How Rumors Get Started

The other day I saw something really strange go under my drawbridge. It looked like a sailboat mast, only… there was no sailboat beneath the mast. Maybe a really, REALLY tall periscope? An optical illusion? I’m just going to have to accept the fact that I’ll never know the end of that story. And maybe I need to get more sleep. Or update my eyeglass prescription. Or perhaps, like Scrooge, I was digesting a bit of underdone potato.

And then a friend sent me a link to a website about Willatuk, Seattle’s equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster. Jeez, glad I didn’t know about that before I went kayaking a few weeks ago. I’d have been rather creeped out.

Willatuk

While I always have and always will view stories about sea monsters with a healthy level of skepticism, the Willatuk website did suck me in for a second. Not in terms of believing the creature actually exists, but in terms of believing that other people believed it.

But then a few red flags popped up. First of all, the website mentions a Wonkatilla Tribe, which I’d never heard of, and couldn’t find on line except in relation to this website. It also mentions a tunnel 5 miles beneath the surface of Lake Washington which lets out into Puget Sound, and is supposedly the passage that this creature takes. Uh… Lake Washington is only 214 feet deep, folks.

And one couple supposedly saw Willatuk transiting through the locks. I think the people working the locks would have noticed that. And shut him in. And made a fortune off of him.

Upon further investigation, I discovered that the timeline of Willatuk sightings is a purely fictional creation of the guy who made the film Willatuk: The Legend of Seattle’s Sea Serpent. He also happened to make the website. This kind of gave me a giggle.

But it also irritates me a little, because not everyone will follow through the way I did. So I suspect that we’re now going to hear about the occasional Willatuk sighting, and eventually people will forget that it all started off as a work of fiction, and maybe 200 years from now fiction will be viewed as fact and… well, you know, that’s how rumors get started.

I leave you now with the (really bad) Ballad of Willatuk, which was also created for the movie. Because I love you, dear reader, I actually sat through the movie myself for research purposes, and it’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back and will always regret. No one has even bothered to rate it on the Rotten Tomatoes website, which is kind of a distinction in and of itself.

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4 thoughts on “How Rumors Get Started

  1. lyn sutton

    Lion fish bugs, strange fruit manifestations and now mysterious free floating mast like objects on the lake? I think you’ve been living in a Night Vale existence masquerading as “normal” reality but sometimes the mask slips. Not all legends are works of fiction, so don’t fear the rabbit hole. Follow it to the end of the story. Besides, being “normal” is a failure of achievable potential and rabbit holes make for great stories. 🙂

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