Top Gnome Studies academic gives us his knee-high view


I conducted a telephone interview with Dr. Willem Gelding, professor emeritus of anthropology at Dakota Central University. Dr. Gelding is an expert in the field of gnome research and has authored a book, “Gnomes Around Us.” He travels the globe tracking these elusive and sometimes dangerous creatures. I was fortunate to catch Dr. Gelding in his office, and he generously granted me a few minutes of his time. Here are excerpts from that interview:

ME: “Good afternoon, Dr. Gelding … or I guess it’s still morning in your time zone. Thank you for taking my call.”

GELDING: “All I can say is that this better be important.”

ME: “Tell me a little about your work. I know you didn’t start out studying gnomes. Your anthropological studies covered other societies earlier in your career, isn’t that right?”

GELDING: “Yes, I lived among the Utfrat, an exiled tribe of throwbacks living in two-story mobile homes around Austin, Texas, but had to abandon my research there when they grew too drunk and disorderly for any meaningful interaction or data-gathering. Also, they smelled REALLY bad.”

ME: “So how did you get into gnomes?”

GELDING: “I figured that since they were small, my chances of not being overpowered were good.”

ME: “There’s no nice way to put this, so I’ll just blurt it out.  A lot of people don’t believe gnomes exist. I mean real gnomes, not the garden statues. You must meet a lot of people who think you’re some kind of crackpot, but you really take this very seriously, don’t you? How do you cope with the knowledge that no matter what you say, a lot of people are predisposed not to believe you?”

“The trick is to pay attention to your peripheral vision — that’s where they show up. And once you’ve locked eyes with them, they’re compelled to interact with you. But be warned: They are duplicitous and deceitful. Also, they bite, and I have the ankle scars to prove it.”

GELDING: “My primary attitude toward naysayers is that they may have a point, but if they wear the right kind of cap no one will notice. I ignore them. I have no doubt that gnomes exist, because I’ve seen them. The trick is to pay attention to your peripheral vision — that’s where they show up. And once you’ve locked eyes with them, they’re compelled to interact with you. But be warned: They are duplicitous and deceitful. Also, they bite, and I have the ankle scars to prove it.”

ME: “Well that certainly sounds convincing … and painful! Let’s talk about the garden statues for a minute. Everybody’s seen them, lots of people own one, but are the caricatures — the beard, the red pointy hat — accurate at all? I mean, usually where there’s smoke, there’s fire, so I’m just supposing that people who draw gnomes and sculpt them are basing their art on something. Do real gnomes actually have pointy red hats and beards? How big is a real gnome?”

GELDING: “The pointy hats and beards are traditional dress among the Gnomen, as they refer to themselves. But here in America, I’m beginning to encounter younger gnomes who — much like Amish teens on Rumspringa — will wear other styles of clothing just as an act of coming-of-age rebellion. Their heads are actually somewhat pointed, though, so the flat caps and ball caps they’d like to wear don’t fit well. They tend to outgrow that silliness fairly quickly and return to their usual outfits, although some have permanently given up their clog footwear for athletic shoes. Keep in mind that, due to their small stature, they have to make most of their own clothing. The more modern shoes tend to be, um, appropriated from dolls they find on nighttime expeditions into people’s homes.”

ME: “There’s a video on YouTube of some youths in Argentina who claim to have filmed a gnome. I guess you could say it’s sort of the Zapruder film of gnome research. I know you visited Argentina shortly after the film was released. Did you find the people who took the video, and more importantly, did you find more evidence of gnome activities in Argentina?”

GELDING: “I did go down there, but could find only one of the teenagers from the video group and he claimed not to remember much. Between you and me, I think he was still scared witless from the experience. I was puzzled at first by the claim that the gnome was walking sideways, and there were no footprints to back that up. In my experience, that isn’t their usual mode of perambulation. The only ones I’ve met who walked that way were drunk. Their booze of choice, by the way, is elderberry wine. Terrible stuff, or at least the few sips I tried were so bad I could barely keep from spitting it out.”

