My, but the world does seem to get smaller and smaller everyday. A few days ago, one of our neighbors, who happens to be moving in just a few weeks, stopped over to chat while DH and I were outside playing with the little ones. Before I tell you what we were chatting about, I need to give you a bit of back story: I knew immediately upon meeting her that this neighbor, who we'll call "Nosy," was not the sort that I would ever be friends with, or with whom I'd share anything that I didn't want the whole world to know. She's nice enough, but that only gets you so far when, as soon as you turn your back, she's gossiping about you to the rest of the street (along with anyone else who will listen). Nosy is the kind of person who will smile at you as you walk past and then turn to the person next to her and whisper, "You know what I heard about her..."
Typically, I don't trust people who share other peoples' private information with me, and Nosy was all about that. Once, when I was watching my kids play outside, she walked up to me and volunteered the "news" that one of our other neighbors had had a miscarriage. I remember thinking, "That's none of my business, and if it had been me who'd suffered the miscarriage, I certainly wouldn't have wanted that information shared with everyone on my street." I loathe the idea that there are people out there who exploit another person's misfortune because of their own selfish and unhealthy need for attention. Though I already knew to expect that kind of behavior from her, that moment just solidified the thought that the woman had little, if any, desire to behave honorably. And, oh the propensity for drama!
During a backyard barbeque we went to at her house last summer, she tried to regale me with tall tales of excitement and intrigue, that all happened right here in her backyard! While her husband stood behind us, rolling his eyes and refuting her stories, she told me, "There were like a hundred fire trucks right here on the street last night! I'm surprised you didn't hear it! I had to call them because there was a drunk man spinning around our backyard in his car! He almost took out the beams holding our deck up!" One look at the backyard told me that no one had been burning rubber in her backyard. One look at her husband told me that "a hundred firetrucks" was probably more like one police car. I wondered whether the man was really drunk, or if he was just wandering around looking for directions. Her story was so grossly exaggerated that it had easily crossed from truth to lie.
Nosy was definitely not my idea of a best gal pal. She was too superficial, too meddlesome, and far too willing to gossip about things I wouldn't want gossiped about. I warned DH to stay away from her, except to perhaps to say a polite "hello" or to talk about superficial things. This was not because I'm a jealous spouse or because I don't ever want DH to be in the presence of a female, (though I don't believe that truly platonic relationships are anything but rare) this was just my judgement call on one particularly pesky neighbor.
A few weeks ago, she caught me walking down the street and asked me if I wanted to spend a bit of girl time with her and another neighbor who's husband was out of town. I obliged, mostly because I wanted to have a beer and girl talk sounded appealing (something that's rare for me, as "girl talk" usually entails a lot of giggling and superficial chit chat). So I went over, had a beer, and mostly listened. I listened to them badmouth their husbands (which, from the sounds of it, they deserved), but I did not badmouth my own. I listened to them discuss how many times they'd been to rehab and all the drugs they'd tried in college. I listened to them reveal that they had been pregnant before they got married, and confessed to the same because I feel no shame in it. I walked away from my one beer and two hours of girl talk, all the more enlightened and resolute that I'd been right about Nosy to begin with.
So, fast-forward to a couple days ago when she stopped by for a chat with us. (She and her husband have been stopping over occasionally to offer us furniture and kid's toys that they don't want to take with them when they move.) She caught site of a book that was sitting on our patio table and said, "Oh, what are you reading?" It was Toxic Parents. A wonderful book, but not exactly the easiest to explain to nosy neighbors. I opted not to and just to let her think whatever she wanted to think. Eventually, we got around to talking about where Nosy was moving to, which she'd already revealed a while back but had not yet confirmed. As it turns out, she is moving to the same town NMIL lives in, and even looked at and considered buying NMIL's McMansion for sale.
