|Norman Rockwell's Classic Take on Gossip|
“Did you hear about Susan James?”
“No, what happened?”
“Well, I heard that…”
Felicia moved closer to the two women, holding her plate in one hand. She picked up a cookie at random and nibbled it as she carefully looked in a different direction so they wouldn’t think she was eavesdropping.
“He’s in trouble, and everyone at the office knows…”
A male voice cut through the feminine chatter and pulled her toward the buffet table. Listening carefully, she absently picked up some fruit and a little chocolate as she worked her way down the table until she was close enough to hear the men’s conversation.
“Well, I told him I was fed up with all the…”
Felicia froze with a strawberry halfway to her lips, and her head turned to track the new voice coming from the open bar. She quickly finished the fruit and tossed her small plate in a convenient trash can before she nonchalantly approached the bar and asked for a Sprite.
She turned and casually scanned the party-goers as she eagerly absorbed the conversation just to her right. As the women moved on to less interesting topics, she put her drink down and made her way back to the buffet table to pick up another plate. She’d found that a plate of food or a glass was the perfect prop if you wanted to discretely listen in on others' conversations.
“You should have seen her face!”
“What did she say?”
“What could she say? I mean really…”
Felicia moved quickly toward the patio doors, hoping that if she hurried she could find out exactly which member of their social circle the couple was discussing. Her haste revealed her however, and to her keen disappointment the couple immediately changed the subject and she was forced into polite conversation for several minutes before she could break away.
“I could have just died! I never thought…”
The overwrought voice drew her back to the buffet table to fill her plate again as she filed away the details of an acquaintance’s most recent trial. When the speaker turned in her direction, Felicia quickly nibbled on a slice of pound cake, gave a little wave and smile to no one in particular, and wandered to the other end of the buffet table.
“You know you can’t tell that woman anything! I swear…”
Felicia replenished the food on her plate as she attended to the words of the man a few tables away. Small creme puffs were eaten without being tasted as she listened carefully to the family drama being described.
“I saw them with my own eyes walking into the Grand Hotel. I can’t believe how bold he is!”
“It’s not the first time; you’d think he’d learn to be discreet.”
Felicia swiveled back to the patio, pleased to find that the speakers were outside the doors which meant she’d be able to stand unobtrusively inside. Details and desserts were devoured with equal delight as she listened intently.
“Well, it’s not like she’d notice, anyway.”
“True – Felicia’s so busy with other people’s business, I suppose she hasn’t got any time for her own!” Derisive laughter floated through the doors.
Felicia froze, then dropped her empty plate on the nearest table, hunted her husband down, and pulled him toward the door.
“What the hell’s wrong with you, Felicia?”
“I don’t feel well, I want to go home.”
“Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. The way you eat…” He trailed off into silence at her killing look.
This post is in response to a prompt from The Red Dress Club on gluttony. I was inspired by that old saying that you never hear anything good about yourself when you're eavesdropping, and Ecclesiastes 7:21...which basically says the same thing! Gluttony isn't just about food and drink - it's anything we want too much of - internet, television, sex, gossip - even when we know better. Thank you for your comments and constructive criticism!