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suburban legends

Suburban legends

Summer is the time of urban legends. It seems it was always hot and muggy when we sat around and told these stories. Maybe we were hoping that a few shivers up and down our spines would cool us off.

I was a skeptic even then, and believed none of what I heard. The other kids would spread the stories like a virus and soon the whole town was talking about incidents that never happened as if they happened to them. What would start out as my best friend's sister telling us something she heard on the radio would come back to me later from a cousin who swore that it really happened to her neighbor's uncle. And it's amazing how many of these stories have survived all these years, almost unchanged. And how many of them were later made into major motion pictures starring screaming, underdressed girls.

The urban legends of my youth:

the hook man: One of the first babysitter stories I ever heard. You know the drill; a teenage girl is babysitting. Isn't that how they all start? In this one she is upstairs getting a baby ready for bed while the other two kids are downstairs watching tv. She hears one of the kids yelling something, and she thinks he is saying the phone is off the hook. She checks the upstairs phone but they are all fine. Too late, she realizes that the kid was screaming about a man with a hook and she turns to see some hideous guy standing in the doorway of the bedroom, a little girl's head lodged on the end of his hook hand.

out of gas: Two young lovers out for a joyride run out of gas on a deserted road. The girl stays in the car while the boy goes out in search of help. Soon the girl hears a noise outside that she assumes is branches of a tree moving against the top of the car. swish, swish, swish. The sound begins to annoy her so she gets out of the car to move the branch only to discover that the swishing sound was being made by her boyfriend's sneakers dragging across the roof of the car. He was hanging from the tree, a dead young man swaying in the breeze. variation

kidnapped: I still hear this one today, with variations on the theme. Everyone who tells this story insists it is really, really true and it happened just yesterday and they know a person who was there. A mother and her young daughter are shopping in a department store. The mother turns her back for a second and the kid disappears. She frantically runs through the store calling the girl's name and when she can't find her she alerts security. Security shuts all the doors and searches the store. They eventually find the poor, frightened girl with a strange man in the men's room. The girl's hair has been cut short and she has been dressed in boy's clothing. variation

the man in the car: Another one still making the rounds. A woman pulls into a gas station and asks the attendent to fill her car up. She pays with a credit card and the attendent tells her to please step out of the car, that there is a problem with her card. She argues with him until he persuades her to come into the office. There, he tells her that a man with a crowbar is crouched in the backseat of her car. variation

the hippie ate my baby! This was a favorite of mine. A couple goes out for a night on the town, leaving a teenage girl and her boyfriend in charge of their small children. They instruct the girl to cook a turkey for dinner. As soon as the couple leaves, the two teenagers begin smoking marijuana cigarettes! After they are good and stoned, they cook dinner, but forget about it and leave it in the oven. Eventually the couple comes home from their night out and smell something burning. They see the two hippie teenagers, obviously stoned, sleeping on the couch. And the turkey is still on the table, uncooked. What could possible be in the oven?? Oh no! It's the baby! variation

I could go on. There's the kid playing in a box that is picked up by garbagemen and put in a crusher. The pop rocks and soda thing. Bubble Yum is made from spider eggs. Oh, and that story that made the rounds when I was in junior high that had to do with Rod Stewart, Elton John, oral sex and stomach pumping.

I'm sure my kids will be telling me stories just like these as if they are the truth. And it will be my job, as it has always been, to dispel the myths and take the fun out of scary summer stories.

What's your favorite urban legend?

Comments

dude, we had david bowie and 4 litres of sperm...

do you have the one about the feral hippie who has a nest of poisonous spiders in his dreadlocks, and how he died as he was getting his hair cut for a job interview and the spiders attacked. Slacker myths!

The first time I heard this one it was told as happening to Jamie, a girl a year ahead of me in school. She is pretty reliable, and apparently I am gullible so I halfway believed it for about two days. Then I heard it again, only this time it had happened to so and so's niece who lives in Hollis. And then I knew even little old ladies hear urban legends.

