Judgment is a tricky thing. I find that when I’m discussing something with someone, they often might become uncomfortable with the subject matter and say something like, “Well, I don’t like to judge.” What a line of bullshit. That has to mean one of two things. Either you are at a loss for words and want the conversation to end, or you have set yourself up on some sort of self-righteous pedestal. Of course you judge. We all do. It’s natural and good to do so. How can we possibly make a reasonable go at this life without making judgments? When I meet someone, I make certain observations about them. For instance, if they have shifty eyes, I might be inclined to mistrust them. As I get to know them, it may become clear that there is a different reason for the shiftiness, but until that happens, I have to interpret what I know about them. I had a friend say, “I don’t like to make judgments until I know the whole story.” Well I find it hard to believe that anyone ever really has the whole story. Let me make some examples. Recently a lieutenant general was quoted in a newspaper article as saying, "It's fun to shoot some people... You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them." Now, I don’t have to know anything else about this man to know certain things about him. I don’t need to know the context of what he said, as there is no context where this sort of statement would be appropriate. Or, another example, I recently saw a video taken from a hidden camera of a woman smacking a baby in the head. I don’t need to know anything else about her to know that her privilege of being around children should be revoked. Of course, when you cross the line into pigeonholing people just for the sake of making you feel superior, this is wrong. I think this is the thing we are resisting when we say we don’t judge. We don’t want to become like that. As well we shouldn’t. But we must not think that judging is a bad word. It is a thing we ought to do. In fact, I’m sure we don’t do enough of it. I mean in the right way. We’ve got right-wingers judging left-wingers, and vice versa. All to prove one’s own “rightness.” (Right about being left? Left about being right?) So, on a circular path, we return… judgment is a tricky thing. I think of many a professing Christian who quotes the bible, but if you return to the original meaning of the word, we are admonished not to judge in the sense of deciding condemnation and punishment. We are actually told that we should judge things and even the behavior of people. But we are also told many other things to add to that, which protects us from the wrong sort of judgment. So please just don’t talk to me about this shit unless you are prepared to give an account for what you say. Because I’ll call you on it.
Living in Utah, there’s a big push for skiers. I believe everyone in our family has tried it, at least once. I know Erika became quite an avid skier for a time. But we all have our stories to tell. I won’t bore you with mine now. Just suffice it to say that it was a premonition of my entire marriage. I will share, though, my mother’s story. She has a friend who lived in this area at the time. She said, “Now, Ginny… you have GOT to try skiing! It’s just the greatest thing to do!” Mom protested… Bernie persisted… finally convincing mom to use Bernie’s hubby’s equipment and take a shot at trying to make it down a hill without tumbling. All prepared for the big day (which means being sure to bring along a thermos full of gin & tonic) they headed up to the slopes. Mom became frustrated time after time because when you fall, it is certainly not easy to get up again! We all know you do a lot of falling on that first day too. At one point, very nearly at the end of her rope… struggling and struggling to set herself aright again… an older gentleman shussssshed up and said, (I’m imagining a grinning man with arms akimbo like superman) “Now if you want to get up, you have to put your arms here and there and put your legs here and there and push this and that and move this way and that way and… voila! You’ll be up!” Mom looked squarely up at him and said, “Fuck off!” Which he did. Bernie nearly fell off her skis laughing. Mom somehow stood up and began to ski down the hill, and finding that she had no way to stop when she reached the bottom, she simply found a bus to run into. She took off her gear, grabbed her thermos, went to the lodge, put her feet up and proceeded to finish the day off emptying that thermos.
We have a family tradition. On Superbowl Sunday, we get together to play Mah Jongg, in the style set by the Wright-Patterson OWC.
“During the 1920’s when Wright-Patterson AFB was still McCook Field, Mah Jongg players began to compile their own rules and hands based on the ancient Chinese game. The first edition of the rule book was the work of Sylva Bauer and Helen Morris. The basis of the current book has been the cumulative experience of 70 years of service-connected Mah Jongg players.” (Interesting stuff, eh?)
Most people associate the term “Mah Jongg” with the bizarre matching game available for use on your PC. I have yet to discover why this has any association with the game I know. But we have fun. Over the years, the dynamics have changed. When we were still young and learning the game, we would go to a real superbowl party where the tables were set up for the women to play the tile game, while the men watched the game... (which I never really saw them do… I’m reasonably sure they didn’t even know the score, until the game was over… they were much too busy binking dreers and poking smot… okay, maybe not poking smot… but I do know the ladies kept them busy mixing the drinks… “Garcon! My glass is empty!”) And as time marched on, some of the names and places changed… but we still make some feeble attempt at the ritual…
Those were the days of the ya-yas. This Sunday, we did indeed spend the day playing Mah Jongg… binking dreers… (and other libations)… eating yummies… and watched while the next generation of the petite ya-ya clan(Katie) wiped up the floor with us!