Does the flu shot make you sick? Was Mr. Ed a zebra? Snopes knows the answers!

Yesterday, I ventured into the CVS Minute Clinic to get a flu shot. While I won’t bore you with the specifics (like how it never actually takes a minute and I always feel like the other people sitting there waiting are riddled with diseases that they’re just dying to spread to me), it was overall a relatively painless procedure.

What wasn’t painless, however, was TELLING people that I was going to get a flu shot after school.

Because it seems that 99.9999 percent of the population still thinks that you get the flu when you get a flu shot. And trying to tell the flu shot disparagers that that’s an urban legend is pointless. Because they all either think it happened to them or they think it happened to someone they know.

It didn’t.

That theory doesn’t even make sense. By that logic, when you get the smallpox vaccine, you’d get smallpox. And smallpox has been eradicated. (For the vocabulary-challenged people out there, that means smallpox has gone bye-bye. Forever.)

But telling people that the flu shot doesn’t give you the flu is an utterly lost cause. So instead, I direct them to one of my two favorite websites in the world: http://www.snopes.com/.

Snopes is the urban legend website, and it is truly one of the best things that the internet has brought us (primarily because I firmly believe that Facebook and Twitter are ruining the world, but I’ll talk about that another day).

I could literally spend days on Snopes. It has everything under the sun on there and is WAY more reliable than Wikipedia (because I can’t edit it to say that I’m married to Bruce Springsteen like I can on Wikipedia… which I do once a year to show my journalism kids that you can’t trust Wikipedia. Sorry, Patti. I DO always change it back immediately though. And I only vandalize Wikipedia for educational purposes!)

Get a sappy email about a kid with cancer who needs your help? Look it up on Snopes. It’s fake. Get one warning you about gang members killing people who flash their brights on the highway? Fake. Snopes says so. Alligators in the sewers? Nope. Never happened. Find a picture of a ridiculously giant catfish that you KNOW is photoshopped?

Guess what? It’s REAL! It just wasn’t found where the email says it was. But literally. That fish IS that big. Scary stuff! (Although after seeing that picture, no one is ever going to doubt that guy’s penis size. Just saying…)

I use Snopes constantly to prove people wrong. Mostly because I have a horrible habit of not letting something go when I know I’m right. (What can I say? I hate ignorance. It’s probably why I’m a teacher.) It’s how I tried to prove to my brother that Walt Disney is NOT actually cryogenically frozen (although he still doesn’t believe me. Apparently there’s no amount of proof on the planet that will convince him that Walt Disney’s head isn’t in a freezer somewhere).

But I think my favorite thing about Snopes isn’t the fact that it lets me show off my superior knowledge and research skills every time my grandma sends me an email warning me about something that happened to a friend of a friend of a friend of hers that I desperately NEED to watch out for.

My favorite thing is the “Lost Legends” section. If you haven’t played on this site, go check that part out before you read further. I’ll wait.

Seriously. Go look at the Mr. Ed one. Did you know he was actually a zebra?

I know, it sounds nuts. But Snopes has the inside scoop.  It had something to do with the early black and white filming process.

Don’t read further until you’ve looked at that.

Spoilers are coming.

You’ve been warned.

No, Mr. Ed wasn’t a zebra! How dumb do you feel if you believed that? I mean, come on, a zebra? REALLY?

But Sara, Snopes said it and you said they know everything! That’s not fair.

That’s the whole reason I love Snopes. All of the “Lost Legends” are fake. There’s a full explanation here, but the basic gist of it is that the creators of Snopes are trying to make the point that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Did you learn your lesson? I mean, Snopes is legit, but did you REALLY, even for a MINUTE, think that Mr. Ed was a zebra? Gullible much?

There is, however, one website that is better than Snopes. There are some that are ALMOST as good (like www.venganza.org/, which is the official website for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Love it!), but only ONE website is actually better.

Yes.

I’m talking about http://www.catsthatlooklikehitler.com/.

BEST. WEBSITE. EVER. EVER! (Yes, that one had to go in a bigger font. Just to make sure you understand the awesomeness of Cats That Look Like Hitler.)

First of all, the fact that anyone even came up with this site is genius. Second, look at the cats! They actually LOOK LIKE HITLER! Which helps to prove my theory that cats are evil, anti-Semitic, and out to destroy the world. But really, I could look at this site over and over and over again.

But this site actually proves something that even Snopes couldn’t disprove (because it turns out to be true). Cats are wrong. Hitler is wrong. But when you combine those two particular wrongs, they create something SO right.

Because no matter how much I hate cats, I just can’t hate them when they look like Hitler. And they do. A lot.

Catsthatlooklikehitler.com = genius. Pure and simple. If you’re the person who created it, call me. I think we should be friends. Partially because I have a dog that looks like Einstein. But mostly because your site is my favorite thing on the internet.

Well, okay, that’s not ENTIRELY true. It’s my favorite website.

My favorite thing on the internet is this video.

