It can begin with a simple question. Someone asks you for your opinion about someone. You begin to casually outline the innocuous parts of your Real Thoughts. The conversation continues, and before long, what was once a pencilled tracing of your Real Thoughts becomes pen. No, wait, let's make that marker. Permanent. Bloody, thick lines of permanent black ink. And you're coloring it on, oh boy are you. It feels like a nice good binge standing in front of an open fridge (ok, here I may have lost the guys, but go with it). And you stand back, and have another moment that happens late night in front of the fridge- a moment of absolute and complete disgust with yourself.

Yesterday I found myself talking for an hour and a half about someone I don't know well enough to speak well of for an hour and half. I know this will show up on my report card from hell, but meanwhile, I'm struggling. I'm struggling with the notion of "venting" vs. "bitching" vs. "bouncing ideas". And I'm trying to understand the chemical reaction that takes place when you have particular thoughts or feelings and keep them inside, but the moment they hit the open air (whether in your booming drunken slur or in a delicate whisper), they are different. They are something out of your control. And there is no way to take them back.

I feel like there are some distinctions to be made in the maze of Gossipland. There is of course the elemental truth/falsity line. Then there's the personal-experience/secondhand. To talk about something that happened directly to you involving another person is often considered "reflection", "venting", "sharing your feelings". But if for some reason someone just rubs you the wrong way and you say it, there's NO explanation. Particularly in a world where we're supposed to be making logical decisions, not ones based on INTUITION, for God's sake. That's the title to an offensively pop Jewel song, and ipso facto, not a motto by which to live your life.

No one wants to believe that they're the engine or that they in any way contribute to the chain of evil that somewhat resembles gossip. If we're make a litmus test, I suppose it would be that you should feel good when you're done talking if it's not gossip (pink strip!); you should feel like you got something off your chest. Otherwise, you need to check yourself. And hope it's not too late.