This week, two individuals became the focus of global celebration following an unlikely and joyous confluence of circumstances.
The viral story went that two elderly men escaped their care facility to attend a metal festival in northern Germany (or, as one headline put it: "Elderly Men Escape Retirement Home to Go RAGE!!").
Except they weren't, and they didn't.
The two men, as it turns out, are 58 and 59 years old and had escaped "a home for people with mental health issues," according to the Associated Press, before traveling to Wacken, a city roughly 50 miles north of Hamburg. They arrived there at the same time that the Wacken Open Air music festival — referred to as the world's largest for metal — was happening.
The miscommunication isn't hard to understand — in a story from Aug. 4 by German broadcaster NDR, a police spokesperson was quoted as saying that the pair "had obviously liked the metal festival," going on to say that they "seemed disoriented and apathetic" at the bus stop where they were eventually found.
However, on Aug. 6 police issued a contradictory follow-up, explaining that the men were mentally ill and had traveled to the town simply to have some drinks and were not at the festival. According to a follow-up story from NDR, are under "legal supervision."
These days, a story that offers any sort of reprieve from the unrelenting crush of the news cycle — say, two elderly metal fans escaping a care facility and traveling, buddy-movie style, to a music festival to enjoy themselves — is lapped up like a puddle in the desert. Here, instead, we have a repast of crow and a cautionary tale.