Friday, April 23, 2010

Shame on Me!

Shame on me…

I judged a book by its cover, and I’m not talking about what my book club read this month (American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld—don’t bother, we all hated it.) No, that one I judged by its content, which was sub-par, in contrast to Sittenfeld’s excellent “Prep” of a few years ago. But anyhoo…

I was watching the news while making dinner, and some video was shown of a public demonstration. To be honest, I was barely paying attention, so I couldn’t tell you what the issue was, or what the crowd was trying to achieve.

I looked up at the screen in time to see an enormous, middle-aged woman in a tight tee-shirt and shorts sitting on an aluminum lawn chair, holding up a hand-written sign that read,

“Do you think I am stupid?”

My immediate reaction was, Um, yeah.

Like, lady, don’t ask any question you don’t want to hear the answer to.

Now, this woman might be a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering who’s also earned a law degree and holds a black belt in karate and won the Pillsbury Bake-off. But I doubt it.

There’s something about the sign, and the look, and the groaning of the webbing on the chair that made me think otherwise.

I’ve tried honestly to figure out why this is. It’s truly not her weight—I have told you that I am definitely not at MY ideal weight, and some of my best friends struggle with their weight. That doesn’t establish any hierarchy of worthiness or smarts.

It’s not the tee-shirt. I wear tee-shirts sometimes. So, ditto on the hierarchy of value.

Is it the sign? The willingness to ask such a question and put it on what became, essentially a billboard? I believe so. Because if she was serious, and wanted to accomplish something by attending this rally, why wouldn’t her sign say, “Save the Whales”, or “Don’t Save the Whales”? Isn’t that the best way to make your point? If she had done that, I’d know what the story was about. Now all I have is my disdain for her, and my soggy trench coat as I walk the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. You know.

But I’m still ashamed.

And you still won’t like American Wife.


  1. Hi Leah! I really enjoyed reading your post, it brought up something I haven't thought about in a while...impulse judgements; most people don't even take the time to investigate or recognize that they are making the judgement in the first place so way to go for paying attention! Knowing is half the battle right? Whenever I catch myself judging harshly, after further investigation, I am shocked to understand that the reason I judge so harshly is because it's actually something in me that I am rejecting and projecting outwards. It can be a humbling experience for sure!
    The Naked Writer

  2. Good point...the sign says absolutely nothing. Use those "brains" to make sure the tiny little platform you're given to make a statement is what you REALLY want to say!

  3. You really do have a way with words!
    I catch myself in that frame-of-mind more often then I like. I think it hides an entire host of prejudices that were instilled (whether consciously or sub-consciously) in our youth: mayhap from parents, teachers, peers. If my education degree taught me anything, it's that the pre-K and early elementary school ages, the children are literal walking sponges (no, not SpongeBob's either).
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hey glad you found me and now I've found you too! I look forward to keeping up with your blog. And by the way that was me holding up the sign but I thought I wrote "Don't you think I'm Stupendous?"

  5. Hey Leah! I judge and am judged. I don't mean to, and try not to, but there it is. And yeah, you described it beautifully and stupid was the word. Dammit! See, I did it again. Indigo

  6. I make judgments all the time, and a sign like that would just BEG for one response: "Yes."

    I think a person who would display that sign might be feeling mistreated and overrun and abused...feelings that could be very legitimate or could be generated by misleading and manipulative media outlets. Unfortunately, that doesn't make the person any smarter.

  7. I liked the comment you left on the Saturday Sharefest post linking checking blog stats to scales. Thanks for the laughts!


  8. Leah-- Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest. As you suggested when you visited my site this morning, I am visiting yours. I read all the posts on the page, have added "degligee" to my vocabulary, and am going to subscribe to your feed on my way home. Yo, send them posts over here!

  9. Stopping by from SITS! Cute blog! =]

  10. Who oh why would you put that on the sign.

    Thanks for the honest opinion about the book. I have no time to waste!

    I love that you are the reigning champ of the Erma Bombeck writing competition!

    I enjoyed checking out your follower here. Where's my coffee?

    Thanks for stopping by on my SITS day.
    504 Main