June 1, 2007


"What's the latest?" officemate A asks officemate B as she settles into what looks like another uneventful workday.

"Yilmaz was a no-show in LA, Miss USA fell on her butt, Dennis and Marjorie called it quits," comes the disinterested reply. B is not really that chatty in the first place.

A leaves in a huff, telling every body within her line of vision that B is in a bad mood. "But B is always in a bad mood," C chimes in, and for the better part of the day, A and C--along with D, E & F--spend their energy talking about B, her moods and more.

Such is the way with gossip. You ask, you get a reply. But you don't really listen. You digest only what you want to hear, draw your own conclusions, inject your own opinions and pass on the story as "straight from the horse's mouth."

Or you see something (even if you don't have 20/20 vision), you imagine hearing something (but you don't have ultrasensitive ears) then go blabbing about "what happened" from the first-person point of view.

Or someone floats the idea of something, your mind goes "aha, so that's why..." and the story goes on and on and on, losing all semblance of the truth as it goes on its merry way.

For sure, chismis is the byproduct of idle minds. In the office, for example, it almost always starts with departments that have seasonal peaks, or those that are so over-manned that killing time is the primary function. Or during over-extended coffee and cigarette breaks. In neighborhoods, gossip travels over gumamela bushes and through gaps in fences, from sari-sari stores and barber shops. In the palengke it starts as cheery banter between the vendor and the vendee and is dissected (and deboned) during the off hours, when there is just way too much time.

Showbiz chismis is, of course, an entirely different thing. Names and industries are made because of rumors-- the nastier, the better. And this is why you get the likes of Ruffa and Kris, washing their dirty linen in public and begging for privacy in the same breath.

It drives me crazy every time some star tearfully pleads to be given breathing space while the talk show host nods along condescendingly. But showbiz chismis does perk up Sunday afternoons. And makes for good enough conversation at the office on lazy Monday mornings. Unless something crops up at the office that has definitely much more meat and juice than Annabel and Ruffa and Kris combined...

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