I'd like to tell you a story, about a little... er... dog, if I can...

>> Monday, October 20, 2008

Here's why people make up stories: because reality, as awesome and spectacular as it is, is clearly insufficient sometimes.

Case in point: the tabloid The Sun is reporting that teenagers in Argentina were harassed by a "creepy gnome." Not only that, but the headline tells us the creepy gnome is back, implying the creepy gnome has been around before and has returned again to strike fear at unsuspecting Argentinians. And the first paragraph confirms:

A NEW sighting of South America’s ‘creepy gnome’ has caused panic among locals after a group of youngsters claimed a ‘midget monster’ ran towards them at night.

("Midget monster"--hmmm... was it a giant midget monster...?)

They even have video, taken from a cell phone, and here is where my heart breaks a little inside: the creepy gnome is pretty obviously a small, black dog. It even barks at them. If this is a hoax, I think it can not only be fairly nominated for worst hoax ever, but included as a general sign of the decline of human civilization: what ever happened to the days of investing time into pocking a gypsum statue of a giant with fake pores or scrounging up a skull and jawbone and filing down the teeth and carefully aging the bones with chemicals for several months? It used to be that a hoax really required some time and thought, involved some investment of time and money and careful patience. Now some asstard with a cell phone films a dog and it's an internet sensation. It's sad, is what it is, although I can't help suspecting the real hoax is on the part of The Sun, as a belated and random act of revenge against Argentina for unsuccessfully claiming some British islands off their own coast--if that's the case, what happened to that whole "good sportsmen" thing you Brits used to be famous for--you kicked Argentina's ass twenty-five years ago, there's no good reason for trying to make Argentinians look stupid now.

But what's really, truly most heartbreaking in all of this is simply the fact that there really should be creepy gnomes that run around growling at people and running away. How cool would that be? You walk in the door, your significant other calls out to ask how your day was, you reply, "Oh, nothing much--gnome growled at me in the driveway, that's about it." It's very Harry Potter-ish, I know. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them informs us that the gnome:

...is a common garden pest found throughout northern Europe and North America. It may reach a foot in height, with a disproportionately large head and hard, bony feet. The gnome can be expelled from the garden by swinging it in circles until dizzy and then dropping it over the garden wall.

(Potterverse fans will recall that de-gnoming the garden is an unpleasant outside chore frequently assigned to Harry, Ron and Hermione whenever they're staying at the Weasleys' and the adults need them out of the way.)

I actually find myself imagining giant mousetrap-like gnometraps, baited with whatever gnomes like to eat, and the gnome trips the plate and slaaaam, although I suppose I don't know how you dispose of a gnome with a broken neck and I guess they might be an attractive nuisance as far as children are concerned. It might only work, then, if you could bait it with something children don't like but gnomes do, but I don't know if gnomes like homework and how do you bait a trap with a nap? And if the thing gnomes mostly like is pizza, well I imagine you'll end up killing or maiming half the neighborhood, so that wouldn't work....

See what I mean? The idea that of growling, creepy gnomes is a helluva lot better than the commonplace notion that it's really hard for a possibly-drunk Argentinian to use a 3-megapixel phone camera to shoot a non-blurry film of a dog late at night.


Supposing the dog wasn't agitated by them? Suppose he was trying to warn them of something--maybe his owner was trapped in a well or there was a robbery in progress--and these fellows with the cell phone were so besotted they thought the dog was a barking gnome and ignored the dog's frantic yaps? That might be....

No, I stand by my previous assertion. A gnome would be better. Possibly because of his hat.


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