Team dinner on Sunday; I ask a casual friend what she thinks of the Supreme Court’s marijuana decision. She says she doesn’t want to discuss it, because she knows I like to argue, and she doesn’t want to.

Last spring, people I never told it to knew that I don’t study on Sunday. Yesterday, one of the guys who does like to discuss politics and philosophy was explaining to me why Republicans and Democrats are both hypocrites. Another guy walks by and tells me to let up on him. He says I should stop starting debates with everyone. (This guy, last spring, made some comment about morality to the effect that you can never know for sure, so I did tackle him, and try to show the truth of absolute moral claims.)

Yesterday evening another friend told me I looked older with makeup. I said good, I’m trying to look older (so patients don’t take me for a high school girl who wandered in). She said, then I should change my hairstyle, because “some people” think my clips look like butterfly clips, and that makes me look younger. Not only are “they” discussing my personality, “they” are discussing my hairstyle!

Now I’m frankly worried. I thought I was unobtrusive, few friends, not talkative, but now it sounds like the whole school discusses my weird study habits, my political views, and my hairstyle. You know how your mom tells you not to be so nervous, everybody is not looking at you? I guess she was mistaken. On the other hand, I guess there’s a good side. Maybe everyone else in the class gossips about everyone else, not just me. I wouldn’t know.

But I guess if I can steer my discussions more towards religion, and then everybody discusses me discussing that, that will be good. I’m feeling rather uncertain of myself. I know I’m argumentative, I like to debate, and I know a lot of people don’t like such discussions. I didn’t think I’d been rude; if somebody doesn’t want to talk about a topic, they can say so, and I’ll leave alone. It’s not like I dislike people who disagree with me. Two of my best friends here are two black guys who despise Bush, but we enjoy throwing ideas and rhetoric back and forth. I mean, I can’t have a debate if no one will take the other side. But now it sounds like most of the school talks about me behind my back, and maybe avoids talking to me, because they’ve heard me talking to other people. But what am I supposed to do? Talk about hairstyles, and movies, and boyfriends/girlfriends? I’d rather read a book.

I was used to people in town gossiping about my dad and his family, because he’s high up in the medical hierarchy, and very kind, so people like to talk about him. I knew it wasn’t safe to say anything to the nurses, because they’d spread it all over town. But I thought it would get better once I was away from that community. Folks, do y’all gossip this much? Do people gossip about you this much?