You Were: The Hoaxer

August 19, 2010

You grew up in the state of Minnesota where your family owned a goat farm. This was back in the day when goat cheese (and goat milk soap and other goat-related products) wasn’t quite as popular (or profitable) as it is today. Your farm was always teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. So when the state decided to build a new road between two nearby villages, the powers that be saw no problem with bulldozing a path straight through your goat barn. One town official was even quoted as saying he’d be doing your parents a favor by putting them out of business once and for all.

You were not about to let that happen—to your parents or your beloved goats. (Which are really quite wonderful creatures. I had three when I was a kid. But I digress.) You knew there was no point in protesting. In those days, no one took twelve year olds seriously.  (Especially twelve-year-old girls. But again, I digress.) So you locked yourself in your room for two days and hatched a diabolical plan.

The mayor of the town nearest you was a ruddy, blonde man of Icelandic heritage. His parents both hailed from Reykjavik, and his mother had been your grade school’s librarian. One afternoon, years before, she had discovered you hiding in one of the aisles, engrossed in a book about fairies and elves. Instead of taking you by the ear and leading you down the hall to the class you were skipping, she merely bent down and whispered in your ear, “In Iceland, we believe there’s an elf or two beneath every rock.” Then she’d gone about her business, leaving you flabbergasted and confused.

For some reason, that statement had lodged itself in your brain. Months later, you were still thinking about it day and night—and wondering what the old lady could have meant. Fortunately, one of your aunts became engaged to an Icelander. When he paid a visit to your goat farm, he assured you the librarian hadn’t been pulling your leg. Many people in Iceland truly believed their land was filled with “hidden people”—fairies and elves. And they believed it was terrible luck to cross them. Anyone who destroyed the homes of hidden people would find himself cursed for life.

Locked in your room, searching for a way to save the family farm, you recalled that conversation. You said nothing to your parents, of course. They were hard working, honest types who never would have approved of what you were about to do. So instead, your recruited your three younger siblings.

It took two weeks to craft the costumes and an additional week to perfect the makeup. But once you were done, no one would have guessed that the children were anything other than tiny, ancient, otherworldly creatures. And when the authorities arrived at your front door with eviction papers in hand, the “elves” were waiting to put on a show.

They didn’t dance any jigs or flutter around on silky wings. You’d instructed your siblings to simply pop out from behind the farm’s rocks or trees and glare at the intruders. Once they were spotted, they would count to five and then disappear.

The men were suitably spooked, but the eviction order was still delivered. You’d anticipated as much. You also knew that an unannounced visitor could be expected the very next day.

When the mayor and his Icelandic mother drove up to your farm, the “elves” had already taken their places. They stood in the distance and shook their fists. They scampered through the barn and left weird little footprints behind in the mud. One was even spotted riding a goat. The mayor’s mother rushed back to the car and locked all the doors. You couldn’t hear the argument that followed when her son quickly joined her, but you knew you’d managed to save the day.

The mayor never gave any reason for rerouting the road around your family farm. (How could he?)  But your parents’ business was never threatened again. You eventually took over and passed the farm to your own daughter when you died. Today, it’s one of the largest producers of gourmet goat cheese in the country.

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