Know Your Miranda July Rights

“If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish. Do you like my ruffled collar? I made it.”

miranda_july

Photo courtesy of Daniel Boud

You have the right to remain silent, or to take the song lyrics you found stapled to a telephone pole and recite them to a child.

Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law, even if you tell about the time you used the fishbowl water to put out the fire you made in the living room. You were trying to summon the ghost of your mom’s stepmom with a ceremony you read about on Wikipedia.

You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. But the future is a hard concept. As in, how do you determine exactly when that is, especially pertaining to your friend Annette who sleeps in her closet in the same leotard every night? Three-hundred years in the future, Annette’s eight-year-old great-great-great-granddaughter will see Annette dancing ballet in the rain outside her bedroom window.

If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish. Do you like my ruffled collar? I made it.

If you decide to answer any questions now, without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering until you have an attorney present. But regardless, there was the time Jenny and I climbed the big dead plum tree in the woods behind my aunt’s house. Sitting in the highest branches, we saw two teenagers in the alley, singing that song by Jennifer Lopez about being “Jenny from the Block.” It reminded me of the time I slept with Jenny’s boyfriend, and he called me by her name during sex. I had the right to stop answering questions until I had an attorney present then, too.

Do you understand these rights, as I have explained them to you? Do you understand how big the moon looks walking in the wet street after that birthday party? You told me I was pretty but then spit an odd blue liquid in my drink. (I stole your bike, though, so we are even.) Do you understand how cold my arms were walking home that night? Did you hear me whispering to my phone, curled under the kitchen table with a blanket, having not dialed your number?

Nathan Pensky is a writer and editor living in rural Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter.