Tag Archives: Judge

I’m not here to judge anybody

I’m not here to judge anybody. Except for that guy sitting up front with the big cowboy hat. Hey pardner, we don’t wear cowboy hats around these parts. And even where they do, how is that at all acceptable? Like you don’t think anybody wants to see what’s going on up front? Maybe you could’ve taken a seat in the back? I’m just putting it out there, take a look around, nobody else is wearing anything even close to as big as what you’ve got on your head.

And again, I don’t want to judge, but what’s the point of a cowboy hat? You know, besides the dramatic increase in perceived head size. Maybe, take it off inside? It just seems like it would be a nice gesture, again, I don’t want to harp on it here, but front seat? Cowboy hat? Come on man, that’s just rude. Aren’t southern people supposed to be known for their good manners? Because I can’t think of anything less polite than still not having the decency to move, or at least take your hat off, after me going on and on about not being able to see.

It’s fine, it’s just, I hope you don’t mind complaining, the sound of me complaining during the whole movie. Or plastic crinkling or popcorn being chewed. You want to play passive aggressive? Yeah, well, I’m playing aggressive aggressive.  How much did that thing cost, like two hundred bucks? Do you have to get it professionally cleaned? It just comes off as silly. You look silly, you look like a big silly cowboy going to the movies and sitting right up front.

Hey, maybe if you sat all the way in the back, your hot could block the projector, and then nobody would be able to see anything. This is a free country, right? I’m just saying that maybe you could get in the way of everybody’s movie experience if you wear an even bigger cowboy hat, right? Like what is that, a ten gallon hat? Maybe go for the twenty, fifty, do they make hundred gallon cowboy hats?

You could get one so big that it envelops your whole body, OK, and then you’d be sitting inside the cowboy hat, and it would still be big enough to block everybody else’s view. And then you could poke a little hole in the back, you’d take a seat right in front of the projector, like I was talking about before, and there you go, problem solved, now it’s your movie, now it’s projecting only on the movie screen that you’ve got set up on the inside of your oversized hat.

No you be quiet, ma’am. If Yosemite Sam over here is allowed to come to theater and impose his big hat on everybody else, then I’m allowed to sit here and talk and complain and put way too much popcorn in my mouth and start showering the back of this guy’s cowboy hat with little half-chewed up pieces of popcorn.

What’s wrong Hoss? You got a problem? That’s pretty annoying right? Having to keep brushing off the sides of that hat? Keep scooping out all of those little popcorn bits from the sides? And what the hell’s a guy like you doing at a movie like this anyway? John Wayne’s not in this movie. This isn’t a Clint Eastwood production. Why don’t you go and see if there aren’t any other movies that might more suit …

Ow! What the hell man? You can’t just flick me like that! Way to take it to the next level buddy. Yeah, well, you’re not allowed to hit me. It was a hit. You touched me, man, you crossed the line. Yeah well, just take off the hat. Bro, just take off the hat. Just, just take off …

There you go. Oh … Oh my God. What is that? A goiter? What do you have like an iodine deficiency? Hey man, I’m really sorry. Yeah, put the hat back on, that looks incredibly … just … I’m just … Oh God, some things you can’t unsee. I’m really sorry pardner. That was really uncalled for, on my part. I can’t believe you held your shit together so well, considering all the verbal harassment I was, I was just, man, and to think I only got off with a flick. A little flick. And all that popcorn, it’s all stuck in the material. Yeah, Jesus man, I’m really sorry, I …

No you shut up ma’am! I’m trying to apologize here! Did you see that guy’s head? Well just chill out, all right? This movie sucks anyway, you just know they’re both going to die in like half an hour. No, I didn’t spoil anything, I’m just guessing. I’m just, this whole trope isn’t that original, just sit down. You want some popcorn? Sir? I’m talking to you now, sir. Again, I’m really sorry, just have some popcorn, just, just take the whole bag, I’m … Jesus.

Free Association

I always wanted to try a free association. To just get one word out and talk about immediately what comes to mind, and then what comes to mind from that, and so on. But I can never think about the starting point. Like what’s the first word going to be? I guess I could just pick anything, but it wouldn’t really be a free association, it would be forced, somewhat planned.

