Friday, February 16, 2007

Land mines in a small town

One of the things that make living in a small town complicated are all of the land mines. Social land mines that is, there is no danger of losing a limb, but they sure make living a peaceful life tricky. Years ago I noticed that falling into a circle was a sure way to have things blow up. Most of these circles are subtle and hard to spot, but there was a particularly obvious one in our town at that time. A circle is a group of people who hang out together as a group and all seem to like each other as a whole. However when any two of them were alone together they displayed a contempt for most of the other members. It doesn't seem to matter which two you got together either. A twosome could separate,walk away from each other, each of them running into a different member, who they had just been talking about, form another twosome, and of course, start talking the person they had just walked away from. Watching this obvious circle years ago I decided I did not want to belong to a circle. One of the ways I have tried to prevent it is to try not to trash talk. For some people that may be easy, but I have days when I find it extremely difficult. On the days when I am fed up and really need to vent I allow myself to vent to only two people, Miss Universe and my friend Tams, they both know me well enough to know I'm only venting and I know them well enough to know they won't use what I say as fodder for gossip. For the most part I have been successful, although I have to check myself every once in a while. One of the reasons I have to check myself is Godiva. There are a couple of reasons for her name, one is her long blond hair, the other is that one night after having a few beers she went across the street and stood behind a sign and removed her pants and shirt. The sign was just the right height so that it covered her from the uppermost part of her thigh to her armpits. Everything that was showing was bare. She appeared to be completely naked when her husband turned around and saw her. Then in the early morning moonlight she ran down the street in her underwear. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes her fun to hang out with. She is also very smart and interesting to talk to, and good person to have on your side when you need help. She has been there for me when I needed her more than once. On the other hand she is a horrible gossip. One morning a few months ago my sister Drama Queen was going through a rather rough time, and was spending a few nights in jail, Godiva actually came to me and said something about my sister being crazy and what were we going to do with her. Then she asked me what the full story was. I had already heard from other people that she sat around with them and laughed at how crazy D.Q. is. Now I'm not saying I'm perfect and have never laughed at somebody's misfortune, because I'm sure I have, but turning a friend's family problems into party entertainment is a little too much. So I tried to keep my voice from being extremely cold ( I think I managed to move it from Arctic to frosty) and changed the subject. Since I was angry and hurt about it I avoided her for a few months. This was a bit difficult since she is family in the most extended in law sort of way. Now that I have worked through my anger and forgiven her, of course without ever mentioning to her how I felt, I have started hanging out with her again. It was hard to watch myself and not trash her during that few months, believe me I had to squeeze my mouth shut more than once.
A few weeks ago Dh called me to ask who in town had a nine month old girl. He had heard a page go out for an ambulance to pick up the baby and mother at the clinic and take them to the hospital. That is how small towns are, when somebody hears something over the scanner they call around to find out who it is. Immediately I thought of Godiva. She has three girls, a baby, a two year old, and an eight year old. It turned out that the two year old had fed the baby six anti-depressants. She was treated and spent a night in the hospital and came out just fine, but it was scary. Of course right away people started talking about whose fault this was. Yeah, Godiva may have made a mistake, but if only people who never made any mistakes had children the world would be a barren place, and many good people would have never been parents. The funny thing I have noticed over the years is that people who point out the mistakes of others the loudest are usually the same people who make very serious blunders themselves.
When I heard that somebody had turned Godiva in to child services I assumed it was somebody who worked at the clinic or hospital. In their jobs they may have felt legally or morally obligated to do so. When people who see these kind of things first hand feel they may need to do something I believe they should error on the side of caution and have things checked out. How else can we battle child abuse? When it came out that it was none of these people who turned her in though, but another woman in town, who would have received all of her information through hearsay I was a little disgusted. Officially nothing came of the investigation, however this has caused a landmine in our community. In a small town all of the parties involved have many different roles. I get along with this woman because I know that she falls into the category of people that are friendly and I talk to when needed, but don't share anything personal with them because I know they will talk about me, and anybody I mention, the minute my back is turned. So now I have to try not to trash this woman whenever Godiva brings it up, which is not that easy. I also am avoiding the woman for a while just in case my disgust for her has not been properly wiped off my face. Why bother with last part? My son works with her, she is Princess's girl scout leader, her and Godiva both work for a organization that Dh sits on the board of. In a small town it is easier to just try and stay out of all arguments like this.

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