There are two kings of people who blow through life like a breeze,
And one kind is gossipers, and the other kind is gossipees,
And they certainly annoy each other,
But they certainly enjoy each other,
Yes, they pretend to flout each other,
But they couldn't do without each other,

Because gossipers are lost without a thrill and a shock,
Because they like to sit in rocking chairs and gossip and rock and rock and gossip and rock,
And if the gossipees weren't there to give them a thrill and shock their life would be rocking and no gossip,
Which would be a flat as music without people named Sacha and Yehudi and Ossip,
While on the other hand everybody errs
If they think the gossipees could be happy without the gossipers,
Because you don't have to study under Freud or Adler or Coué,
To know that it isn't any fun being a roué if nobody notices that you are a roué,
And indeed connoisseurs agree
That even gossipers don't know anything about gossip until they have heard one gossipee gossiping about another gossipee.
Another good thing about gossip is that it is within everybody's reach,
And it is much more interesting than any other form of speech,
Because suppose you eschew gossip and just say
Mr. Smith is in love with his wife.
Why that disposes the Smiths as a topic of conversation for the rest of their life,
But suppose you say with a smile, that poor little Mrs. Smith thinks her husband is in love with her, he must be very clever,
Why then you can enjoyably talk about the Smiths forever.
So a lot of people go around determined not to hear and not to see and not to speak any evil,
And I say Pooh for them, are you a man or a mouse, are you a woman or a weevil?
And I also say Pooh for sweetness and light,
And if you want to get the most out of life, why the thing to do is to be a gossiper by day and gossipee by night.
Ogden Nash, from I'm a Stranger Here Myself

return to Perspectives on Gossip


  1. Yehudi: Yehudi Menuhin, a violinist later conductor. He debuted with the San Francisco Symphony at age 7. Age 80 in 1996.
  2. Ossip: Ossip Gabrilowitsch, a Russian maestro. Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
  3. Freud: Sigmud Freud, Austrian neurologist, founder of psychoanalysis.
  4. Adler: Alfred Adler, an Austrian psychiatrist.
  5. Coué: Emile Coué, a physician who studied hypnosis and suggestion.
  6. roué: man devoted to a life of sensual pleasure