ME: “I was actually surprised to see a video like that coming out of Argentina, of all places! When I think of gnomes, I always assumed they originated in Europe. How widespread are gnomes in the world? Is there some real hotbed of gnome activity?”

GELDING: “My theory is that the one caught on video must’ve stowed away on a GNOME CHART JPGfreighter from Europe or the U.S. and ended up there by happenstance. That province, Salta, is a long way from where the Gnomen are usually found. They did originate in Europe, and are distantly related to trolls — the real ones, not the online haters — but over the millennia have migrated into Scandinavia, the UK (but not Ireland, on which the leprechauns have kept an iron grip), and North America. I have heard of, but not confirmed, sightings in South Asia and parts of sub-Saharan Africa.”

ME: “Are they dangerous at all? I’ve heard that if you have a gnome statue in your yard, it increases the likelihood that you’ll be visited by real gnomes. Is that true, or is that an old wives’ tale?”

GELDING: “The yard gnomes tend to irritate the Gnomen, who generally find them disrespectful, especially if they’re embellished with U.S. college or athletic insignia. For some reason, the sight of a gnome dressed in a Red Sox jersey really riles them up. Most of those don’t last more than a night or two. As for them being dangerous, well, it depends. Taken in small (no pun intended) groups of two or three, they’re pretty harmless. Should you be unfortunate enough to find yourself out alone at night and surrounded by a kracken of gnomes (that’s the collective noun for them), though, tread carefully.”

ME:  “Last question, and it’s a two-parter. For people who want to see a real gnome, what things can they do to improve the odds? And if you do come face-to-face with a live gnome, what should you do?”

GELDING: “As I mentioned before, peripheral vision is the key to seeing a gnome, so try to keep that in mind when you’re in an area known or rumored to be populated or frequented by them. They’re drawn to banjo music, so if you count bluegrass picking among your talents it might help. Try not to interact with large numbers of them, as something about the kracken group psychology tends to bring out their innate aggressiveness. As for coming ‘face-to-face with a live gnome,’ that’s unlikely unless you’re on your hands and knees. Most sightings, however, do occur when the respondent has overindulged in alcohol. And sadly, many of those encounters end badly, as drunkenness often reduces your reaction time and ability to run. If you come across one or a few gnomes, and they don’t race away or toss their Hellebarde (a type of battle-axe resembling those little plastic swords you sometimes find in a tropical drink) at you, do your best to remain calm, stay upright, and keep the conversation to safe topics like goldfish (one of their favorite dishes), mushrooms and shrews (their preferred household pet). Do NOT let them steer the conversation to anything to do with Boston, especially the Red Sox, and if the subject of pygmies somehow comes up, just drop everything and run. They’re fast, but their stride is limited so you should be able to outdistance them fairly quickly. Just don’t look back. Those Hellebarde can smart if they hit just right.”

ME: “Thank you, Dr. Gelding, and have a good day.”

And thank you, reader, for again turning to my blog. Not only am I just plain crazy, but I’m also crazy for clicks, referrals and followers, so if you’re not already following my blog, please to so by utilizing one of the clickably convenient tools located in the top right margin.  See you next time!


Add yours →

  1. I’m going to have nightmares after watching that video!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I dont believe in gnomes but that figure in the video sure looked like a bigfoot to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know, Leeann, the figure in the video definitely looked like it was wearing a pointed hat to me, and I’ve never heard of a squatch wearing a hat. But maybe you’re right, and maybe it’s something Dr. Gelding will want to look into!


  3. I have also met many gnomes. Their stories can be found in my books: The Great and the Small, A Trick of the Light, and The Time of the Rains (making The Gnome Trilogy) and Flittermouse: The Adventures of Bron Blackthorn. The books can be found on Amazon. We have some points of disagreement on the subject.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: