I try my best to let gossip pass through my delicate little ears without stopping. I want to know if someone is sick or going through a rough time so that I might be able to do something to help. Send a card, make a casserole… But to whisper and cackle while taking pleasure in life circumstances of another person, well that just doesn’t appeal to me. To be honest, of course I am going to be honest—honest! When I was younger I did tend to be a host car on the gossip train. But, as I assume it always happens, the gossip was eventually about me. Well that taught me, faster than any guilt trip put on me by a preacher, to be the end of the line person with gossip. Just what is it about gossip that tantalizes and seduces? Where is the best place to hear gossip? What is the best way to pull up on the reigns to put a whoa on a story?
Let’s start with trying to stop that train. Why spend your mouth time gossiping when it is put too much better use doing what it is meant for; eating. How intriguing it would be to watch the eyes of a gossip if, instead of asking tantalizing questions about the story you’re being told to by a gossip that is just on the edge of her seat waiting for your questions so she can continue taking her ride on the back of someone else’s misfortune, you stuffed a cracker in your mouth causing a lack of ability to talk, because we all know that it is not polite to talk with your mouth full. Whew!
People who can’t look away when they go by an accident are the same ones that are most likely to gossip. Their nose is more pronounced than their common courtesy. They are tantalized with those scenes and seduced by bits of half-truths. There is a reason for a fence and reason for open ground. A gossip tells stories over the fence and a true friend has open ground all around themselves.
What about going to the horse’s mouth about a story you have just heard from someone that I would call the other end of the horse! Face it head on. Being the talk of the town is only a good thing if you’re rich and famous and wanting the attention to become richer and famouser-er?? Oh never mind. In us regular folks’ circles it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I want to know if the cackle is about me so that I may either let it run off me like water off a duck’s back, or go to the engineer of the train asking, “To what end did you begin that story.?” Can you just see the terror in the eyes of the “mouth bully” when you step up to the plate and ask that question? Talk about the power of words! Wow.
I don’t, like my mother did, go to have my hair cut and curled and blown and shellacked each week, (you could have bounced a quarter off her hair!) Now there was a place for gossip; the hair salon. I go maybe once a year to a gal about 250 miles away from where I live. Just to give myself a treat. Oh my, to sit in an atmosphere, where you don’t know anyone, is quite an eye opener. I tell you that to give you something to think about next time you are in public gabbing about him and her, or her and him or them… I don’t know anyone in that salon except the gal doing my hair and I can tell by the pssst, blabitty and yattiy that goes on which ones I would like to know and which ones I would keep my distance from. I can also tell by the looks on the listeners’ faces which ones would keep the train going and which ones would be eating a cracker if they had one. Not to single out the obvious place, like a hair salon. What about work, school, the line at the grocery store, on the street. Gossip crosses gender, age, culture, social boundaries. You of course can tell your cat everything because he won’t pass it on, and he doesn’t eat crackers.
I can just see you now, walking along and then you see Ole Gossipy Gert coming at you. Here is what you can do. Give her a copy of this column with a stack of crackers, smile and whistle a tune as you walk away. Maybe you won’t stop the train permanently, but I bet you a nickel you put a hitch in her get along.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts an opinions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.