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My skirt came back from the dry cleaner with a tag on it. It read ‘This garment is stained. Attempts to remove the stains have been unsuccessful, and further stain removal attempts could cause lasting damage to the garment’.

Let me start by saying that I own three nice things. Now the dry cleaner has insulted one of my nice things and deemed it unfit for wear. What happened to, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t insult my skirt, stupidhead!’ I knew that the skirt was stained. I was wearing it when my son used it as a tissue, oblivious to the irony that he was holding an actual tissue in his hand. I was perfectly happy to go on wearing it and saying ‘oh my, how did that get there?’ anytime someone classy walked by. And by classy, I mean anyone who has not recently been used as a tissue.

I understand the dry cleaner’s need to exculpate himself, but I found the tag very condemning. It should have said ‘Impressive – you even love the snotty kids! Allow us to buy you nice things numbers four and five.’

So add the dry cleaner to the list of people who I feel are judging me. Atop this list are the health food enthusiasts that I run into at the grocery store. Were grocery stores owned and operated by the hyper-insecure, the produce section would be at the end of the store. That way, when other people looked in your cart and saw only kit-kats, they would just assume that you hadn’t gotten to the healthy section yet. Instead, the self-assured managers put the produce in front, so it ultimately gets covered by those M&M yogurts that are so clearly a dessert but we pretend are lunch, and the health nuts look at you smugly over their piles of leeks and kohlrabi. I have a leek too, you know, it just happens to be hiding under my cheese curls.

I feel judged by telemarketers whom I decline to support, by my dentist for being an inconsistent flosser, and by mothers of babies for having a daughter who is desperate to know what eyeballs feel like. Perhaps this is a societal epidemic of judginess, or perhaps something else is at play.

There is an adage that says ‘When you point a finger at someone three fingers point back at you’, meaning you likely possess the quality which you accuse others of having. I admit that I have entertained the possibility that I feel judged because I myself am judgmental. And in all honesty it is true that I occasionally notice how many of your nice things have snot on them.
But you don’t have to worry about my overcritical eye. My inferiority complex is established enough that when I judge you, you always come out looking good. On your worst day, I still imagine that you know how to prepare kale and keep your clothes clean. I picture you flossing while politely pledging money to Swiss veterans, and if I ever see your kid poking at someone else’s eyes, I just watch and hope he’ll give my daughter a detailed account of the experience.

So my judgmental nature doesn’t make me a bad person, it just makes me a little lame and sad. But being sad sometimes is not so bad. Lucky for me I’m already wearing a tissue.