Cats That Look Like Hitler come in a close second though. And Snopes is third.

The word gullible isn’t in the dictionary. Don’t believe me? Look it up!

I think the best part of being a teacher is that I get to take kids who were never that into writing as an art form and show them how exciting language can be.

Yes, I’m a nerd.

But as a writer, it’s really cool when I get to show kids the power that their words can have. Unfortunately, running the school newspaper, more often than not, they see that their words are powerful when we get in trouble over something asinine that someone has complained to the administration about. And while I hate that part of my job with a passion that rivals my hatred for the Cowboys, it’s still an opportunity for the kids to learn about the importance of writing.

One of my favorite moments every year is when the students who are new to the newspaper staff get to see their first byline in print. I still remember my first byline (an article in the December 1995 issue of the Rockville High School Rampage about the school band taking a trip to Florida), and I truly enjoy getting to share that moment with my students when they first see their work in the newspaper.

This year, I’ve had new opportunities to share writing with my students through the publication of my novel (Beyond the Palace, if you’ve been living under a rock and therefore STILL haven’t checked it out yet). I’ve talked about my writing for years, but getting to actually show them a hard copy of the book has had a significantly more impressive effect. And I’ve actually had several students tell me they have started writing books because they were inspired by the fact that I did it.

The other new opportunity has been in the form of this blog, which, if I’m being completely honest, is really just written in the same format of the columns that I teach my journalism students how to write. Of course, they whine about writing six or seven a year. I’m doing at least three a WEEK. Amateurs. But one of my students started his own blog this year too. But he gets like a couple of blog hits a day, and I’m getting around a hundred a day.  So he asked me to give him a shout-out in my blog to get him some more hits. And here it is. Go check out his blog.

And while we’re on the subject of Taylor, I should admit that I lied. Instilling students with a love of writing is the SECOND best part of my job. The best part is actually messing with the kids’ heads.

Which I do on a daily basis.

Don’t judge. I need SOMETHING to keep me sane until summer vacation.

And sometimes it’s just SO easy to mess with their heads. Because they’re gullible enough to believe everything I tell them.

In fact, they’re even gullible about the WORD gullible. One of my favorite tricks is to tell a kid (with a completely straight face, of course), that gullible isn’t in the dictionary. If they don’t believe me, I tell them to look it up. Which they do. Because they’re that gullible. And the worst part is that after they’ve fallen for that, I can STILL get them by telling them that someone wrote gullible on the ceiling—they ALL look up. Every time.

 By then, they no longer believe me, which means I have to get them again. I tell them that gullible is spelled with three l’s. They argue that they’re not that stupid and they’re not falling for my tricks again. And then I explain to them that it actually IS spelled with three l’s.

I have other favorite tricks too. For example, whenever anyone asks me if we have a test that day, I ALWAYS say yes. Unless we DO have a test, in which case I say no. And when they freak out about the unexpected test, I act irritated and ask why they hadn’t spent all week studying for it. Anything they ask me for, the answer is always no. Which I usually say before they even finish asking the question, just to see how hard they’ll argue.

“Can I go to the bathroom?”

“No.”

“Do you have a bandaid?”

“No.”

“Can I get a drink of water?”

“No.”

“I accidentally cut my arm off, can I go to the nurse?”

“No.”

 “A lion is attacking me! Help!”

“No.”

And so on.

My favorite thing to do, however, has to be personalized on an individual basis, depending on what the individual kids will get riled up about. Which is where Taylor comes in.

I was working on the newspaper at lunch with my editors one day, when another student made a comment saying that golf shouldn’t be in the sports section because it wasn’t a real sport. Now I normally defend everything in the sports section fairly emphatically (because I don’t want cheerleaders or poms having a grudge against me, and if it’s athletic, I think it belongs in the sports section), but Taylor started arguing that golf was, in fact, a sport. And he got kind of heated about it.

Which meant that I had to disagree with him. Not because I have a strong stance on golf (which I don’t. As one of the least athletic people on the planet, I don’t have any room to judge), but just because it amused me to see him try to argue that golf is a sport.

So for the last month, every time ANYONE has mentioned golf OR sports with Taylor in the room, I’ve turned to him and told him that if my 85-year-old grandfather plays it, it’s a game, not a sport.

But even though I know I’m driving him nuts, and even though golf isn’t a sport, TAYLOR is a good sport. So check out his blog. It’s about football, and it’s actually very well written. But do me a favor when you DO look at it: leave him a comment about how football may be a sport, but golf isn’t. The look on his face when he sees comments about that will be a great way to pay me back for all the entertainment I’ve given you with my blog.

It shouldn’t be hard to do. It’s not like leaving a comment is a sport or anything. Just like golf.

And right now, Taylor is reading this and saying, “Oh my God, golf IS a sport! Why is she doing this to me?”

The answer? Because I’m easily amused and you react. But if you don’t believe me, I hear they put your picture in the dictionary. Right next to the word gullible. Go ahead. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

Sometimes I DO love my job.