Store-Bought Chompers

Everyone knows that teenagers are known for the vicious ways they gab and gossip about one another. I remember my high school days quite well when various tidbits of “he said this” and “she did that” would circulate through the hallways. As you probably also know, this doesn’t stop once you get a diploma. Yeah, we might trivialize it as “chit-chat” or perhaps call it some highfalutin’ term that (we think) excuses it as an intellectual “pursuit,” but adults still like to spread good ol’ gossip. Nitpicking about our friends, acquaintances, and that one neighbor down the street seems to be a favorite pastime for some. Does this need to be in other people’s business ever stop? Apparently not. And, in addition, it can get comically sinister.

This past week, my daughter and I were walking around our Mayberry-esque town and decided we had a hunger that only ice cream cones would satisfy.  So there we sat, at a local café eating our ice cream and at the table next to us were two elderly women having their lunch. They were dressed in their Sunday best complete with shiny patent leather purses…the kind that close with a loud snap. Quite innocently my daughter and I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on their conversation. They were kind of loud. Believe me, we were not the only ones privy to their conversation. Anyway, long story short, they were straight up gossiping. Bouncing back and forth between friends of theirs and what sort of shenanigans they had been up to. It was like a well-acted skit the way these two ladies seamlessly flitted through their litany of friends, one after the other, never missing a beat or enduring even a second’s lull in the conversation.

One friend they were particularly going on about was Peggy.  Poor Peggy. Well, not so fast now… I have it on good authority that Peggy does a fair amount of gossiping on her own so any sympathy you may have for her being the topic of gossip should be disregarded. Apparently these two women were utterly horrified at how Peggy talks about other people. They thought it was downright disgraceful that Peggy should engage in such “tripe.”  (I’ll just let that sink in for a bit.)

After their back and forth discourse on the Peggy issue, one of the women summed up the conversation by proclaiming quite loudly, “As if Peggy has any room to talk about anyone. She doesn’t even have all of her own teeth!”  Admittedly, I don’t know old people slang but based on how sternly this woman said that line, it sounded like it had to be the ultimate “diss” for the classy septuagenarian crowd. Of course my daughter and I failed to feel the full seriousness of the insult and almost spit out our ice cream from laughing.

I guess the moral of this story is (and something I did not know up until now), it’s okay to be a gossip, just so long as you have your own set of chompers.


fake teeth

Facebook Cliques

Sometimes I feel like none us of have ever actually left high school. The same lunchroom politics that influenced our “coolness” junior and senior year are the exact same ones that still come out in many social situations to this day. Take Facebook for instance. It’s just one big online lunchroom. The cliques that have organically developed as we all get more and more intertwined with the social media bazaar seem much like the groups I would see in my high school cafeteria when I tried to find the “correct” spot to sit and enjoy my PB&J.

At one table would be the bullies, the jocks, the guys who thought life will always be that awesome, that they’d always be revered as a god amongst men, and are now stuck in a suburban hell of their own making desperately pining to be 17 again, which is pretty sad when I sit and think about it. These are the hyper-aggressive people on Facebook that attack others by writing uncalled for things on their walls condemning their political views, religious stances, or just about anything they can grasp onto that will demean their “friend” and puff up their own chest a bit more as they hope for a fleeting whiff of the bygone glory days.

Then you have the gossip mongers. Remember them in high school? The girls who would whisper and giggle in the hallway as they played their own game of telephone to spread the news about who made out with who in which basement the night before (but don’t tell anyone because if his girlfriend found out there’d be drama… which they all secretly want of course). On FB these are the ones who post inappropriate pictures of others or call out people unnecessarily. Or they gather in their little clutch to discuss what Sally was wearing in that awful profile pic… and just what was she thinking with that hairstyle!  Or how Johnny’s new business that he just posted about isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (or so they heard) even though they have no idea what it is that Johnny even does for a living. They’ll post (and tag) someone in a photo from a casino night knowing that the person in the picture told their significant other they were going camping for the weekend. They set down the powder keg, light the fuse, then sit back and enjoy the fireworks show of their own creation. I mean seriously, you’d never guess these were grown-ups.

Of course not everyone is stirring up trouble on Facebook. You have the do-gooder clique as well. In high school these would be the people who would come by your lunch table asking you to sign up for a car wash on Saturday morning to raise money for the library restoration or volunteer to clean up the cigarette butts and broken bottles under the football bleachers or help out at the animal shelter… future great advocates.  And the news they now spread on Facebook is commendable.

But like with everything, some took it too far for their own personal reasons… the over the top go-getters.  These were the people who loved organizing completely unnecessary study groups at their house and were members of every single school committee possible…mostly because they enjoyed telling others what to do.  Facebook has their own version of this crowd as well and it’s quite transparent that they just want to get attention and prove that they’re better human beings than the rest of us. OK, fine, you’re better than me at life, alright? Now will you leave me alone?

Good for you. All of you. You bullies, you pot stirrers, you over the top go-getters. You all make things more interesting for our Facebook feeds. But let’s remember that by and large most of us on Facebook are just like most of us were in high school. We’re just trying to get by, man. Leave me alone and let me eat lunch with my friends in peace. In Facebook speak: let me just read a couple posts, see who’s pregnant, post some news, write a couple of messages, and get the hell out of there. Just minding my business, folks. That’s all I want. Is that too much to ask?