Remember the telephone game? One person would come up with a sentence and you would sit around in a circle and whisper the sentence to the person next to you, who in turn would whisper it to the person next to her, etc. By the end of the line a sentence like we have no homework today turns into eric wears dirty socks.
That really happened. Fourth grade. I was the last person and had to announce the eric wears dirty socks line to the class but I had a crush on Eric and didn't want to embarass him so I ran to the back of the class and hid under the coats instead, thus embarassing myself and and suffering further distress when I realized Eric was laughing at me.
Anyhow. This is how rumors get started. It always starts out with the truth: There was a robbery.
But there are several parts to the truth: There was a robbery and a carjacking.
There are people who like to embellish things a bit: There was a robbery and a carjacking and you should have seen the guns they were carrying!
Then there are the people who, in order to make you believe their embellishments, will lie that they knew someone who saw the whole thing: My sister's neighbor's daughter's boyfriend was driving past and he saw a bloody guy laying halfway out of the car.
It just snowballs from there. Did you hear? There was a kid in the car they hijacked. No, but did you hear that they were escapees from the jail? I heard they took someone hostage. They were running through the school! They were firing shots at houses! They were terrorists!
So, by the end of the day the story goes like this:
There were four prisoners who escaped from the jail, were thrown weapons from a helicopter rented by an accomplice, robbed a jewelry store/Carvel/florist/drug store, kidnapped a teacher, robbed a car with an FBI agent in it and a baby in the back seat, set a house on fire, killed a cop, started the war between Pakistan and India, fixed the 1918 World Series, stole the Stanley Cup and pissed in it, brought down the Roman Empire, dug up Jimmy Hoffa and shot both J.R. and Mr. Burns.
This is how urban legends get started. This is how rumors spread about earwigs forming a nest in someone's brain and kidneys being sold on the black market and the one armed, one legged man who sliced the babysitter in half with his hook arm.
Years from now, my kids will be telling the story about the day that they were forced under the desks at school to hide from machine gun fire that was being sprayed by escaped mimes who were revolting against labor laws and forced their way into a drugstore where they held the NyQuil salesman hostage. And how their principal fainted at the site of the police helicopters so the kids took over and overcame the mimes and fed them to the circus lions.
And someone will say, oh my god if i had just left work two minutes earlier and turned left instead of right and backtracked around the traffic circle and drove 33 1/3 miles per hour, I would have been right in the middle of it!