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Shell Shocked: See how rumors start?

By Staff | May 13, 2015

Wild rumors are one rung below juicy gossip on the meaningless conversations we all have at the Bailey’s checkout line. Rumors tend not to be based on fact but on speculation. Juicy gossip is often based on tidbits of truth but in a vastly exaggerated way.

There are many rumors and juicy gossip circulating throughout Sanibel. See if you can distinguish between the two. The following examples will give you a head start.

Rumor: Doc Ford’s new restaurant on Tarpon Bay Road will accommodate 500 customers and 800 cars. The new facility will absorb 500 acres of Ding Darling, enabled through the law of eminent domain which will be passed unanimously by the Sanibel City Council. The rationale is that the 500 acres can be put to better use by food chomping diners than by a few ugly birds.

Juicy gossip: Randy Wayne White, the best-selling author of the Doc Ford mysteries and other crime noirs, is demanding $1 million from the restaurant’s other owners to continue the licensing of the Doc Ford name. White has threatened to pull the name off all three present Doc Ford’s restaurants if his demands aren’t met.

In a show of defiance the primary owners of the three Doc Ford’s restaurants have drawn up a list of substitute names in the event White goes through with his threat. On their list to replace the name Doc Ford’s are such other crime thriller staples as Miss Marple, Sam Spade, Mike Hammer, Hercule Poirot, and Philip Marlowe.

Can you imagine it? I’ll meet you at Sam Spade’s?

Now that you get the idea that rumors are different from juicy gossip, see if you can tell the difference between the following fractional truths floating around Sanibel:

Rumor: Now that the Shell station next to Bailey’s on Periwinkle has fled the coop, a late night disco is being planned on that site to accommodate the growing corps of night-lifers in Sanibel.

This rumor is close to the truth but not quite accurate. Plans have actually been drawn up to build a planetarium where the Shell station was to accommodate night life. This planetarium will present every single planet, star, asteroid and North Korean space station that hovers over Sanibel. Funds for this initiative will be equally shared between NASA and Donald Trump. The Sanibel City Council sees this planetarium as a first step to attract the Disney crowd.

Juicy gossip: Kim Kardashian is spearheading a fundraising event in Sanibel to protect nesting locations for sea turtles. An outdoor concert will take place at Noah’s Ark in August and will feature the music of Lady Gaga’s sister, Lady Googoo. Johnny Depp will be on hand to distribute stardust and Twinkies.

As appealing as this anecdote is there’s no truth to it at all. Sanibel causeway toll collectors are under strict orders to turn away the Kardashian caravan to protect the community from hordes of paparazzi. There will be no fundraising event to protect nesting locations for sea turtles. However, what is true is that Ding Darling conservationists will play Frank Sinatra love songs during the next sea turtle nesting season under the premise that a little romantic music can’t hurt.

Get the difference yet between wild rumors and juicy gossip? Well, one more example:

Juicy gossip: A well-known happily married Sanibel couple has decided to split after 30 years of marriage. The husband is well known and respected in Sanibel. He serves on the boards of a number of local nonprofit organizations and owns a great deal of commercial real estate. After all these years he’s decided to give in to his basic instincts and go through a transgender procedure to become a kangaroo. His wife is devastated.

“Just when you think you know someone after so many years of being together, the truth is you just don’t know anyone the way you think you do. I told him I’d accept him as a kangaroo, if that’s what he wants, but he doesn’t think it’s fair to the marriage and our children three grown antelopes.”

Yes, this is unmitigated gossip. We don’t know anyone in Sanibel who prefers being a kangaroo instead of a member of the male homo sapiens society. However, I do have some friends who prefer to be golf clubs and will allow themselves to squirm their way into any available golf bag as either a driver or a wedge.

Friends, I do hope I’ve enabled you to now distinguish between wild rumors and juicy gossip. And I leave it to you to determine which of the situations I’ve described above is either of the two. What’s a two martini cocktail hour without rumors or gossip filling the air? If you didn’t have them you’d be entertaining yourselves by looking for all the Albert Einsteins in the Sanibel phonebook and quickly reaching for that third martini.

Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.