Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ground to a Pulp In the Rumor Mill

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published, Oct. 6, 2011]  © 2011

Jane Smith tells her two closest friends that she and her husband Fred will not be able to attend a group dinner the next night as planned.  Pressed for details, she finally confides that the two had a huge fight and have decided to spend the weekend away from each other to cool off.   Jane reminds them that this is strictly confidential information. She does not want to start any rumors.

But Fred’s and Jane’s absence is noted and an Inquiring Mind, professing deep concern for Jane, persists in querying one of the close friends if Jane and Fred are having problems.  Close Friend finally says, “You have to promise you won’t say anything.  They’re totally fine but they just needed to spend a little time apart.”

At bridge group a few days later, Inquiring Mind leans in and announces in a lowered voice that she has learned something that must absolutely not leave this room under any circumstances.  Jane Smith’s husband has left her.  Inquiring Mind doesn’t know why but another member concludes, “Isn’t it always another woman?”

One of the bridge group members is having mani-pedis with a group of friends the next day and, unable to resist the heroin-esque high of being Among The First To Know, says:  “This is a total secret so you can’t say anything, but since I think you all know Jane Smith, I know you’d want to know that Fred Smith left Jane for his secretary.”  There is a moment of silence while everyone pretends to be sad on Jane’s behalf, although are actually trying to remember where they do know her from.  T-ball?  Clay camp?

By nightfall, Fred Smith’s affair with his secretary has been one of a long line of extra-marital dalliances of which the long-suffering Jane is justifiably fed up.  Over refreshments at a book club the following night, everyone agrees that one really never knows what goes on behind closed doors.  But out of respect for Jane, whom nobody in the group can quite place, not a word of this is to be breathed.

On Saturday, as the kids warm up for their soccer game at Allen Field, word is out that Fred actually left Jane because of her prescription drug problem and not because of the secretary.  Poor Fred having to live with an addict for all these years!  And the kids!  We must all invite them over for play dates to ply them for information, er, give them the mothering they have clearly not been getting.  If only Jane had confided in someone earlier, we might have been able to prevent this tragedy!

At an organizing luncheon for a local charity on Monday, Jane Smith is rumored to already be at Betty Ford.  There is conjecture that the drug is actually diet pills related to her insecurity about Fred’s infidelities and this is really how Jane Smith has kept her svelte figure all these years, not Pilates or the tummy tuck she always admitted having after her third child – or was that Susie Smith?  Doesn’t matter.  Who hasn’t had a little plastic surgery these days?

In one corner of a cocktail party fund raiser the next evening, the sordid details of the lives of Jane and Fred Smith, whom no one in the group could actually pick out of a line up, are the talk of the evening.  Somebody knows somebody who knows somebody who used to play golf with Fred and they always suspected there was a dark side to him. 

Meanwhile, Jane Smith has 60 “I just heard – I’m so sorry!” messages in her email in-basket.  Fred Smith has been solicited by four of Jane’s single acquaintances offering solace in the form of a drink and “talk”.   Fred calls Jane from work and asks her if she knows something he doesn’t.  And Jane says, “Yes.  There are people in this town who need a different hobby.” 

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