The part of The County that I live in is known locally as "The Bible Belt" because of its large population percentage wise of churchgoers and the affect they have on the local area. Alcohol is not served or sold on Sundays in this stretch of The County, for example.
I think its all fine and good to call it The Bible Belt, but I think in reality it should be called The Gossip Belt.
Trust me, I'm getting as good at it as anyone.
I noticed from my first visit to The County (one year ago yesterday, to be exact) that this was the norm, as I imagine it is in most rural areas. When you live in a closed society, so to speak, what is happening within that society is important.
Of course this means that I now know far more than I really ever should have known about the people around me. Because here in The Gossip Belt, it is not uncommon to have piece of gossip - "Can you believe she's cheating on him with so and so?" - lead into the distant past - "I'm not surprised. I remember when she stole Amanda Smith's boyfriend in the 10th Grade by offering to 'tutor him'. She's always been that way." - then into distant family history - "I was told her father used to have two women on the side when he was a trucker going downstate, so its no surprise she turned out this way".
I choose to look at it as a positive. I get to learn everyone's names, for one, because I'm the slow guy at the table. "Who is she?" I'll ask and get the answer - "Oh, you know. She drives the white ford van and has the little kid that always wears a parka, even in Summer. You saw her at Thanksgiving at The Restaurant. She was at the table with the three kids that ate the crayons." So I have decided to use it as my who's who education here.
Of course, that leads me to worry about what is being said about me, naturally. In reality, though, what really can be said about me? I'm half of the only openly gay couple around these parts, so in most people's minds, they already know the "dirtiest" thing they can know about me, although many people still seem to think its odd that I'm not hiding what they must think of as a hush hush secret a little better. Other than that, I think most of the gossip centers around me working for "liberals". I figure it'll take another year or so for the really juicy rumors to start.
I'll keep my ear to the ground for you.