By LESLIE LINSLEY Citizen Columnist
It's at this time of year that I really appreciate hearing from my Key West friends, acquaintances, and those I've never met but have heard from because of my column.
Everyone seems to be in transition. The other night while having dinner with our Nantucket/Key West friends Joann and Steve Marcoux, we were all musing about how much we wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas in Key West.
They imparted news about their friends who live in the Meadows, and I was able to tell them about the Harris School becoming the new exercise place due to a report from Mike Mulligan via Penny from the Coffee Mill.
We are all thrilled and surprised about the positive outcome regarding the dredging situation. I'm happy to report the gossip mill is still working from one end of the country to the other and, in my case, without benefit of Facebook and the more modern means of social networking. My news comes mostly from email, which I am told is becoming outdated, and even more retro but quite satisfying, the telephone and face-to face interaction.
In small towns like ours, gossip, as a main source of diversion, reigns supreme. Gossip is, and perhaps always was, a form of communication in which we indulge ourselves. Gossip is often a way to include a person in the present circle of interaction even when he or she isn't present. I get most of my "news" or perhaps gossip from my postman, Jeff. He brings daily tidbits of what's happening in town, and more often than not is the cause for a rumor being started, then spread by me, that is all wrong.
I've gotten my share of "shame on you" but it never stops me from passing along what seems like a good piece of gossip. The news I get from Key West is usually positive or benign so I'm pretty safe from afar.
For example, I heard from Suzie Savich that she and Brian, together with the Zabars, are in Paris celebrating important anniversaries. My La Brisa friend, Marlene, told me about the animal shelter fundraiser at La Ti Da, held in true Key West fashion with entertainment provided by a talented pole dancer. Now that would be cause for gossip in my New England town! Mike M. and Bobby (of the Lobby) are back from their month in North Carolina and up to their elbows in new/old house renovations, left midstream. I've already reported on Mike's closet fiasco so no need dwelling on that.
Laurie Bjorklund, who owns the house I rent, has added onto her deck and done some spiffy furniture upgrades that I will surely enjoy. My ardent pen pal, Deborah Goldman, was saddened to take down the show at Deering Estate in Miami last weekend, but reports that it was successful and a wonderful environment to show her artwork. I received the request for a piece of my decoupage artwork for the annual AIDS benefit that takes place at TSKW sometime in March, another reminder that the season is about to begin. My friend Betsy Dietz is all involved in Fantasy Fest as well as the AIDS benefit. If you haven't been on Debra Yates website lately, check it out. She and her son are doing some exciting work in Miami as well as Key West.
Had dinner at my house the other night with George Korn and Thomas Livingston (the techy guru you all know in Key West and probably has some juicy gossip but is prone to discretion.) Still acting like newlyweds, they will be heading back down from Nantucket next week to their home at 18th Terrace. Artist Lynn Sherman and Jonathon Ingam will be here in Nantucket for the opening of scalloping season, next stop Key West.
In small towns, gossip is enjoyed, expected and accepted as a means of communication from time to time. "Have you heard any good gossip lately?" is often the way islanders greet each other in the market, especially from those we haven't heard from or about in awhile. We want to catch up on local gossip.
Really good gossip has an element of truth or believability surrounded by some juiciness, outrageousness, or unbelievability bordering on truth. "Good" gossip has to come with a bit of risque or suggested naughtiness attached to it. Some gossipers are more reliable than others. There is some gossip we shrug at and pass off "with a grain of salt." Others, we incorporate, exaggerate and add our own spin before quickly passing it along. Gossip often changes with each telling, which should make us suspect of oral history.
Because gossip has survived hundreds of years, it speaks volumes about our flirtation with it. As for me, I accept the fact that Jeff, my postman, has told everyone in town that I work in my pajamas and he never fails to announce, as he approaches my house, in a loud voice, "check for you!" which makes me believe the entire town knows my business.
Leslie Linsley has written more than 50 books on crafts, decorating and home style. She resides on Nantucket with her husband, photographer Jon Aron, and has a store on the island that specializes in her one-of-a-kind creations. Her latest book is "Key West, a Tropical Lifestyle" (Monacelli Press), with photos by Terry Pommett.