Going Deep: Oh, Gnome You Didn't!
Woo! Juggling all these different things while getting ready for Amanda’s maternity leave has been quite a feat.
It’s been a wild time, over here at Seriously Sinister. As it currently stands, I am writing this article on the day of Amanda’s planned C-section. I’m getting guests together for when she gets back, while also scheduling with my guest co-hosts during her leave. So, I am falling a bit behind on the blog. Oops.
To give myself a little bit of a break here, I am going to keep it short while doing my deep dive into the most recent story of mine, Oh, Gnome You Didn’t!
This is one of my favorite listener stories that I’ve ever done, and this marks my first time going deep on a listener story. There’s not a ton of detail I can go into while going deep into this, as it is a listener story, and I’m not working off an article. However, I can provide the entire email that our listener, Kamryn, provided us, as well as the little answer to our question that she sent to me after the episode came out.
Between Amanda and I, I will usually catch a listener story and suggest it to her first. I’m not entirely sure why I quickly pass them off. I suppose maybe a lot of that comes from me not wanting to take the fun away from her. She always gets dibs, because I never want her to feel FOMO. Plus, she just gets so excited when listeners send in stories (hint, hint)
So I offered it to her, but due to Amanda’s pregnancy struggles, it took her forever to look into it. Not only that, but I had no idea that she was already working on two listener stories, at the time. So it came back to me. Totally not complaining.
I wasn’t inspired with the story until I had attempted to give it to Amanda. The second I let go of it, I started getting sound effect ideas and felt like I wanted to blaze the trail that leads to those sound effects. So I took it on!
I took a different approach with the music for this story. Trading in my slow-building ambient swells for a bouncy little synthesizer string effect. It felt like something that was made for a drumbeat, but I still haven’t totally dived into adding full drums into our songs. With the spaces within the note hits, it does give it a bit of a dance vibe. As it goes with the creation of most of my songs, I wasn’t super sure about it and I was second guessing it most of the way through.
But, as this show is a bit of an exercise in letting go, I just pushed through and finished the thing. Once it was put underneath the words, I ended up really liking it. It has a nice moving vibe and something about it really feels like you’re walking through a flashback scene in a movie.
I knew immediately when I got this story back that I had to go with a fairy tale angle. As much as Disney references have already popped up in my stories before, there was just no denying how much was available for me if I went in that direction.
The story starts out with my patented Twilight Zone-esque intro monologue. I begin with a dissection of fairy tales, and all that they teach us as kids. I feel like there is so much more I could have gone into, but it’s not like I was writing a thesis paper on the effects of Disney on the child psyche.
But Disney really has taught a lot of us so many things. Although there is a lot of problematic parts of their past, there are mostly good intentions in their stories? I think? The ideas of love, doing the right thing and conquering evil are at least admirable, if you don’t look too terribly close at some of the details surrounding certain stories. Oh well, forget I said this.
“We grow up believing in magic, wonder and love only to have the rug pulled out from under us when we are younger”
Yep, there I go again with my elder-millennial angst. “it’s all nice, it’s all all good… UNTIL YOU BECOME AN ADULT AND EVERYTHING SUCKS!” *Metal violently starts playing* That is one of the things I love most about our show. That millennial cynicism. The dreadful dilemmas that are usually not that dreadful and always showing how life altering small, first-world, problems can be. It just feels like this show really gets me…
This also gave me a good place to bring up scam bots on Insta. We’ve all dealt with at least one. Writing this, I didn’t realize that I was going to learn something, but I wanted to come up with a funny hypothetical that scam bots don’t want to hack your account or take your money. They just want to put racy animal photos on your computer.
Just to show you how far I go into detail, or how bad my OCD can plague me with being creative, I struggled hard with the type of dog I wanted to use. I wanted something small, but also seductive. But not only that, I learned that wiener dogs are called dachshunds. I’ve always called them “dotsons.” So, I googled it and came up with dachshunds and then had a huge crisis on the proper way to pronounce the word. I had to call Emily in just to ask. And a little inside baseball for you, I still screwed up it and said “Dash-hounds” the first time I read that line for Amanda.
This casting of doubt on our fairy tale dreams led me down a bit of a skeptical rabbit hole. I know I am especially one, but there are so many of my millennial aged brethren who are just a little too suspicious of good things now. I blame the original lollipops and rainbows world I was born in for why I see such a dark contrast now. But hey, that’s how we all get this dark sense of humor.