I’ll just say anything. Cars. Cars make me think of going fast. Of speeding. I’m thinking about my poor driving record. One time I got four speeding tickets in a month. It was terrible. I went to the court date for the first ticket to try and weasel my way out of the fine. I waited in the courthouse for a while until the prosecutor offered me a plea bargain: half the points, half the fine. No way, I told him. I wanted to argue this one out. The judge heard my case and then banged his gavel. Full points, full fine. “Hey wait a second, is it too late for that plea bargain?” “Yes.” Another gavel bang. “Do you really have to bang that gavel every time you finish a sentence?”

He didn’t really bang it after every sentence, but that would’ve been funny. If I were a judge that’s what I would do. I’d bang it constantly. I’d interrupt constantly. A judge’s power is totally unchecked, right? All of the groveling, all of the pleading, “Your honor,” this, “Your excellency,” that. Here you go your honor, a special judge costume and a special judge hammer. No go ahead and feel free to serve as long as you like your honor, nobody else wants to be judge. You take as much time as you want.

I remember one time I drove to Canada and I stopped right before the border to grab a sandwich or something. In a used car lot right next to the sandwich shop there was this old American muscle car for sale called “The Judge.” I knew it was called the judge because it was labeled on the back, “The Judge.” I wanted it so bad, right then and there. If I had the money at that moment there wouldn’t have been anything that could’ve stopped me. That’s why I always worry about my impulses and my decision making processes. Because even though ninety percent of the time I might have a pretty level head on my shoulders, every once in a while I’ll see something like The Judge and the next thing I know I’ll be in this random car dealership in Canada, asking them if they’d take my 2002 Hyundai Accent for an even trade, not thinking at all about insurance, not thinking at all about gas. All I’d think about is feeling fantastic.

My grandmother is a Canadian. I always felt like I’m a kindred spirit with our neighbors to the north. What is national identity? What does it mean to be American or Canadian? Canada is a different country, but what does that even mean? I live closer to the Canadian border than I do to Texas, and I definitely feel like I have a lot more in common with someone living in Montreal than someone who lives in Dallas. One part of me says it’s crazy to have a country as big as the United States, that there’s no way we can really share a national identity, that there’s too much keeping us apart, cultures, food, religion. But then another part of me argues that shouldn’t all of humanity be able to unite behind some sort of universal identity? Like we’re all human, we’re all going through the same life, let’s unite behind that.

But even though there’s me in New York, Canadians up North, and people far away in Texas, collectively, we all have tons more in common than people living in Afghanistan, drone strikes and jihad and deserts and tribes. But it can’t just be geography. There are people right here in New York, homeless people and rich people that are living wildly different experiences than mine.

One time in college I had this idea to dress up like a homeless person, beg for change for a whole day and then write an article about it for the newspaper. So I grew out a ridiculous beard and got ready, but I never followed through. Part of it was people telling me that I was crazy. Another part of it was stories I heard about the NYPD just picking up homeless people and dropping them off in homeless shelters. I also got a weird idea in my head that I might accidentally beg on some more established homeless person’s turf, and they might get confrontational. And also I get really lazy, and I wasn’t the most dedicated college student, and so I probably thought about sitting outside for the whole day and got discouraged by how bored I’d get. So I shaved my beard and walked around with a crazy mustache for a week or so, getting laughs, taking stupid pictures of myself.

I always think to myself that if I were in college now I’d take it much more seriously. But I’d probably do it the same, spending way too much time hanging out with my friends and not enough time in the library. College is this weird place where you’re supposed to study and learn stuff, but you’re only in class like twelve hours a week. I thought that college was much easier than high school. I put a fraction of the work and effort in and I got about the same grades that I did four years earlier. I mean, I’m not running my own company or anything, but I did fine. Good enough. Gave it the old college try.

We’d play this game called Edward Forty-Hands. I wrote about this already I think, but the idea was to tape two forty-ounce beers to your hands and drink them both before you could ask to have the bottles removed, so you could pee, because that’s a lot of liquid, and it’s really just you vs. your bladder with the clock as a referee. We also played this game called Power Hour where you’d set a timer and everybody drank a shot of beer every sixty seconds for an hour. It doesn’t sound like a lot but, think about it, you’d wind up drinking like six beers in an hour. In college I also drank whole beers out of a funnel.

