Have You Seen Me?
The Great Gnome Abduction
I adopted my first garden gnome as a bit of an homage to Peter Jackson's third film "Dead Alive" (or "Braindead" outside of the US). The garden gnome plays an integral role in dispensing with the undead in Jackson's genre-toppling masterpiece. Indeed, there will never be a better zombie film. Period. But that's another story.
This story, a tale of three pint-sized companions, is a dramatic roller-coaster, a thriller, a twisted tale of horror and kidnapping — of peaceful, unassuming garden gnomes, torn from their homes without warning in a spiteful act of emotional violence.
My first gnome, who lived inside my apartment for a couple of years, merrily moved from place to place, was well fed, well watered and deeply loved. After I bought a house, the gnome family grew. Until last Thursday afternoon, soon after the local school let out, there were ten gnomes living out a joyous existence in my front yard. An enviable lot in life, really. We have old mature palm and eucalyptus trees — even a Chinese Flame Tree, and plenty of garden space and planter boxes. There's a front porch where we can all sit as one happy family, as we often do, and watch the seasons pass by. It's quite lovely; an idyllic environment for a gnome of any stature.
Then came Thursday, the dark day of the Great Gnome Abduction. Three little fellows were kidnapped from the yard: the one who loved to read his book under the Chinese Flame Tree; the snail-rider gnome and one of a pair with shovels, turning the soil next to a withering sapling. Oh, the callousness of splitting up the twins....
We suspect neighborhood kids, though no ransom has been demanded and there is no sign of the little guys anywhere. Still, probably kids, developing into full-grown gnome-violaters. It's a gateway crime, I think.
They start with gnomes, then what? Soon they'll be looking twice at babies in the park, scoping the pound for the cutest puppies, "browsing" pet stores for the cuddliest kittens — all with malicious intent, no doubt, to chop them, to puree them perhaps, maybe make a stew or a hate-filled casserole — worse yet, maybe a quiche. These are a bad element to be sure.
Or maybe it was a gang persuaded by the rhetoric of freeTheGnomes.com? Maybe even you, gentle reader, have heard of their professed quest to liberate the oppressed gnomes of the world, and their call to action, supposedly on behalf of the exploited little gardeners.
What these purveyors of abduction fail to understand is that adopters like me are running something akin to gnome-rescue shelters. Without intervention, these misunderstood creatures are traded in big-box, pseudo-agricultural markets — like Wal-Mart and Target Garden Center. I do not disagree with the Gnome Liberation Front that these institutions are tantamount to slave traders. However, I diverge when they suggest that gnome purchasers necessarily consider themselves owners of those whom they can afford to Spring from the prison-like conditions under which they are held captive.
Gnome purchasers, like me, are really the liberators. The gnomes who live in my front yard are not constrained. They are free to wander, they are free to plant and work the land as they choose. The GLF will have you believe that gnomes dislike gardening — not true at all! Look at their obvious expressions of contentment; look at the tools that they usually clasp in their tiny hands; they are not tethered to the land. Their lifestyle is clearly a choice.
Furthermore, there are those who choose other vocations, such as the academic gnome pictured here. I emphasize that the gnomes who live at my house are free to make their own lifestyle choices and can come and go at their leisure. This is the important point: they are not bound, they are not discouraged from leaving, they are not punished if they do. The simple fact is that they seek to live a comfortable lifestyle and stick with it when they find one.
Perhaps, you might think, the missing gnomes have simply wandered off for a while in pursuit of a new lifestyle. The evidence at the crime scene points to an alternate explanation: the splitting up of the twins, for example, speaks volumes. Also, there were no gnome tracks leading away from where they were last seen, but plenty of big-people tracks. This suggests abduction, a crime against gnom-anity.
On the topic: there has been a spate of missing dog posters plastered up in the neighborhood. Recently, at least four dogs have gone on holiday ... or have they?? It is possible, and even likely, that the gnome kidnappers are responsible. Perhaps this is backlash to or inspiration from hostile kidnappings in Iraq? Perhaps the worst is yet to come for the puppies and gnomes. Perhaps this is the start of a gnom-adic Jihad?
Whatever the case may be, there is clearly a big problem and it's getting worse. So this is a plea to the local gnome kidnappers and to kidnappers everywhere: in these globally-troubled times, do what you can to spread joy, rather than fear and sadness inherited from extreme and unreasonable political-religious philosophies. Do what you can to leave the neighborhood and the world a little bit brighter than when you walked by earlier this morning. Is it so much to ask:
Please just bring them all back safely.
© 2004 Sorrell