I had no idea how to respond. My dear friend finished telling me the crazy tale of how the homosexual vendor of cheese at the local farmers market had propositioned the (married) male maple syrup vendor… how he had refused him… how the cheese vendor had persuaded his female intern to break up the marriage so he could pursue the husband afterward… how the local biddies (headed by the wife’s best friend) had elegantly but very publicly at the farmer’s market confronted the intern…
“I just admire how composed she was… I would have punched that woman.”
“Who?” I replied. “The intern was composed?”
“No, no! The best friend. She was so cool and collected. When the intern told her it was over and that she loved living in the valley, the best friend just told her she shouldn’t get comfortable because she wasn’t welcome to live here anymore.”
I sat in shock, trying to process the gossip, to figure out how to respond to such a ridiculous story and such a horrific pile of judgment from the people that comprise my tiny little community. Here was my (very intelligent) friend, telling me a story I could hardly believe was actually true. She had bought in – hook, line, and sinker – to the gossip and the crazy disparaging of three or four people’s characters. As the conversation continued, I made the following points:
1. I do not appreciate someone acting as my community organizer without my having appointed her as such. Do not speak for me and whether or not I welcome someone to live in my community. I wish I knew this intern. I’d invite her for tea.
2. If the best friend wanted to stick up for the wife, I can absolutely understand. If she has a bone to pick with the intern, though, discretion is of utmost import. Public exposure, especially at a market where they may be children and strangers present, is absolutely not the place to air ANYONE’S dirty laundry.
3. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. And if she’s going to tell one woman who has committed adultery to leave the valley, she’d better be prepared to tell all of us who have. (Yes, that’s an admission.)
4. I told my very intelligent friend that she need not avoid the market, the madness or her maple syrup man. I was SURE, if she had not judged him and his lover herself, that she could find her maple syrup man at another market nearby.
5. Last but not least, I apologized for being difficult and offering my $2.00 and change. I really have learned the hard way, losing night after sleepless night over the thought of several key people that could have easily destroyed me and my family with their knowledge of my affair. I learned that discretion and tact are the tools that have saved many families, marriages and individuals over the centuries. Marital problems are personal, not public. They are not anyone’s business but the people directly involved.
In the end, I agreed that the best friend was, indeed, a very graceful and elegant woman who had overstepped her bounds and judged where she should not have done so. My very intelligent friend thanked me for schooling her and offering a perspective on gossip.
A lady should judge less. A lady should love more. A lady seeks inner peace and resists the temptation to gossip about others or portray them in a poor light.
“I have been affected by gossip and I know people who have been, too. I have seen marriages destroyed by gossip. It is cruel. At the end of the day, all that matters is: do you love what you see when you look in the mirror? That is it.” – Jada Pinkett Smith
Rule #1 of being a lady – shy away from gossip.