One day, years ago when I was in high school, a classmate pulled me aside during a mid-morning recess and asked me point-blank if I stuffed my bra. I suppose my shock at the question didn’t really help me answer it, because even though I gave a heated “No!”, the rumor soon spread throughout the painfully small school population that I did, in fact, give myself a little help in the décolletage department. People started calling me ‘Tissue Girl’ — even the younger kids — and it was a name that followed me until I graduated from high school.
The following years in college were not as vicious, but I never forgot the lesson I learned in high school: gossip knows no age, no race, no gender, and certainly no bounds. So I resolved to block out all the gossip that I knew people were saying about me, because I figured that it didn’t matter what they said if they didn’t even really know me.
So when a friend told me a couple of weeks ago that people had been asking her about me because they had heard through the grapevine about my current relationship purgatory, my impulse was to wave it off: “Who cares what people say?” It was only when I realized that these ‘people’ included those who were supposed to have been close to me, the only ones who would have been in a position to ask me directly about said purgatory, that my resolve wavered. I realized that my stance would now have to be: “Who cares what people say — unless they’re the people closest to you?”
For half my life, I’ve lived by the creed that nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, and the people standing outside those doors can either keep standing there until they are allowed in, or just walk away. I suppose it was naïve of me to think that with age comes the wisdom of knowing that if it were any of their business, they would never have had to speculate or probe.
That said, in a situation like mine, even the ones allowed through those doors will never be able to fully grasp what’s behind them. And although I have a fairly good idea of who has been talking about me, I also know that there is no need, and no point, in explaining anything to them, because mine is a situation that nobody except us can ever understand.