Friday, October 15, 2010

Often What They Know...Just Ain't So...

A quarter of a century or so ago, the first nail salon opened its doors in my old neighborhood. Believe it or not, the concept seemed very, very strange back then. Locals were perplexed with the notion that a business entity could survive, let alone thrive, cutting, painting, and scraping dirt out of people’s fingernails. A manicure biz standing on its own two hands seemed at once foreign and far-fetched. Who pray tell would pay real money for simple services they could do for themselves with a ninety-nine cent nail clipper and two-dollar bottle of nail polish?

Flash forward to the present and these very same salons are ubiquitous, and nobody questions anymore their business potential or legitimacy. Gone are the days when a relative of mine speculated on what was really going on in these places—these fronts for all things nefarious. “They must be selling drugs,” she said with absolute certainty. Why...there could be no other explanation. Indeed, all those smiling and unfailingly polite Korean women, patiently sitting at their stations with scissors and nail files at the ready, were obviously up to no good. This very same member of my family has since christened other businesses, which she cannot quite comprehend, as drug dens, prostitution rings, or yet to be determined portals of mischief and debauchery.

The alarming component here is that there are so, so, so many people, akin to my blood relation, who absolutely know so, so, so many things—countless things, as a matter of fact, which just aren't so. And these all-knowing folks are not content to limit their wanton speculation to local businesses. No, many of our neighbors, in the very places where we live, assume the roles of judges, juries, and executioners with the flimsiest of evidence at their disposable.They know who among us is naughty, and who among us is nice, just like Santa Claus, and often based on idle gossip and hearsay.

That aforementioned kin of mine has more than once decreed what neighbors she feels lead the right kind of lives, and noted with utter disdain whom she deems the bums and ne'er-do-wells. Journalist Edgar Watson Howe once said, “What people say behind your back is your standing in the community.” I fear he was right.

1 comment:

  1. Mark Twain evidently said something to the effect of "It's not what you don't know that gets you into trouble; it's what you know for sure that just ain't so." So I figure it's safer to start with "I know nothing" and go from there. ;-)


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