I think it’s so funny that the drinking age is twenty-one yet parents across the country send their kids to go live away at schools where all they do is drink. It’s a big joke. Somebody thought, “I know, we’ll just up the drinking age. That’ll stop them. Those idiot kids.” But you can still buy a gun. Or smoke cigarettes. Or vote. Just no drinking. Yeah. Great idea leaders of society.

So how are you supposed to stop a free association? I feel like I could go on forever. Getting started was hard, sure, but I think shutting myself up is going to prove to be even harder. Where did I start, cars? That’s crazy. I don’t know how to end it. Oh man, I’m looking back and I just realized that I missed a perfect opportunity to wrap things up, full circle, when I was talking about drinking age and smoking age. I could have mentioned driving age, and it would have connected with cars. And I could’ve concluded that I let my mind wander and not only did I bring it right back to where I started, but I did it in exactly the amount of words that I usually use to write a blog post. That would’ve been a good ending.

All rise

I’ve always thought that I’d make an excellent judge. I’m constantly judging everything and everyone else. The government should just make it official and appoint me to the bench. Having everyone call me “your honor,” constantly, day after day, I’m sure it would go to my head eventually, but not for a while. I’m confident that I could make it through ten to fifteen solid years of judging before I would become totally corrupted by my own absolute power. But that’s a long way off. History can be a judge’s only judge, and I think it’s going to judge me by my judicial accomplishments, not by my consolidation of authority or long, rambling speeches that I’ll often make, totally unprompted, right towards the end of an oral argument, just as everyone thinks they’re about to go home, but then I’ll start talking, and I’ll demand everyone’s attention. No bathroom breaks.

I’ll start off probably as a local judge. Every judge has to start somewhere. But I’ll start radically interpreting even the most minor municipal laws in such ways that make it impossible for anyone to ignore my ambition. And I’ll make it to the top. Can judges run for office while they’re sitting on the bench? I think I’d be able to do that. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to run two branches of government at the same time. I could check and balance myself. I’m a fair guy.

But what about the robes? It would probably be a little hasty to just get rid of them all at once, so right before each case, I’d make a slight alteration on my outfit, an almost imperceptible shift in style. But eventually the judge’s robe would wind up completely reimagined. It would be all leather. Leather pants. Leather jacket. Sunglasses. It would be great. We’d all look like a bunch of Terminators. I’d keep the hammer though, or gavel, whatever you want to call it, it’s still basically a hammer. But I’d replace the regular boring hammers with replicas of Thor’s hammer. And I’d rig the court so that whenever I banged it down, the lights would flicker and go out, but just for a second, before coming back on. And I’d never address it. People would just be left to wonder what the hell was behind the mystery of my hammer and the lights.

Most judges tend to stay out of the public eye, not bothering to involve themselves in the national discourse. I would do the opposite. I’d go on elaborate bus tours throwing my judicial weight wherever I’d feel it to be needed.

Judging by my complete inability to keep up this pace of writing, I think I may have misjudged my topic today. I just thought, OK, I’ll sit down and write something funny. And I thought, OK, I’ll write about being a judge. But after like first paragraph I could tell that it wasn’t working out. Maybe it’s because I’ve already exhausted for the time being these themes about power and what I’d do if I had any real authority. I’ve written about being Mayor. I’ve written about running for City Council. And now judge? If I’m going to keep writing about imaginary positions of power, I should at least space them out a little bit.

I’m rereading what I’ve written so far, and I’d like to apologize. The thing about the robes is clearly not funny. And the hammer? I mean, I don’t get what inspired me to put that down in the first place. I just thought, if I can somehow fit the word judge into every sentence, then this thing would basically write itself. But even that idea doesn’t strike me as funny anymore. I feel like I started this piece off as a completely different person, and somewhere through the middle, something just switched, and I’ve realized that everything that I’ve written so far has been a terrible, terrible mistake.

So then I was like, well, I better just start over. But starting over? Man, what a waste of time. I said to myself, Rob, all you have to do here is just keep going, but talk about how bad the writing was. That’s interesting, right? But even that just isn’t doing it for whatever reason. So then I thought I’d write about my decision to keep going, in spite of my acknowledging my disappointment with what I’ve produced so far, and that’s the paragraph that I’m currently writing, so I’ve basically caught up to myself, and the only thing that I have left to write about is the sentence that I’m currently in the middle of writing, and once it’s done, it’s done, and I’m afraid I won’t have anything left to say until tomorrow.