Gossip is everlasting in all small towns, but in small-town Yukon it is constant, like time itself.
I grew up in a provincial small town and don’t recall much rampant gossip. Perhaps as a teenager you don’t clue into such things. But shortly after arriving in small-town Yukon I realized that the grapevine here is alive and well with vines entangling all those within a 100-kilometre radius.
Some of my gossip experiences have stood out more than others. For example, when trying to pay a service bill to a local over the phone, the following conversation ensued:
“Hello, I need to pay my bill.”
“Sure. No problem. How do you like the new place? I heard you guys moved into Johny Beaverdam’s house.”
“Uhh … we like it.”
“How’s your leg?”
“Who is this?”
“Oh, you don’t know me. My name is Sally Blockheater.”
Upon completing my business, I ninja-ed to the window and pulled the blinds shut. This person had been updated on relatively bland details of my life, all in the absence of our personal introduction.
My second mentionable Yukon gossip experience was truly shocking and displayed the sacrilegiousness of the Chatty Kathys. This is the play by play of our gossip:
“I was at Don Buckbrush’s, getting that thing fixed, and the customer service was absurd. The guy was a total douche-bag.”
“Oh, don’t take it personally. He’s got hemorrhoids.”
“I guess, eh. What’s his problem?”
“He really does have hemorrhoids – chronically. I think he first got them in the 70s and they never went away. Treatment doesn’t seem to help.”
“Uh, I did not need to know that, but it does help explain a lot.”
This episode amazed me, with the antiquity of this particular gossip being unreal. Personal details dating back 30 years continue to whisper throughout the community. No topic, person or era is off limits.
Though gossip can be annoying, petty and hurtful, there are some silver linings regarding this ritual. For one, it brings the community closer together.
I have met roughly only 30 per cent of my community, but I know details regarding 70 per cent of them. And, importantly, the details I am aware of are probably a person’s flaws and perhaps things I should be wary of (if you got a D.U.I. in 1983, I might hesitate in joining your car pool).
Furthermore, because of this gossip, finding friends in my community is similar to online dating with the Internet-based personal profile replaced with gossip-based verbal critiques.
And when I complete my gossip-based background check and choose to befriend you, we won’t have that awkward get-to-know-you phase because I already know so much about you.
So, let the gossip flow … like when Danny What’s his face’s waterline ruptured in 1992.