The Insider’s Guide to Life: The Official List of Things You Can Safely Judge

ColumnDo jeggings make the list? Read on to find out.

You say judgment, I say intuition, or, in the words of one of our editors: “It’s just marketing!”

Few things feel as gratifying as judgment. If, like me, you are saddened by the lack of respect judgment gets these days, is this post ever for you. Getting away with being judgmental anymore is really just a matter of finding the right things to be judgmental about. I’ve learned a lot about this lately, what with inadvertently enraging video gamers and cyclists and fans of the Apostle Paul and people who cannot stir. There are acceptable things you can judge these days, like the Housewives of Beverly Hills and augmented breasts and hair extensions, but maybe I’m being redundant. And then there are all the unacceptable things you can judge, or rather, the things you cannot judge, and the danger mainly lies in not knowing what these things are until the people who are great fans of these things let you know. Here you thought you were safe in judging canned cold spaghetti, but you’ve actually revealed yourself to be a pasta elitist with no appreciation for the common canned-spaghetti-eater’s reality.

Judgment may be all right for hosts on Bravo or Simon Cowell in spite of his awful haircut or the Supreme Court (but only during some administrations), but how dare you, mere fellow human, exercise any hint of intelligence and experience and wisdom and insight and taste and perspective. Everything is equal and wonderful and good and moral and beautiful, because someone else said so. Their judgment is not a judgment the way your judgment is a judgment. One word: Buddha. He really clears things up.

Anyway! Here is a list of acceptable things to judge no matter what, because the truth is that we all need to judge and with the current judgment against judgment, it’s getting harder to find things we can all judge together equally in correct fairness and unconditional acceptance and comprehensive agreement and inoffensive unanimity, safely.

Think of this as judgment with a condom on. We’ll start with judging the homes of others, because that’s where the heart is, and move on from there.

Fake Fruit.

We, the people, are going to judge your fake fruit. I am not talking about the handmade blown glass pear on the mantle. It’s not my style, but it might be yours. Besides, I have a glass bird on my mantle, so who am I to judge? Fake fruit in bowls that could serve actual fruit, on the other hand? You’re just leaving yourself wide open for judgment. How would you feel about someone’s kitchen island being anointed with bowls of fake cottage cheese? You’d think it was pretty dumb. That’s because it is. And so is your fake fruit.

Fake Christmas trees.

Fake Christmas trees. On second thought, possibly not okay to judge. Probably not best to take the niche approach to judgment of others’ holiday decor choices, at least in this case. As a child, I felt sorry for the families that had fake Christmas trees, until I learned it was because some people are allergic to trees but not to pliable byproducts of the crude industry. As an adult, I am not sure which is less green and therefore more offensive: chopping down trees for a holiday or making them out of plastic. You know what? The Christmas tree is actually the worst possible thing to attempt to judge that I could ever come up with. We’re not judging them, plastic or living, we’re just not. Let’s move along from this entirely before we’re accused of being in favor of the Christmas Tree Tax.

Fake flowers.

The 80s were filled with them because the 80s were filled with two things: bouquets of iris and crafting. If you lived through the 80s, you might remember that they were mostly about wreaths. Crafting, especially the crafting of wreaths, evolved to using real preserved flowers around 1989, but for a time, fake flowers were more abundant than the real thing, and it wasn’t until 1994 when everyone became allergic to dust en masse (this was pre-gluten) that fake flowers fell out of vogue. Sadly, they are still present in many healthcare waiting rooms, but we don’t judge the people who save our teeth or our lives because it’s a little rich asking them to be good decorators. Your neighbor, however? Free game.

Lawn flamingos.

Stick squarely to strongly disliking fake flora and fauna, and you can sleep the deep, safe sleep of completely irrelevant judgment. Absolutely okay to judge. The only person on earth who will take umbrage at your judgment is Jonathan Adler, and?

Anything sort of old but not too old.

Can you believe we all used to like [insert any activity, hobby, show, celebrity, fashion item, personal accessory, gadget, scientific inaccuracy, religious belief except you’ll still want to leave the Ark thing alone, the witch drowning is completely okay grounds for judgment though, pain reliever, tennis shoe, brand slogan, movie, jewelry trend, haircut, one hit wonder, music subgenre, political sound bite, other things and stuff most people had and did but don’t anymore between 9 and 14 years ago]? So ridiculous.

Now that’s what I call a list. It’s the kind of list they’ll make movies about. The kind of list children will study in textbooks. You might have been expecting a longer list, but the beauty of perfection is that it is simple.

Celebrations in the streets. Rain. Art. World Peace. Kumbayah. The Future. Go forth and judge.

This is the latest installment in your editor’s column, The Insider’s Guide to Life.

Image: Keith Trice