I invited a couple people over for dinner last Friday. And then, one thing leading to another (mostly the people I like having significant others that they like) we wound up having a dinner party of 10 people. It was lovely. We ate on the back porch, the butterfly lights and torches alight, with much delicious food, and a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity before the evening ended.

One of the guests was a stranger to all of us (except the guy who brought her) and her reaction to CAH was a fascinating, “but you’re all going to be judging me.” Nope, only on how funny her answers were and she was tied for the win at the end of the evening, so go her, but it made me think about judgement.

I always tell people the full story of how Bartleby came to be my dog when they meet him. Literally, it’s the most boring story in my repertoire, because if you say, “hey, cute dog,” I’m going to share with you how he showed up in my backyard during a thunderstorm, and how I give him eyedrops in the morning, Benadryl at both meals, glucosamine and omega three oils in the evening, and how he’s got chronic dry eye and patellar luxation and allergies to all grains and maybe dairy, etc. etc. And sometimes–not always, but often–people respond with things like, “he was lucky to have found you.”  And I always feel vaguely like, “no, that’s not the right response.”

Enlightenment struck on Saturday. I realized, because of thinking about judgement and people judging us, that I tell people these stories because I’m still seriously embarrassed about owning a chihuahua. Possibly mixed with a “mini-pin” according to one of our guests. I don’t even know what these minis are! But I tell people his history so that they won’t think me a chihuahua person, even while he barks to get into my lap and I follow his orders, and then spend the CAH game petting the lap dog who occasionally tries to lick my nose.

Fundamentally, I don’t need people to think me a good person for rescuing a stray: I just need them to know that I wouldn’t have gotten a chihuahua if he hadn’t wandered into my backyard and needed me. So now that I know that, I hope I can stop telling his story. Yep, I own a chihuahua. (OMG, how embarrassing.)

But the peril of judgement is that you never know all of what you’re judging. Every story has dimensions that the surface doesn’t show.