So guess what we heard — this morning — in Commons. Did you know that Katie Rockman ’06 now has a boyfriend? We didn’t — which is weird — because she is part of We. And, last time we checked (which, to be pathetically honest, is QUITE frequently) neither of us could claim a significant lover. Daaaaamn. But, since any publicity is good publicity, we decided to hold our tongues, and see just where this new romance was headed. At least somebody’s getting some — well, not really, but you know.

Here were the “facts” as we ascertained them: (1) Katie had a boyfriend, (2) he was a stud (she wouldn’t have it any other way), and (3) he was on the soccer team. All right, not bad.

Still, WHAT was going on? We left Commons somewhat confused, as questions — good ones — came to mind. For instance, where did said boyfriend and girlfriend meet? Or, being that it’s only the second week of school, how did things get so serious so quickly? Whatever happened to good old hooking up? Friends with benefits, no? Talk about jumping the gun. Slow down, Katie.

But the thing was, it had absolutely, positively nothing to do with Katie, or said boyfriend, or the many innocent bystanders caught up in the romantic intrigue. Indeed, a rumor is bigger than any one person, or group of persons. And once released, it dazzles, grows, and even does somersaults. Some might say it ruins lives. We like to say it improves them. But what, pray tell, is the scientific process — one might even say the evolution — behind the life of a rumor? As inquisitive, studious, HOT Yale students, we felt a responsibility to search out the truth: the truth behind the lies. The challenge was not an easy one, but we were game. Hey, when are we not?

When it comes to the Yale rumor mill, this piece of inaccurate gossip slides comfortably above simple miscommunication and below the tall-tales destined to join the whispers of campus legends. So we decided to cut this juicy mid-level rumor down to size — that is to say, baby steps. Though simple, our procedure was a reliable model for scientific analysis: telephone, the game. You know, everyone sits in a circle and the message travels from one ear to the next. Before you know it, “the cat is black” has transformed into “Dude, do you think Julie will make out with me?” Do you hear the similarity? We’re not so sure we do.

“Rumors start pretty fast around here,” Karen Chen ’07 said. “I guess like in any college scene there’s always going to people gossiping about people they know in class or who and who got together.”

Or maybe we just can’t help rebelling against a motto as self-grandizing like “Lux et Veritas.” Like many Yalies, Chen said she and a friend fell for a bit of celebrity gossip last spring that spread all over campus.

“A few friends of mine and I were convinced that Keira Knightley was going to be here, and that we’d be her big sibs,” Chen said. “We thought that if Keira Knightley came here, she’d probably be in TD.”

A similar rumor about Mischa Barton circulated at the same time, corroborated by reliable Internet stories that friends’ friends had read. And as soon as the juicy seeds of gossip are planted, student gullibility fertilizes the rumor, until the full-fledged rumor sprouts and blossoms, a rootless marvel of the plant world. Below, we have reproduced our findings for your reading pleasure. A brief side-note: though we know rumors, at times, are nothing more than your basic jerk spreading your basic lie, most rumors hold a little truth at their core. And come on — you know those are the best kind to spread.

Whisper One: “Hey guys, I think is a total hunk.” (Giggles follow.)

Truth: Okay, yeah, that’s pretty much the truth. No harm, no foul — just a couple gals gabbing about the cutie in the dining hall.

Whisper Two: As we walk to class the next day, we turn to each other (as “total hunk” approaches), “Hey Katie, there goes your boyfriend.” (Again, giggles follow.)

Here is where things start to go awry. Truth: Katie knows that this man is — in no way, shape, or form — her boyfriend. Daphne knows this too. We are crazy, yes, but not delusional. It was simply a sarcastic, playful comment meant to cause Katie some harmless embarrassment.

However, dangerous factors, variables if you will, have entered into the equation. Namely: a very public setting, filled with gossip-hungry Yalies heading to some MCDB seminar. The culprit could be any one of these wide-eared passersby. It’s all in the timing. For whoever happened to be walking past us as the aforementioned comment was uttered would have surely heard the mention of “boyfriend,” and would have just as surely seen said hunk strolling by. Anyone at Yale can put two and two together. And really, who could blame them? We would spread that rumor — in a second.

Whisper Three: “Guess what I heard today, guys. Katie Rockman and are sooo a couple — like boyfriend-girlfriend. No, I’m not lying. I heard her roommate talking about it today. I think it’s pretty serious.”

Truth: Hmmmm, though she did hear said roommate talking about said boy — and even though said girlfriend was, in fact, present — NONE of that is at all true. And there you have your rumor. Simple as that.

But does truth matter if the rumor is nice?

“I don’t feel like there are a lot of rumors here,” Emma Barber ’06 said. “I feel like people know a lot of things about each other, but for the most part I haven’t experienced that many vicious rumors”

That’s good enough for us.

And, by the end of the day, someone somewhere who knows nothing about anyone involved will undoubtedly mention the following (so as to sound cool and with-it to his/her Chem Lab partner): “So I heard there’s this girl and she’s going out with this guy. Did YOU know that?”

Whisper Four brings us back to the start: Commons early morning feed. Luckily, with this rumor, no one got hurt. All parties innocent, all information entertaining — a fleeting romance that was over well before it started. But alas, young love can’t last forever — fact or fiction, real or imagined. Something’s got to keep things interesting around here. And if reality just isn’t cutting it, we say make it up, and make it good.

Best of all, you don’t even have to be Yale to get it started.

“I think that things do travel pretty quickly,” Bri Sherer ’06 said. “You don’t even have to be at school; I heard about things over the summer even before I got here.”

— Staff reporter Jennifer Sabin contributed to this story.

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