I do make sure to bring the super positive and magic believers into this. I do truly believe that they are the lights that shine a path through our dark world… Even if I find them to be foolish for being so trusting.
Once my preamble is done, I’m able to set the stage for my story. Every detail about Kamryn’s living situation was straight from her. Even the bedroom being a large walk-in closet was directly from her. *Poor girl*
I had a lot of fun explaining Meah. There are a few people in my life that served as inspirations for this character. I imagine that a lot of people like this are the same, but the one thing that sets her apart is that one fatal flaw….
“..Anytime something wouldn’t work out for Meah, she would blame all of her problems on gnomes.”
This girl really did get meltdowns over all the things in her life going wrong. And the easiest explanation for this was that fairy tale creatures caused all of this, not her own actions. It turns out that her uncle told her he was a great wizard who had angered some old gnomes. Now, the gnomes are terrorizing her whole family.
This recap of her uncle is exactly why I was happy to take the story back over. Writing the sound effects for that wizard backstory was perfect for me. I thought about being completely extra, like Tolkien, and write an entire language for all of these characters.. But come on, time. Who has it?
Meah eventually get more comfortable with Kamryn and gets even more lazy with her cleaning. Kamryn goes on a silent strike, hoping Meah will see that it’s her mess, but that lack of self-awareness is a magic all its own. It even gets to a point where Meah calls Kamryn for the mess.
This leads to a confrontation where Kamryn completely loses it. She screams obscenities until she is left home alone, which then causes her to lose it even more. Kamryn destroyed the apartment and locked the door’s chain lock on her way out.
Coming back from work, she was ready to fight but was greeted by a crying Meah.
“The gnomes were at it again!”
Meah sees Kamryn and runs to her for comfort, never to even get suspicious of her. In this moment, Kamryn is shown just how much Meah really believes in gnomes.
As the story ends, Kamryn waits until all of her stuff is moved out, buys a gnome at Walmart and leaves it in the house for her.
If the petty destruction wasn’t enough for this petty crime, the leaving of the gnome surely cemented Kamryn into the petty hall of fame. You are vandal hero, Kamryn!
Oh, Gnome You Didn’t!
Based on a listener story by Kamryn
Growing up, we’ve all heard our fair share of fairy tales. From teaching us lessons, making us fearful of certain things and even kickstarting our hopes and dreams for love; these stories have shaped so much of how we see the world.
Of course, these teachings have a half-life. We grow up believing in magic, wonder and love; Only to have the rug pulled out from under us, when we are older. The rich prince charming that you swoon over on Instagram may seem like your forever person, until you work up the courage to reach out, only to get an auto response back that says “If you want to see more, click this link.” Your lovesick, fairy-tale-sculpted heart still wants to believe that this is just how he has to communicate with you, so you click it. Within seconds, your computer screen is covered in pictures of Dachshunds (Dock-sunds) wearing lingerie, while the police are knocking on your door with an anonymous tip of a weirdo living in your house.
By the time we reach our mid-twenties, the belief in such fables has completely left us. What was once an open and loving heart has become cold, dismissive and skeptical. Not only do we begin to see the realities of the world we inhabit, but we’re now viewing everything with a suspicious eye.
“What else have we been told is actually a lie?” We begin to tell ourselves, until something as simple as a cashier telling us to have a nice day, instantly ruins our day. “There’s no way she means that,” the voice in your head explains. You begin to live a life where everything is an assumed deception.
It’s not all that bad to live life with a sense of astonishment. To suspend disbelief long enough to find enjoyment in the seemingly impossible. A lot of people do just fine in life, just choosing to believe that there’s still so much magic in the world. These people are the light that shines a path through an otherwise dark world.
But even if you choose to trust in these myths, there are still things you must be careful of. Afterall, Jack’s beanstalk led to a blood-thirsty giant, Dorothy found the Wizard of Oz to be a man behind a curtain and Belle eventually found out the truth about The Beast. Some skepticism can be safe.
This listener story that I am about to share is about one of these very bright lights in the world. Believing in fairy tales, she lives in a reality that I can’t even believe to understand.. Which is why I have found myself to be the perfect person to tell her story.
Kamryn was a nineteen year old girl, just trying to make it through this crazy world. Without a car, no longer living at home and living on the wages of a nineteen year old, there weren't a lot of options for living situations. But being a survivor at heart, she found a way to make due.
