“I heard about it from Cindy Lou, the new mom from Texas. Do you know her?”
“She’s everywhere! Didn’t you meet her at the Cocktails & Canvases party last week?”
(her, scrunching her eyebrows) “Wait. I think it was at the Sip ‘n Stroke party.”
(me, fighting a smile) “Are you sure it wasn’t at the Martinis & Markers party?”
“No! Who throws that?!”
The above is a transcript mash-up, based on a few conversations I’ve had with other parents so far this school year. These conversations begin with gossip delivered in my direction and end with a blank look, pursed lips, thoughtful staring into space, and then a nod of approval at my disinterest.
I am not interested in gossip. Not online, not down the street, not in a house, not with a mouse.
Gossip utterly saps my energy. Gossip fractures my focus. Gossip poisons my heart. More than anything, it is a waste of my time.
A high school friend moved back to our hometown recently and was surprised at how many of us had, in fact, moved back. She had loads of questions about everyone but was met with a shrug and a patient smile from me at each inquiry. I knew these old friends were around, however after a few attempts at reconnecting, I had already given up the ghost. What killed my interest each time? Gossip.
Two months of wading through the swamps of old friendships later, she called me and sighed, “You know what you are doing. This isn’t worth it.” No, no it’s not.
I understand the benefit of friendship. I’m full up with friendship and I’m willing to grow more space in my little heart to make room for more of the sparkly old stuff. But I also understand cost-benefit analysis of relationships. If you are bringing little more than drama to this mama, I am going to determine that our friendship is costing more in energy and heart-space than it is worth. Particularly if that drama isn’t even your own. Wow, I really don’t have time for third-hand drama.
Will I be more interested in gossiping over clotted canvases once my kids are out of elementary school? Is it because my children are all still so young and distract me enough as it is? Am I just dead inside?! Worse, am I boring?!
Explain the benefit of toxic friendships to me. I admit, I am a fan of “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” and I also understand sticking with your friends through tough times when they can’t seem to shake a funk, however I don’t think that applies here. So what does? What makes us endure friendships that skew negative?
A PR pitch flitted across my desk last week, catching my already interested eye: A recent Today.com and Self.com poll of 18,000 women found that 84% of women polled said they have had “at least one venomous friend who has brought toxicity into the relationship.” I assure you, it did not follow that statement with, “Upon realizing their predicament, that 84% said, ‘Oh, hail no! I don’t have time for this!’ and promptly ended the friendship.”
No, I imagine that 84% went on accepting invitations to Art & Absinthe parties and complained when they returned home that all RubySue wanted to do was moan about Cindy Lou’s new car.
You know she’s rich because she won a settlement over her botched boob job, right?
What do you think? Do you have a toxic friendship? Do you endure the gossip? Do you not mind the gossip?
Is it because of the cocktails? Come on, tell me, it’s because of the cocktails, isn’t it?
*Note: If there is, in fact, an Art & Absinthe party, I would love an invitation. Gossip all you want.