Today, for more or less arbitrary reasons, but sparked by a couple similarly-themed conversations I’ve been a part of recently, I have decided to embark on a 5-part series of essays (read: patently stupid rants) on the subjects of cliques, exclusivity, and gossip as they manifest themselves in the world of breedin’.
That is, we all can relate to our own individual junior high and / or high school experience of groups and exclusivity. Ah-ha! See? I know a few of you shuddered at the point of reading the phrase “junior high” and are already reliving the period-spot-on-my-jeans moment in World Issues or the volleyball-scrimmage-humiliation at the hands of that Amazon bitch on Varsity. Some of you are determinedly blocking out the memory of the chola bangs and pegged pants you adopted to keep your position in your group. And then there are those who are thinking, “Aw, it wasn’t that bad!” (and just so you know, *you* are the Amazon bitch on Varsity!). At any rate, whether we were a bonafide target, a “floater”, or a Queen Bee, we all have our opinions of what is or isn’t happening, and we all could use a little refresher to figure out who we want to bring to our little community.
I don’t have too far to look for examples. A very close friend calls me recently and relates, entirely innocently, a story of running into another mom and child which includes a very short account of something naughty the child did. Now, I know the mother of the “naughty” child in question – let’s call her “My Mom”* for short – has been the object of at least three conversations behind her back about her child and her so-called not-up-to-par parenting. I have heard snippets of (and moved away from) two of these conversations regarding My Mom, and was directly asked in to weigh in on a third. Luckily, I was able to express my truth succinctly: “If you feel there are problems, you should confront My Mom about them. I’m sure she’d listen.” I did not even once fall prey to utter a save-ass, “Oh, yeah, I know what you mean…” which thereby, in my mind, gives sanction to further back-talk. My expressed truth stopped the conversation more or less in it’s tracks, which worked for me (to this day, I don’t know if any of those talking about My Mom has indeed confronted My Mom on any of these issues).
In my conversation with my friend, as she weighs in with her assessment of the episode involving My Mom and her child, I say, “Well, maybe you can join the ranks of gals maligning My Mom for her parenting.” (ding! ding! gossip alert). My girlfriend draws back. She is not interested at all in that kind of talk (bless her heart!). She probably knows how much she would hate to be the victim of some coven of bitches whispering behind her back (interestingly enough, this friend of mine was a Slut back in the day – in the way I call myself one – and perhaps understands the nastiness that can be inflicted when women are loose about their discussion standards). I don’t name the particular gals who’ve been discussing My Mom; we move on to something else (talking about our own rotten kids!).
If you’ve read carefully (if you’re still reading at all) you see that there were fully five Gossip Snares in that story. The first three are the conversations regarding My Mom when she wasn’t there. The fourth being the opportunity to bash My Mom when my friend called and related how naughty My Mom’s child had been (remember, I would have had the “backup” of the friends who’d been discussing her). And the fifth, and most treacherous, being my girlfriend and I gossiping about the gossipers and what bitches they were to gossip! Follow me? If you don’t, it’s because I’ve had a glass of wine as I type this – or you are male. No offense, Rambo.
I am proud I resisted all five gossip snares regarding My Mom, but I am left wondering what my responsibility is to My Mom herself. Do I let her know “The Others” have been talking about her? What would be the point, unless I named them? And if I named them, wouldn’t I be gossiping? If I was My Mom, wouldn’t I want to know this was happening?
There are no easy answers here, except I guess to make saintly friends or plug my ears and loudly exclaim, “Knock that shit off!” when I hear this sort of thing.
You tell me, ladies.
* I love teasing my real mom, in any way I can!