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That blame gossip!
by Ann Ipock

Women and gossip. Gossip and women. The connection is as old as Adam and Eve. I’ve often wondered if Eve was prone to gossip; but I guess not. What would she gossip about and to whom? Maybe it would go like this: “Adam, you know that darned snake in the garden? Well, I hear he’s nothing but trouble and I don’t trust him. Say, you want an apple?”

We blame so many of modern-day woes on Eve — moodiness, hormones, hot flashes, temper tantrums. So, why not blame her for gossip too? Call it rumors, hearsay, talking-behind-one’s back, or gossip. Everybody does it. Or, do they?

I know women (and men) whose sole mission in life seems to be keeping up with everybody else’s business. The problem with that is, who do they think is watching their backs when they're turned? At the other extreme: I know women (and men) who wouldn’t repeat a story even if they had the proof to back it up. These people are not normal.

Remember when troubled individuals were referred to as “having baggage?” Read: someone in the throes of therapy whose very problems stemmed from some sordid, morbid and distorted childhood experience — like failing second grade three times.

When someone used the term “baggage” you’d usually get to hear the whole story, or at least the juicy parts. It didn’t matter if the person had ingrown toenails, bad breath or multiple personality disorder. It didn’t matter if they were getting a divorce, serving time in San Quentin or marrying their first cousin, twice. This was kind of a sly way of gossiping without really gossiping; and you could usually weasel out a little information from the gossip-keeper if you were persistent.

However, I’ve noticed that lately the new buzz word to describe suffering souls is “issues.” And it’s a hush-hush type of thing. Before the word “issues” is even uttered, the speaker lowers her voice, looks all around (as if the Mafia is watching) widens her eyes and then whispers the word “issues.”

An example: Someone might refer to their new Jack-the-Ripper-appearing neighbor, saying: “Did you see the new guy who moved into Apartment 2B? I hear he’s got ... issues.”

Talking this way can give the impression of a holier-then-thou attitude and yet spread a cloud of mystery. Why is everybody so tight-lipped about someone with “issues,” generally refusing any further discussion? Dang! This drives me crazy! Why bait gossip-seekers like that? Once this “accidental” slip of the tongue occurs, the speaker suddenly shuts up or changes the subject.

Here’s an example. A friend says, “Did I tell you I heard that Marty is going to get fired at his new job as a midnight watchman because he can’t stay awake second shift?” As soon as you ask for details (which you would, of course) — “Is he seeing a doctor? His poor family!”—an eerie silence takes over. Next thing you know, your friend changes the subject with something out of left field, like, “And did I tell you Mama had her cat declawed? Except they couldn’t get to the fourth claw; so I’ve got to drive her clear to Goshen to see a specialist.” I mean, after hearing that, you kind of lose interest in old tired-and-fired Marty.

The only thing I can figure out is the “baggage” lingo comes from folks who love to gossip. The “issues” lingo comes from folks who either a) don’t like to gossip, b) don’t know the whole story, or c) are just teasing — how rude!

Well, whether it’s baggage, issues or old-fashioned gossip, it’s something I won’t repeat! Like I said, you better listen closely the first time.


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Ann M. Ipock, author of Life Is Short, But It’s Wide (In The Southern State of Reality) can be reached at amipock@sc.rr.com.

Ann is a biweekly humor columnist with the Georgetown Times, South Carolina’s oldest newspaper.

Whether we are hearing about Ann’s unspeakable accident—the time she got the mayor’s mustache caught up in her dental hygiene polisher, her view on prissy Southern women who actually resort to toothpicks after meals—(those thick fake nails just can’t possibly remove spinach from one’s front teeth), or her frustration with sticking to a budget—the normally-$100 supper club night she hosted which turned into a $2400 remodeling job (blame it on the new carpet), we can only think of one thing to say, “Tell us more!”

Life Is Short, But It’s Wide (In the Southern State of Reality) is Ann’s second book of humor columns. Published by Carolina Avenue Press, the book was released in September, 2003. Her first book was entitled What Was It I Was Saying? She is a regular contributor to Sasee Magazine, and she also writes for Pee Dee Magazine, Strand, and Gateway Publications. She is active in community theatre, where her favorite role to date was that of Truvy Jones in Steel Magnolias. Her day job consists of being a home-based, self-employed medical transcriptionist for twelve years.

Visit Ann’s WEB SITE to read more of her delightful columns.


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