I don't mind being judged by people who don't know me.
What bites my ass is being judged by fatties in bad pants who don't know me.
This occurred on two occasions in particular and each time it went on for months preceding a seminal event in my life and for quite a while afterward, as well.
Also, most of the fatties wore goatees.
I wrote recently of people who, when I mentioned that my wife was pregnant, had espoused their personal "journey of discovery" in regard to having a child. I tagged it as a philosophy of parenthood although philosophy is a pretty generous term for what basically amounts to staring at oneself in the mirror, preening.
There's another philosophy which is simpler and also encompasses marriage.
"Your life is over."
The first time I heard this gem was at an engagement party for my soon-to-be wife and me. It went something like this:
Uncle Fatty-Pants: "Big day coming up, eh?"
Me: "Looks that way."
Uncle Fatty-Pants: "Well, ha-ha (sip beers, adjusts balls)...your life's over now, kid!"
Afterward I heard it from assorted relatives, friends and acquaintances and I'm not imagining it, for some reason all were hefty, wore Dockers, and bore a style of facial hair last worn well by the Three Musketeers. Every person who said it was married. I never heard the phrase uttered bya woman and I never heard it from a bachelor.
The same held true in relation to having a child.
Only men with children said it to me.
Men in jean shorts whose guts had clefts.
That my wife and I were going to have a baby hummed inside of my chest, it was the best of small, warm pleasures and even though people knew, it still felt like a secret shared only by my wife and me. It felt untouchable.And then I went to a barbeque. I was standing around the Weber with four semi- relatives watching the host flip meat, we were mesmerized in a primordial way by the fire and grilled animal flesh, the beer and tequila helped, when a guy who's the brother of a guy who married a cousin of my wife starting talking at no one, just talking, until I realized it was directed toward me:
Cousin Fatty-Pants: "I told my wife we oughta chuck him back, like a too-small fish, ha-ha. But no, you'll see. (tosses back tequila, adjusts balls) Your life's over, dude."
I'd heard it too many times, I usually managed to ignore it, but this time I couldn't and I said, "What does that mean exactly?"
"My life is over. Didn't you tell me that before I got married?"
"Well, it will be now. Just wait. You have a kid, your life's over, dude."
So I waited and then my son was born and my life didn't end. It expanded in what feels like a natural way, as if I were the United States and I finally annexed Mexico and Canada. Bigger, weirder, unfamiliar in an exciting way, definitely more poo in the vicinity, but far from over. In some ways it's just beginning.
I realized then that Fatty's life didn't end when he got married and it didn't end when he had a kid. Fatty's life was over before either of those things happened. He just needed someone to blame.