And it gets weirder. Nosy actually told us that she "felt bad" for NMIL, because when she and her husband asked her if she would consider lowering the price of the house, NMIL told her she couldn't and that she was upset because she'd gotten a cash offer on the house when it had first gone on the market and she had declined. The way Nosy was describing the interaction, you would have thought the two had actually chatted face-to-face, a possibility I have not yet discounted once I considered the source of the information being shared.
Let's pause here for a moment and reflect: When she was talking about all this, I couldn't help but think that NMIL and Nosy were like a match made in Heaven. Nosy is just the kind of person who would be attracted to someone like NMIL, and NMIL would eat her up in a hot second and immediately turn her into a Flying Monkey...especially if she had any inkling that Nosy lived on our street. (Like, who needs to hire a P.I. when you've got a neighbor with a degree in peeking over fences and a propensity for feeding the gristmill?) You know all my theories about how narcissists attract the most superficial people, who are always more than willing to do their dirty work? Well, this little relationship, however slight, between NMIL and Nosy is the perfect example. The world isn't all that big with this many narcissists running around. And just look at NMIL! She's so good at her craft that she's able to invoke pity in others through a third party: chances are good that NMIL and Nosy have not met (yet) and that they were merely communicating through emails sent from their respective real estate agents, and NMIL was STILL able to invoke pity in her target. Phew. That's a real mind-fuck right there.
A fellow blogger and Truth-fighter, Vicarious Rising, had this to say during one of our behind-the-scenes discussions about Nosy's behavior: "It's annoying how [Nosy] had to mention feeling sorry for your NMIL. Poor
bitch made a stupid investment. Boo hoo. I have a hard time buying the
cash offer for her home, not unless it was the late 90s/early 2000s, and
even then it's a tough story to buy. I was in the mortgage industry
once upon a time, so I have a little knowledge. My bet would be that
she's embellishing to make her home seem that much more appealing." Vicarious said it well, the whole "cash offer" tidbit shared by NMIL really does seem like it was just a fabrication on her part to get what she wanted (in this case, to sell her house to some unsuspecting fool). If anything, I do have hope that there aren't as many suckers out there in the world as I had previously thought: Her house has been on the market for almost seven months and she keeps having to lower the price. Cash offer, my ass.
I have no doubts whatsoever that if NMIL and Nosy ever do meet, that Nosy will immediately become her "new best friend forever" and that she'll switch over to the dark side faster than you can say Jonsi's MIL is a narcissist.
What did we say to Nosy, when she realized that she'd looked at DH's mother's house and that she'd been talking with his mother? What did we say when she point-blank asked if DH is talking with her? The same thing we'd say to a five-year-old who just realized that "Daddy has a Mama too?" We told Nosy that DH does not talk to his mother because, "She's not a nice person." The only thing I added, which I often add when I feel like explaining a bit further, was that, "The bitch wore white to my wedding." I always figure that particular detail paints a pretty good picture of who NMIL is, and that most women will get that. Nosy looked at me with her mouth wide open and said, "She didn't! That's so mean!" Then she added, "Well, now that I know she's not nice I don't feel bad for her anymore."
I laughed at that, inside my own head. Sure, sure you don't, honey. But we all know that when you bump into her on the street in the town where you now both live and you realize who she is, you'll share every bit of information you have about us with her. And when she complains about me to you, you'll collude and commiserate with her, telling her that you "never much liked Jonsi" either. And that's fine, because that's who you are and it really doesn't matter to me. I can rest easy, knowing that you don't know much, that I've protected what I am able to protect, and that you'd just be joining the ranks of Jonsi-Haters and they'll be lucky to have you. I could never have known, those few years ago, that Nosy would someday move to NMIL's town, or that she'd be looking to buy NMIL's house, or even that the two might be friends someday. But I knew enough to know that she meant trouble, and I did what I needed to do to keep us as safe as possible. And I'm happy that I've learned from my mistakes over the years, enough to keep me from over sharing with people who mean me and my loved ones harm. That was something I might have done years and years ago, but no longer.
Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say. At least it's off my street now.