Kamryn had been living with Meah. Meah was a not-so-friendly option, but she really checked all of her boxes. Kamryn was able to bring her pets with her and Meah would drop her off at work, on her way to her respective job.
In exchange for this arrangement, Kamryn was expected to pay half of the rent and buy groceries for the two of them. Yes, it was only a one bedroom apartment, and Kamryn’s bedroom was technically a large walk-in closet, but again… Not a lot of options.
It wasn’t the most comfortable place to live. There would be the occasional back soreness from sleeping in the closet weird, but Kamryn made due. The major issue here was Meah’s problematic attitude.
Meah was one of those toxic people that you couldn’t spend too much time with. She would tell you one thing, and then get mad when you reminded her that she said it, usually stating “I didn’t say that.” She was constantly leaving old dirty dishes in the common areas and was just a general mess.
As is the case with most people like this, Meah lacked a certain self-awareness and did not take responsibility for her actions. But unlike those others, she had a special quirk about the way she handled this.
Throughout their time together, anytime something wouldn’t work out for Meah, she would blame all of her problems… On Gnomes.
Late bills, broken appliances, failed relationships… All gnomes.
At first, Kamryn thought this was more of a joke. It started as a passive response to a tiny little mistake, but would eventually lead to full on crying fits and terror, because these little creatures kept singling her out, behind the scenes.
It was as if these tiny little bearded beings would exist only in the shadows, planning ways to sabotage Meah’s life.
After Kamryn had seen enough of these situations play out, she was convinced. Meah really did believe that gnomes walked amongst them.
But how? What would lead a fellow nineteen-year-old to still believe in fairy tale creatures? After she was convinced, without a reasonable doubt, she asked her.
Meah began to tell the story about how her uncle was a great wizard who casted many spells and saved many lives. He went on countless grand adventures, and changed the world as we know it. But unfortunately, there was a darkness looming around every good deed that her uncle fulfilled.
The army of the gnomes was always a step behind him, trying to ruin his progress. It was a war that had gone on long before Meah was born, and even though her uncle is no longer a practicing wizard, her family is cursed with the rogue gnomes finding ways to destroy the lives of everyone in his lineage.
After Meah had finished telling the complete saga of her uncle’s quests, Kamryn just sat there with her mouth open. She only had one question left to ask. “How do you know all of this?” Kamryn asked.
Without hesitation, Meah perked up and said “My uncle told me, of course.”
Kamryn went on, still feeling like maybe this is a weird practical joke. There’s no way that someone believed this, right?
But as time went on, Meah and Kamryn’s relationship began to sour. Meah would be too particular about the ways Kamryn did things, and would eventually quit picking up after herself altogether. As Kamryn was the roommate to Meah’s one bedroom apartment, Meah felt it was more than fair to make her do all of the cleaning.
And it continued this way. Meah would continue leaving old dirty plates on top of other old dirty plates, she left trash surrounding the trash can and stopped rinsing pans after cooking. The place had become a dump. This is mainly because Kamryn had also gone on a silent strike of her own. She figured that if she only picked up after herself, Meah would eventually notice that she was adding to her own messes.
Unfortunately, there was one vital piece to Kamryn’s plan, that she was not accounting for… Meah’s complete lack of self-awareness.
“Ugh, Don’t you think this place needs to be cleaned?” Meah said, in her bitchiest tone. This was Kamryn’s breaking point. She did not wake up every morning, ignoring the same pepperoni pizza slice on the toaster, FOR A WEEK, just to have the person who left it there ask her to clean it up.
Kamryn’s heart had turned blacker than the mold on the back of the stove, and three times as deadly. She tried to open her mouth, to give a simple and short response, but the second she spoke, she couldn’t stop.
Insults and exclamations were hurled from her mouth, in rapid succession. Months of resentment finally found its release. By the time it was all said and done, Meah had grabbed her car keys and left for work.
As it was part of the two roommate’s arrangement, Meah was supposed to take Kamryn with her. But in her petty act of defiance, she left Kamryn at home, needing to find her own way to work.
Just when Kamryn thought she had hit her peak of anger, she found a new level once left alone.
Screaming and stomping through the apartment, Kamryn became a full on vandal. She swept everything on the countertops to the floor, kicked the trashcan over and even threw glass into the bathtub, leaving broken shards all over.
