March 30, 2023

Rumor That Took Off Like A Rocket


When I started the rumor that I was being considered for the Pulitzer Prize in literature, I was just having what I thought was a little innocent fun. But like most rumors this one took off like a rocket aimed at the moon, and before I could quell the whole matter, I found myself being feted from one end of our little island kingdom to the other.

People were equally divided between congratulating me on a personal accomplishment, and congratulating themselves for living in a place soon to be made famous. I tell you, if I had the capacity for repentance and a hope for an improved life, I would have been properly ashamed of myself. Lacking such capacity, however, I enjoyed the whole thing, hugely.

Now, I’m not exactly new to the rumor-starting business, and I’ve been rather successful at it. I began by quietly asserting to a group of ladies at the Country Club that I was a good and faithful husband. It wasn’t a week later my wife came up behind me in my workshop, put her arms around me and told me what a good and faithful husband I was. Thus emboldened, I let it be known in the community what a fine and noble father I was, and within days I found my kids viewing me with more respect, and demonstrating more good manners than I thought them capable of.

The nice part of riding the front of this Doppler-like effect is that it does all the hard work for you. You might think in your heart that you’re a good and faithful husband and a fine and noble father, but then you have to do things to earn these distinctions. But, if you are credited with those qualities through the strength of rumor, it’s like receiving medals for gallantry before going into battle.

Your loved ones shape their attitudes in keeping with a fait accompli sentiment, born and sustained by the seeming good opinion of others. Then all you have to do is keep the belief alive. Nor did I stop with my family. I saw to it that a rumor circulated among my fellow publishers that I and my company were on the State of Arizona’s select list of publishers, and that my opinion was sought for such notable and diverse publications as Arizona Highways and Legislative Review. The last part of this might have stretched the truth, but it didn’t exactly break it. I had written a story for Arizona Highways, and one of my editorials was published in the Legislative Review. It’s probably a sad commentary on the human condition that perception can be so easily shaped by nothing more than the whisperings of rumor.

A thing doesn’t have to possess any greater tangibility than that to determine knavery or knighthood. And knowing this, I thought that so long as no one got hurt it was okay to have those whisperings work for me. I didn’t aspire to office or to personal wealth; I merely wished for the good opinion of my family and friends. But when my planted rumor regarding the Pulitzer began to gain for me a notoriety and lionization I didn’t deserve, things began to get out of hand. And I knew that the inevitable result was going to be public humiliation on a scale Richter would appreciate.

There was only one thing to do. And so, right after the ticker-tape parade through the Doodlebug business district which concluded on the steps of town hall, library, and Fuzzy’s Do-it-yourself Laundry, I announced my withdrawal from Pulitzer contention in favor of a shy, down-and-out Irish authoress whose work was not only praiseworthy, but would be the means of rescuing her and her ancient mother from the cruel ravages of poverty. The crowd loved it and held me up as an even greater hero than before.

And now, dear reader, it’s time for me to ‘fess up.’ There isn’t a word of truth in any of this. I made the whole thing up perhaps out of a nostalgic hope for what might have been.

Of course, it could happen. Lightening could strike. The Pulitzer people could take notice, especially if it were to be rumored by enough of you that they should.

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