Rumors : Summary

Neil Simon\'s farce, Rumors, gives readers an in-depth look at the
lives of ten wealthy individuals attending a dinner party. In an
attempt to stay within the social crown, the characters start
unsubstantiated rumors about their friends in an attempt to make
themselves look better. The hosts of the party, Ken Gorman, and
his wife Chris must cover up the fact that a friend of theirs,
Charley Brock, has been shot in the ear lobe. They do not know how
he got shot, but they decide that he must have tried to commit
suicide, and thereby proceed to spread rumors about what they have
heard in an attempt to avoid a possible attempted suicide scandal.
They first lie to Charley\'s personal doctor, they lie about what
happened to all of the servants, and they finally about a second
gunshot heard in the house.

When the Gormans first encounter Charley in his bedroom, they
immediately call his personal doctor at the theater to tell him
that Charley feels just fine. Chris relates the story to the
doctor when she says, "Dr. Dudley, I\'m afraid there\'s been an
accident_ Well, we just arrived here at Charley\'s house about ten
minutes ago, and as we were getting out of our car, we suddenly
heard this enormous_ thud_ It seemed Charley had tripped going up
the stairs_ no, wait, down the stairs. Down the stairs. But he\'s
all right," (13). Finally, Chris manages to explain to the doctor
that Charley had not really hurt himself in the first place and
that she felt sorry to have bothered him at the theater. After
hanging up the phone, the Gormans put Charley in the shower to
wash off the blood, wrap a towel around his head to stop the
bleeding, and go back downstairs to wait for the rest of the party
guests. Lenny and Claire Ganz arrive at the party first.

Coming straight from a car accident, the Ganz\'s ask why Charley
has not joined them for the party. Ken Gorman explains that
Charley has had a rough day and he decided to take a nap for a
little while. Lenny exclaims that he has not had a thing to eat
since breakfast and wonders where Mai Li the cook has put all of
the food. Not wanting to explain that they have recently fired Mai
Li, the Gormans fabricate a story about her having to go back to
Japan to visit her sick mother. Claire asks, "But Mai Li is
Chinese, isn\'t she?" The Gormans look at each other and then Chris
quickly says, "I know. Her mother was visiting Japan." As a result
of this, they must ask their friends to help them prepare dinner
for their own party. They know that if they explain to the Ganz\'s
that they do not have enough money to keep her in service any
longer, they will fall of out favor with their friends. For this
reason, they find it necessary to fabricate stories to explain
happenings in the house. As the night progresses, they
consistently dig themselves into a deeper hole of lies.

The situation eventually gets terrible when Ken tries to hide the
gun so Charley can\'t find it to shoot himself again. On his way to
putting in the closet, Ken trips over Charley\'s slippers and
discharges the gun straight into the wall. The report occurred
right next to his ear, and for the rest of the play, Ken is almost
entirely deaf. Naturally, the Gormans cannot say that a gunshot
went off in the house, so they create a variety of different
excuses to explain the sound upstairs. At first, Claire decides
that a car backfiring has the most credibility, but because of the
volume of the sound, she later changes it to a manhole cover that
exploded. After some time, she again changes the story to a can of
shaving cream that exploded due to the pressure from the manhole
cover exploding. This story seems a little far-fetched to the
other guests, so she finally says, "Oh, I know. I know. I know
exactly what it was_ it was a balloon. They\'ve been blowing up
party balloons up there all day," (43). This answer seems
satisfactory enough for everyone, and they lapse back into their
normal conversations again.

The party in Rumors has a lot of humor to it, but on the other
hand, it shows just how far people will go just to be accepted by
their peers. Through deceit, the Gormans lied about Charley\'s
health to avoid an investigation. They lied about their lack of
hired help to remain