As much as I miss the days when my DVR was overflowing with Oprah episodes telling me what kind of person I should be, the fact that she’s been off the air for nearly three years now (can you believe that shit? Oprah, come back!) makes me feel like it’s finally safe to talk about some things that in the Winfrey era, just wouldn’t fly. Things that were merely whispers under an “aha! moment” regime which can now be brought to light. In fact, I feel like I could start an entire weekly segment on this site called Things I Do That Oprah Wouldn’t Like starting with the fact that although I know I’m not supposed to, I really really really like gossiping.
And I know I’m not the only one! You think any time a celebrity dies and about a thousand “RIP Whitney Houston” posts go up on Facebook within seconds of the announcement that any of those people are concerned with whether or not Whitney Houston is actually resting in peace? Not a chance! That shit is straight gossip. It’s a bunch of people wanting to be the first to tell all of their friends about the crazy thing they just heard. And their friend’s reactions, which would be to immediately Google “Whitney Houston death” in an effort to find out every last detail of how she died, are essentially the counterparts of a good gossip session. It’s the insatiable “need to know” that so many of us possess and which permeates throughout all manner of our lives.
For me, the burning desire to acquire every last detail about any particular situation does not limit itself to things of a nefarious nature. One of my favorite Tweets that I ever read quipped “If a girl watches a movie alone, who answers all of her questions?” Seriously, though! Some of us girls need to know everything about EVERYTHING all of the time.
Why just the other day, Jeff White came over to my apartment wearing a T-shirt I had never seen him in before. My brain nearly exploded. I immediately started firing questions at him. “What the hell is that t-shirt? I’ve never seen that before? How long have you had it for? A year?! You have not! Don’t lie to me! Did someone give it to you? I don’t understand! What is happening right now? Why have I never seen this t-shirt before?!” until finally, I’m satisfied, if not still somewhat suspicious, with his answers. Next we watched a documentary about whales. More questions ensued:
Me: I don’t get it. If they live in the water but breathe air, why not just be an amphibian?
Jeff: What do you mean WHY not just be an amphibian? Because they’re mammals.
Me: But that doesn’t make any sense. If you’re going to be a mammal, why not just live on land like a seal does, that way you don’t have to worry about coming up to the surface for air all the time? I mean how do they sleep? At the top of the water with their blow holes sticking out? That seems like a lot of work. Why not just be like frogs and live half in and half out of the water?
Jeff: What do you mean WHY not just be like frogs? Because they’re whales!
And that’s pretty much how our evening went. Me asking an insane amount of questions and Jeff politely requesting that I shut my face. However, it’s this same mechanism that drives us to gossip. I mean it’s not like I’m looking to trash my friends, but if something out of the ordinary happens, it’s imperative that I know where, when, why, how and with who? And If I can tell that one of them has something especially unseemly to relay to me, I’ll go so far as to stop them first while I run around my apartment preparing my surroundings for optimum listening capabilities, shutting down any outside noise, closing doors and windows to prevent possible fallout from my reaction and finally getting myself comfortably seated before instructing them to “Ok, tell me everything!”. Once they start, I can feel my endorphins firing with every “and THEN” until after intense analysis of the issue at hand, both of us are confident that we have covered all angles. That’s when the really hard part starts.
Holding onto that information.
I remember telling Vanna once about how my father suggested I get a job working for the government. “Yeah, like maybe I could work for the CIA? That would be cool.” At which point she burst out laughing and said “Like you could keep a secret for ten seconds! You’d give up launch codes for a donut!”
Vanna’s always been very supportive of my dreams.
But she was right. I can’t keep a secret to save my life. I’m not talking about betraying confidences, but if I bare witness to something funny or even remotely scandalous it has about thirty seconds of being sacred before it’s out of my mouth, to everyone I know, with the stipulation “Okay, you have to PROMISE you won’t say anything, but…”
And is it really hurting anyone? Gossiping is mostly done behind people’s backs, so what’s the harm? I’m sure my friends have talked shit about me after some of the nonsense I’ve gotten up to and do I fault them for it? No. In a lot of cases it’s how we determine if someone’s behavior is appropriate or not. By having a conversation about it without having to include the person involved and risk them hating us for bringing it up. On the other side, it can make us feel better about our own stupid behavior. Every ONE of us does things on a regular basis that we’re not sure we should be doing. Hearing that someone we know did the same, if not worse, can be comforting. We all do it!
You’re telling me there wasn’t ONE time where Oprah had Gayle on the phone and said “Girl, you’re not gonna believe the shit that Tom Cruise just pulled.”
I highly doubt it.
So as much as I wish I was that I was the type of person who was above it all and didn’t need to know all of the sordid details of the scenarios I see unfolding around me, at the very least, I can continue to talk about it them in a respectful manner, which would be NOT to the person’s face who it’s about. That way no one’s feelings get hurt.
Is that so awful?