Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: Gnome captured by drug-tripping teens and stashed in their closet overnight is discovered in the morning to be a lost child.
Origins: In 2004, we encountered this story about a lost child happened upon by drugged-out teenagers, mistaken for a living fantasy creature (dwarf, hobgoblin, gnome) or statue version thereof, brought to the teens' home, and stashed in a wardrobe overnight. It has subsequently come to us a number of times, its details slightly changed from telling to telling. While little boys can be featured in this tale, usually the tot is said to be a girl of 5, 6, or
The story generally concludes with the youngster's being recognized by her captors for what she is only after having passed a night in their closet, while they slept off the effects of the drugs that had befuddled them. Her sobs get them to investigate the contents of their closet, where they discover their previous night's trophy is in fact a terrified
Most often, the story ends there, with no additional details given about what might have happened next. However, two versions we encountered described opposite finales: in one, the teens were said to be going to jail (presumably for holding the child captive overnight); in the other, they were hailed as heroes and given a cash reward (for finding and rescuing a lost child).
The tale has much in common with a far older urban legend about a stoned babysitter whose drug-addled state prompts her to cook the infant in her care because she thinks it a pot roast or turkey. In both stories, small children are misperceived as something else by drugged-out teens whose chemical pursuits have rendered them incapable of making sense of reality. These legends are cautionary tales meant to impart strong "Don't do this to yourself!" warnings about the powerful effects illegal drugs can have on the human brain.
The yarn is even more closely related to another legend in which a mentally less-abled adult mistakes a midget who comes to his door (salesperson, delivery person, Jehovah's Witness) for a troll, overpowers him, and holds him captive.
Barbara "finders creepers" Mikkelson
Last updated: 28 February 2010
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.