Not so long ago, I embarked on a quest to find the person who had invented the fabled "circle game", the game in which you draw people's eyes to a circle made by your thumb and forefinger so as to be allowed to hit them in the arm. After a few searches through deleted Wikipedia entries I thought I'd found my man, a certain Matt Nelson, a bowling alley manager from Ohio. I managed to get a phone number for Matt and I called to check whether he was indeed the invetor. He told me he was. Against all odds, I had traced a piece of human history back to its genesis. I swelled with pride and accepted many pats on the back from colleagues and well-wishers alike.
But after the article was published, and word began to spread, something started to happen. The people read it, and the people were not happy.
The story became more and more convoluted - various dates, various uncles in various places. This guy says it's not even called the circle game, it's called the "Geeb Game", whatever that means.
I became the living embodiment of that SpongeBob SquarePants meme. Not the one where he pretends to be a chicken, the other one, the one where Mr Krabs is spinning out, realising he's in desperate trouble, the world melting around him. How could I have been so stupid?
There was still a blind hope living inside me that it was true, that Matt Nelson did invent the circle game, that everyone else was lying. But as they say, it's the hope that kills you. A few hours after I was attacked on Twitter by truthfinder generals, Matt Nelson sent me an email. It wasn't good.
Why, Matt? Why? You sold me a dream called the circle game and now that dream is melting in my hands, like a beautiful, ornate sandcastle pummelled by a vicious wave. I strain my neck and scream to the sky, "damn you to hell Matt Nelson".
Really, it was stupid of me to ever believe that I could find the person who created this. It's more than likely that this game does not have one single creator, like the wheel or paper or anxiety. That's the fun thing about these folkloric things, they just kind of appear out of nowhere and then exist forever. Who invented the word "nang", or that S we drew in school? Probably a bunch of people - most likely they were born out of the same invention happening at the same time.
I don't blame Matt for lying to me. If you're from some nowhere place in middle America, where even the wind and rain passes by uninterested, you want fame to hit at least once. You want to be remembered in the annals of time, your face on a grain of sand in the great hourglass of life. You want history to make purposeful your ultimately silly existence. I respect that. I admire that.
But god damn Matt Nelson, you've really made me look like a fucking dickhead here. I'd better call Snopes and tell them not to bother with this one. Thanks a lot, Matt. Christ.
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