July 21, 2018

Men Love to Gossip

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It is a widely-denied fact that men are equal to women when it comes to gossip, and those given to a troublesome regard for truth say they enjoy a superiority. This is sometimes obfuscated by the nature of the gossip in which men engage–for contrary to women who like to discuss events, men like to discuss their friends and neighbors along topic lines or themes. The general discussion may be structured around domestic disputes, natural disasters, errors of judgment, or physical capabilities, and the men will use their friends, neighbors, fellow workers, or acquaintances to define, illustrate or round out whatever assertion or opinion each may be given to.

For example, just the other day the men who comprise the Doodlebug Board of Business Opportunity and Adjudication were sitting around enjoying coffee following a meeting when the chairman observed rather philosophically that men are unusually adept at practicing diversionary tactics.

“Did you see how Henry Cuthbert tried to get around the frontage requirement by promising to give space in his new store to the Boy Scouts?”

“Yeah,” chimed in Ed Hinckley, “and what about old Dobbs Smith trying to get us to agree to a humongous sign by telling us he’ll use it to post notices about Island events? That’s about like trying to interest members of congress in a pay cut.”

There was a moment of silence, a sure sign of general agreement among the men present, then Merrill Hastings spoke. “Speaking of diversions, you all know how George Blake has been able to get Betty’s dander up by mentioning his old girlfriend Lulu! Well, boy did that ploy blow up in his face last week, and poor old George hasn’t been the same since!”

“My word! What happened?” asked Mirl Terbish.

“You know how for years we’ve all heard George bring up Lulu’s name to make his wife Betty jealous, and how that jealousy always caused Betty to somehow forget the scolding she was giving George? No more! Seems they went to a high-school reunion recently, and who should be there but Lulu, all 348 pounds of her! Now guess who’s mentioning Lulu?”

Each man felt a tinge of guilt as he shared in the laughter, for each had used his own means of escaping the spotlight of his wife’s questioning. There was relief, therefore, when Hector Gonzales provided a group diversion to a safer theme: just dues.

“Speaking of ‘dues,’ you all know what a pious, pompous, know-it-all the Reverend Pike is. Well, did you hear that he and Carl Sagemiller ran into each other last Tuesday?”

“Walt Haskins referred to it, but he didn’t know the details,” said Thirl Gibson, “How’d it happen?”

“Well, you’ll remember that Carl is more than a bit challenged mentally and that he often imagines himself a train. Poor fellow, believes it’s his job to jog from one end of the island to the other several times each day making chugging noises and tooting an imaginary train whistle. He was on his daily run down Main Street Tuesday morning just as Reverend Pike emerged from the bank on the corner of First Avenue, and Carl knocked the good minister sprawling. When Pike hauled himself up, he was fuming, and asked Carl what in the devil’s name would make him do such a thing?”

“Oh, and did Carl have an answer?” asked Thirl.

“I’ll say he did! He looked at Pike as if the minister had broken all ten commandments simultaneously, and gave him the sensible advice, ‘When you see the train a’comin, get off the track!'” Everyone present agreed that under the circumstances it was sensible advice, and that, together with the mental image of the rotund reverend lying dust covered on his pomposity, found comfortable lodging among the men, and a quiet note of satisfaction terminated in contemplative thought.

Yes, men love to gossip, but they do it under the guise of elaborating on one theme or another. This is why “hanger talk” is more fun than flying, and why military service is good for a lifetime of philosophical application. Men use their friends and acquaintances to generalize about such things as marriage, religion and politics when, in fact, they themselves rather more often than not make poor husbands, never attend church, and wouldn’t think of running for office. Come to think of it, it’s a wonder we lasted in the garden as long as we did.

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