Nobody likes a bitch. Not in real life. Everyone loves a Blair Waldorf or Alexis Carrington on the small screen, but in reality those sorts tend to be the people you see at a party who will fawn over you whilst taking a swipe at whoever they were last speaking to. It is only a matter of time before you’re out of earshot and the subject of their next catty connivance. Knowing this makes colluding in any way feel dirty, cheap and more than a little uncomfortable; but what on earth is the alternative? Let’s face it – even when deriding a bitch we are essentially ourselves bitching.
OM and I nattered about this very issue today whilst soaking up the unseasonably good weather and eating some Gelato Mio ice cream on Pembridge Road. We strongly disagreed with each other. My policy on bitching is that it is fine to air an issue or have a little titter so long as it isn’t spiteful or mean-spirited. OM, however, is probably a little more honest about the magnetism of having a good old slanging session. He likens it to a storm clearing the air, a necessary component of keeping a friendship clean. He bitches to stop himself being a bitch, and really enjoys the process.
As much as the admission of the need to bitch behind someone’s back may not put him in the best light it is far, far preferable to the other alternative – the character who isn’t afraid to have a pop at you in front of others.
This sort (Bridget Jones refers to them as jellyfish – a rather apt sobriquet for there is nothing like their public sting) will laughingly tell people about the embarrassment you incurred that time you were fired/poorly/drunk/underpaid/overweight. Although they have acquired the stories through your confidence they seem to think little of publicising them. This then poses the dilemma of whether to pin them down for their slippery tongue or try to take it in the nature in which you know it was not intended. The public nature of this makes it difficult – if you don’t laugh along you look like a bad sport.
When juxtaposing the secret and public bitch I think the adage of not knowing not hurting rings very true.
The husband and I hit the Porchester last night for quiz night, a brilliant pub if you want a seat and like the old school convivial pub atmosphere (games in the corner and a good menu of burgers – not too much ‘gastro’ in this pub).
I asked him about how his friends bitched – did they phone each other for a session? Did they think each other horrible people if they were happy to lay into someone and then the next night go for a drink with the subject of ridicule? The answer was astounding – he and his friends just don’t spend time with anyone they don’t think is ‘sound.’ Far from feeling awkward if conversation dries up with a difficult character, and consequently nervously banging on about all and sundry, they are happy to walk away. And when assessing they see the component of pleasure as something of a litmus test for what kind of man someone is – to air grievances is fine, to enjoy assassinating a character isn’t. So if they were to encounter a Mr. Jellyfish they would respond with a witty retort. If that didn’t shut the blighter up then he would be out of the friendship group. That sounds so unbelievably applicable, such a pure way to socialise.
Someone, however, has just sent a message my way about an acquaintance of ours who has grown a little big for their boots in their opinion… To facebook research, or not to facebook research, that is the question…
I’ll be magnanimous tomorrow. Surely one last little bitch is fine?