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“Curiosity killed the cat!” my mother used to warn, wagging one of those finely manicured fingers in my face. “Face it,” she’d say. “You’re too nosy.” Hmmph. “I am not!” I would shoot back. “I have a curious mind.” Shaking her head, Mom would then lecture me about good manners and warn against eavesdropping and being a “fink” (yes, I’m that old) also known as a tattletale, or snitch. “Nobody likes a gossip,” she’d say, before going back to chatting on the phone with her pal Wanda, and carrying on about the neighbors and a conversation overheard the night before.
Mixed messages to be sure, but I was insistent regarding my “curious mind” defense and marched over to the dictionary to bolster my argument. Looking up “gossip,” I read to myself. “1. Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational or intimate nature.” Surely that wasn’t going to help my argument, so I searched for additional meanings. “2. A person who habitually spreads private rumors or facts.” Getting nervous, I glommed onto number three: “Trivial, chatty talk or writing.” Voila! Feeling quite sure that there was nothing wrong with being “chatty” and confident that I could win the argument, I strode back into the kitchen, dictionary in hand, and wagged a finger at Mom. In hindsight, that was probably not the best decision, and as I recall, Mother suggested that I rethink “ever doing that again,” sending me to my room to “think about it” before going back to Wanda and what was going on behind closed doors across the street.
Even though I did my best to refrain from gossiping about others, the playground in elementary school was rife with rumors, and navigating the halls in high school even trickier. Naturally, I was not immune, and being a “colorful character” often found myself the subject of speculation, which I did not care for at all. Thus began my lifelong ambition to talk about others without getting caught. “I heard it through the grapevine,” I’d say, always anxious to ensure that nobody thought that it was I starting a rumor, while still passing it on. As the years passed, being “chatty” got me into trouble more often than not, and somewhere in my 30s (I’m a slow learner), I gave it up for good. And then I moved to the Catskills. It didn’t take long to realize that small town life was (IMHO) a breeding ground for gossip, rumors and the like and I thought it might be fun to resurrect my old hobby right here at The River Reporter, suggesting to the editors that I write a gossip column. “No, that won’t go over well,” I was informed, and it was suggested that I find an “alternate route” with which to disseminate information regarding who is doing “what where, I heard it through the grapevine when and how.”
Putting on my “investigative journalist” hat became a fun challenge, and learning how to navigate the waters of what’s happening in the Upper Delaware River region (while making sure of the facts) a full-time job. These days, it’s I who am attempting to squelch rumors, so when I heard that one of my favorite haunts, Monticello’s Blue Horizon Diner, was about to close its doors forever, I picked up the phone. “No, it is not true,” owner Maria said when she called me back two minutes later. "Completely false, and the rumor is hurting my business!" Asking me where I had heard it, I informed her that I didn’t want to “snitch,” while assuring her that it was not shared with me maliciously. “Look, I’ll be honest,” Maria continued, “of course that could change. I haven’t had a vacation in years.” As we discussed the economic shifts that have occurred in the area since the ‘80s, and the challenges of running a business, Maria was adamant that she has not received any offers, but would consider it, if the “right one” came along.
Personally, I don’t care for change, and although I’ve come to accept it as a given, expressed my desire to not see that happen (the friendly staff know just how I like my eggs) anytime soon. I promised Maria that I would do my best to let folks know that the diner wasn’t closing its doors “for now” and told her I’d be by for breakfast soon, but not before putting the rumor to rest. “We’ve known each other for years,” Maria said in conclusion. “I would not just close our doors without telling you and all of our wonderful customers in advance. You all are the reason that we have been in business all of these years! Don’t tell ‘em that you heard it through the grapevine” she said “Tell “em that you heard it from the horse’s mouth.” That should put it to rest. For now.