teeth yet, but he has that I-will-be-hot aura. So a lady-killer, maybe, but an enemy? Don’t enemies, like, have large offices with scary looking machines and nefarious cats and maybe a motorized arm or two? Don’t enemies have theme music?

But it’s not just this girl who finds herself required to battle the forces of evil on a daily basis. I was talking to some college-aged guy the other night, and he informed me that he had made the mistake of hooking up with his enemy.

I’m sorry, WHAT? He’s twenty years old and he hooked up with his ENEMY? Am I missing out on something by not having an enemy here? I mean, Carl Schmitt might think so, but he might also think that Nazism is awesome, so I don’t entirely trust him. (Yes, that is the only thing I took away from soc last year: the fact that Carl Schmitt was a Nazi. Also, the fact that an invisible hand exists. Please don’t press me for any more details.)

I just can’t think of who I’d want my enemy to be. For a long time, Murky and Lurky were my enemies, and I guess that even now, if they left a Rainbow Brite video in order to terrorize the U of C, I would still devote myself to foiling their plans. But it seems unlikely that Murky and Lurky are going to give up on Rainbowland in favor of Chicago, which, let’s face it, does not have that much color in the first place.

Maybe I should choose an abstract noun as my enemy. Then, whenever a person entered the room, I could say, “Oh my God, there goes my enemy.” And someone would probably reply, “That dude over there?” And I could answer, “No—INJUSTICE.” Or FEUDALISM or RHETORIC or something. Doesn’t that sound nobler than having just one individual as an enemy?

The problem, though, is that I understand from the two people whom I know with enemies that your enemy ought to be someone whom you may have hooked up with in the past or could hook up with in the future. But I couldn’t very well hook up with RHETORIC, could I? “Hi, Mom, Dad, this is my new boyfriend, JURISPRUDENCE”? Awkward.

Maybe I should declare that my enemy is John-Cusack-exactly-the-way-he-was-in-Say Anything. Now THAT’S an enemy you could take home to your folks. And then we would get married and have children and he would teach them to kick box and I would teach them gymnastics and they would knock themselves unconscious on a weekly basis.

This is my life plan.