A gossip reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a babbler.
Proverbs 20:19 (NRSV)
The writers for I Love Lucy came up with some wonderful storylines for the Ricardos and the Mertzes and I remember the episode about gossiping well. The episode opened with Lucy telling Ricky about some of her friends and their run-in with “the law.” Ricky tells Lucy he wants her to refrain from gossiping and that he did not want her to tell Ethel when the Mertzes arrived for a visit. Lucy exits just before Fred and Ethel arrive.
Once the Ricardos’ guests are seated, Lucy appears with a bandage over her mouth, and after Ricky’s sharing about her gag and the gossiping, Ethel is dying “to get the scoop” on their mutual friend. Lucy proceeds to pantomime the entire story to Ethel’s delight and to Ricky and Fred’s amusement. Ethel got the story and the four of them enter into a discussion about men and women and gossiping. The men bet the women that the women will be the first to gossip.
A few days pass and neither the men nor the women participate in gossiping. Ricky and Fred cook up a scheme to tempt the women to gossip first. They decide that “in their sleep” they will mention that a neighbor Grace Foster is having an affair with the milkman. Ricky and Fred carry off their plan … speaking loud enough in their feigned sleeping so that Lucy and Ethel are roused from their sleep to hear the juicy gossip about Grace Foster.
The next day Lucy and Ethel are dying to tell each other about Grace, but they do not want to lose the bet. Lucy finally explodes telling the entire sordid story. Meanwhile Fred and Ricky have been listening through the furnace pipe and call out to Ethel and Lucy … reminding them that they have broken their promise and have lost the bet. Lucy and Ethel begrudgingly consent and will serve Ricky and Fred breakfast in bed for a month.
While Ricky and Fred are being served breakfast, a terrified milkman comes into the Ricardos’ bedroom seeking protection from an irate Bill Foster. He is threatening to kill the milkman. Lucy talks some sense into Mr. Foster and then he leaves. Lucy then states that Ricky and Fred were doing the gossiping. She and Ethel demand breakfast in bed and Ricky and Fred retreat to the kitchen. The milkman then comes out from hiding and Lucy pays him and gives him some money for Mr. Foster with her compliments to them for their marvelous acting. She arranged for the gossip to become “the truth.” Regardless of whether the story was true, the gossiping could have hurt others if it had gone on outside the Ricardos’ apartment.
Dear God, whether the story is true or fabricated, gossip can hurt people and destroy lives. Thank You, Lord, for encouraging us not to associate with those who babble. Help us always to speak the truth in love. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.