She hailed herself an uber, and on her way out the door, cracked the door slightly so she could lock the apartment’s chain behind her. “Good luck getting into your stupid apartment now,” Kamryn said to herself.
She went on to have a normal day at work. The work day was so ordinary that she had completely forgotten about what had transpired earlier that day. It wasn’t until after her shift, when her 2nd Uber dropped her off, that she noticed the lights were on in the apartment.
“Oh yeah,” Kamryn said to herself, “I vandalized the apartment.”
Walking up the stairs, Kamryn pepped herself up. Meah had made her way back into the apartment, so she knew it was time to get back into ‘Fight Mode.’
Kamryn took one deep breath and tensed up her body. She turned the doorknob slowly and opened the door. As she slowly began to see more into the apartment, there sat Meah with tears in her eyes.
They immediately made eye contact, as Meah jumped up and ran to Kamryn. “Oh my God!” Meah cried out. “The gnomes were at it again!” Meah wrapped her arms around Kamryn, trying to find comfort in her roommate.
“When I came home, the apartment was chained from the inside. I tried to do it myself, but couldn’t. It had to have been the gnomes!” Meah explained. Kamryn kept her guard up, but went along with the story. It seemed that all of the heat for her act of vandalism had completely dissipated.
The two went on as roommates for a bit longer, until Kamryn eventually found a new place to live. Throughout that time, Meah never alluded to even being remotely suspicious that she had caused the destruction. But after all of Kamryn’s stuff had been moved out of the apartment, she went to Walmart and bought a gnome statue to leave behind.
The story of Meah and the gnomes is a tale as old as time. A crime as old as rhyme. As this was in 2019, there’s no telling on if Meah still believes in the existence of gnomes, or not. We don’t know if she eventually figured the truth out and we never found anymore out about the wizarding world of Meah’s uncle.
But if this story has left you feeling like maybe you live in a fairy tale world, put on your ruby red slippers, and click your heels together three times while saying “There's GNOME place like home” and you'll be there.
ORIGINAL STORY/MESSAGE FROM KAMRYN
So in 2019, i was living with an extremely....problematic roommate. We'll call her Meah. She was the type of person who always messed with my belongings and was generally an awful person. We lived in a 1 bedroom apartment. The two of us would constantly butt heads over my boundaries. She was also my only ride to work.
Meah also had this strange tendency to blame all of her life's problems on gnomes, no matter how big or small the problem was. Even simple things like the general mess in the apartment was blamed on gnomes.
In this living arrangement, i paid half of rent and bought groceries in exchange for sleeping space in a walk in closet. I cleaned up after any mess me or my pets made.
One day, the two of us got in an argument over the state of the apartment, it was a DUMP. She never cleaned up after herself and expected me to clean the whole apartment, pay rent, and buy groceries. My 19 year old self thought this was extremely unfair. Because of the fight, she refused to drop me off at work on her way to work, so she left without me. In somewhat of a rage at this, i made the apartment even more of a mess. I broke some glass in the bathtub, threw some stuff on the floor, and just generally vandalized the apartment. I paid for an Uber to work and left the apartment, but i locked the chain lock on the door on my way out, doing so by shoving my hand through the crack in the door and latching the chain before pulling the door shut.
I then went on my way to work, not really thinking about it the rest of the day. I thought this was justified, in kind of a "this will show her" type attitude. I came home around midnight from work to Meah already home. I was expecting to be in another fight over the mess i made in the apartment, but to my surprise, she was not angry. She immediately ran to me and in an extremely nonchalant way, told me the gnomes were at it again! She believed this because of me locking the chain behind me, saying there was No Way In Hell that anybody could lock the chain from outside the door. She then demonstrated how she could not lock the chain from outside.
Not wanting to out my little crime to her, i simply agreed. "It must have been the gnomes! That's craaaaazyyyy!" She firmly believed that it was the gnomes. My 19 year old self felt like i had gotten away with a heist! I couldn't believe that she didn't immediately know it was me.
I soon moved away from Meah, but i made sure to leave behind a ceramic gnome i had gotten from Walmart. To the extent of my knowledge, she still does believe that was all over the gnomes.
(The wizard information was given in a later message)
To hear the full story, with sound effects, check out Episode 57 of Seriously Sinister: Woman on Woman Crimes.