"If you go around pretending Dr. Watson wrote the stories and not Conan Doyle," they would say, "people are going to believe you. People are going to start thinking Holmes and Watson were real and that Conan Doyle was just a literary agent."
Whether or not they actually believed that, or were just making whatever argument they could to promote the cause of Doylean scholarship over Watsonian, I was never sure. But fast forward ahead to the year 2017.
We now have people who believe that man never walked on the moon. That death camps didn't exist. That the world is only five thousand years old. That . . . well, at some point you have to start treading lightly because right now, in 2017, all sorts of people are believing all sorts of nonsense.
And yet, we don't seem to find a lot of people . . . or any, that I've seen . . . who truly believe that John H. Watson wrote the Sherlockian Canon. Nobody is changing the name on the spines of the Sherlock Holmes books at Barnes & Noble to read "by John H. Watson, M.D." No fringe cults of diehard "Watson wrote it!" extremists have even popped up.
Which is simply amazing when you look at all the aforementioned nonsense people do claim to believe. Obvious fictions cited as fact. NASA needing to put out a statement that there are, indeed, no child slave labor camps on Mars. A CEO of a car company opining that reality as we know it is a virtual reality simulation designed by an advanced race. Perhaps humanity was always cherishing such little myths on a person-by-person basis, only now exposed by our new interconnectedness, but believed fictions seem to be much more in-your-face every with each passing day.
And yet, John Watson just hasn't become history yet.
Perhaps it's television, where John is John in England and Joan in America. Perhaps it's the sheer mass of books with Doyle's name on the cover. Or perhaps . . . just perhaps . . . Sherlockians, in all their nerdish glory, were never as silly or as foolish as the more judgmental among us might have thought. Oh, we have our crazies, yes, we do. And they might commit to a joke far past the point where it ceases to be funny on occasion. But even they aren't THAT crazy.
Our time spent with one foot in each world, that of fiction and that of fact, has taught us quite well where that line is. Sherlockians might actually be better equipped to deal with our current state that your average citizen.
Now if the rest of the world would just get on the Sherlockian bandwagon and become a little more fact-versus-fiction aware.