And She Told Two Friends …

At the risk of sounding like a total dork (believe me, I know it wouldn’t be the first time), Eleanor Roosevelt is one of my heroes. If I were planning a dinner party of famous people I admire, living or dead, she would be sitting right next to my father or possibly Jimi Hendrix. I am quite certain Mrs. Roosevelt would provide some interesting table talk, and I’m guessing she wouldn’t miss a beat when my dad told an off-color joke. I think they would also be able to relate when it comes to Mrs. Roosevelt’s famous quote: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” My dad didn’t have much use for gossips or busybodies either.

My two heroes (sorry, Jimi) came to mind recently when my husband told me some unfortunate news about an acquaintance of ours. I have no plans to repeat it because it’s not my story to tell. Frankly, knowing it makes me feel sad and a little dirty.

I’ve also learned firsthand that gossiping has a tendency to come back to bite you in the butt. I truly believe that if you spread the word about someone else’s misfortune and take even the remotest pleasure in his or her pain, you had better watch your back afterward. It’s called karma, and it’s a bitch.

My own admittedly lame justification for occasional gossip is that I only talk about mean people who do crappy things because they deserve it. I’m not sure what gives me the right to determine their fate, but that is how I rationalize my bad behavior. In my defense, I don’t shout anyone’s story from the rooftop. It typically goes no further than my husband’s ears because it doesn’t occur to me to tell anyone else.

Mrs. Roosevelt would be happy to know that, unlike me, her potential dinner companion (my dad, not Jimi) never spoke ill of anyone, even the people he disliked. I assume he figured their unpleasantness spoke for itself. Plus, he always had great stories and ideas to share, so there wasn’t much room in the conversation for idle chatter about others.

When it comes right down to it, gossip stems from boredom. And, honestly, if you can find enough time to be bored in the juggling act of work, marriage and parenting, I’d like to know your secret. I promise not to tell.

Remembering John

A few decades ago, at this time in the afternoon on St. Patrick’s Day, I would have been well into my third hour of drinking. My best friend and favorite drinking buddy, John, would have been right by my side, bellying up to the bar at the Tipperary Pub in Detroit.

“The Tip,” as we fondly referred to it, was where we did some of our finest drinking and studying (yes, studying) during our college years. John was the perfect accomplice in my “I don’t want or need a boyfriend” early 20s because a) everyone thought he was my boyfriend, so no one bothered me, and b) he was gay, so there was no chance of romance complicating things. The fact that he was just as wild and crazy as me certainly helped our friendship to blossom. We were inseparable, and we had the time of our lives.

So, here’s to the memory of a true friend, who would have followed me anywhere — to the Irish pub or the punk club. An entire day of drinking is well out of reach for me these days, but I’ll be raising a glass to you later, Johnny Boy. Sláinte!