A group of girls check into a hotel room in vegas. The room stinks to high heaven, but they can't figure out why. They complain and complain but mgmt can't figure it out either. Finally after a couple of days they find a dead hooker under the mattress in the well of the platform bed. THEY HAD BEEN SLEEPING ON TOP OF A DEAD BODY... the horror.

I also like the one where the girl cooks her insides in a tanning bed and dies on prom night because she wanted a tan.

Up here in Kanuckland, we tend to combine hookboy with the car on lovers lane, so it's either the hook tapping on the car or the boyfriend's fingernails after he has been properly disemboweled by hookboy.
And then there's one about biting into a Cherry Blossom and finding it was full of maggots - no, wait, that actually happened to my brother. Really.

ooh ooh! How about the one where the college-age girl was stuck on the side of the road with a flat/out of gas/overheated car and a really nice guy stops to help her. They get the problem corrected and she's so grateful and feels she must do something to repay him (I promise this is not a porno). He refuses everything, and finally she just gives him a check for $50 without the payee filled in.

A few weeks later she gets her bank statement with the check in it. It's made out to Ted Bundy.

Don't be such a skeptic.... these stories are all true. My neighbor's aunt's cousin's son told me so.

You know where I heard the hippy one first? From a Catholic teacher informing us children about the devil and drugs. She overreacted about the whole hippy/devil worship thing that right then and there, I knew it had to be grossly false. And having misspent my youth, I did some of my own "research" on that topic...

My favorite one came from my friend Brian. It's a variation of the dog in the microwave. Apparently, "his friend" put his kitten in the microwave. Only difference is, supposedly nothing really happened to the cat, it didn't explode, it just never grew, stayed kitten-size forever.

Oh, let's see....

There's the one about the girl who signed up for too many sessions on a tanning bed, and cooked her internal organs. I heard this one from a girl at school who swore up and down that it happened to a friend of her mom's, and any attempts to discount the story got her really agitated and upset, so we just let the matter drop.

My mom told me that in Chicago, gang members cruise the streets during early evening with their headlights off, and when some car blinks their lights as an indication that they should turn theirs on, the gang members turn around, follow the car to wherever it stops, and beat up or kill the occupants of the car. Been living in Chicago for 7 years, and haven't heard of one case of that happening yet.

And finally, there's the matter of the high school teacher who gave out quizzes, but liked to call them "quizzies." After a particularly difficult quizzie, one girl said without thinking, "If these are your quizzies, I'd hate to see your testies."

Richard Gere and a gerbil up his butt. It doesn't get much wackier.

i actually had a cop in atlanta tell me not to flash my brights at cars who had their lights off at night, because it was a gang initiation and they'd follow you home and kill you. jeez.

when i heard the hook one, they just found the hook stuck in the window screen in the morning. the kid's head? gross.

but my favorite is the girl who orders a chicken sandwich with no mayo and gives it away when it has mayo. the person who eats it gets really sick, and it turns out the "mayo" was a tumor. barf

College girl comes back to her dorm room late after stuyding in the library. Slips into the room with out turning on the light because her roommate (another girl) is sleeping. Whispers to her and realizes that she's actually fooling around with her boyfriend (she thinks). Decides to go back to the library. Come an hour later to police cars, ambulance and police line, and when she is brought to the room by the police they show her blood scrawled words over her bed, "Aaren't you glad you didn't turn on the light?" Woooooo spooky.
I actually believed this one for about 6 months when I was in 10th grade.

I love the chicken sandwich one. How about the woman who ate at Taco Hell and then went to the ER with this horrible itching and swelling in her mouth? The doctors look, and find that hundreds of roach eggs are incubating in her cheeks, ready to hatch!

The hook with variations was a favourite when I was in middle school. Also, the babysitter who kept getting creepy phone calls, the police trace the call and it turns out they're being made from the phone upstairs. Whoa!

And, finally, one I heard just a couple of years ago from a completely sane and reasonable adult woman: You shouldn't drink Slimfast because they put sawdust in it to make you feel full, and her friend's friend had to have her gallbladder out after being on the Slimfast plan. I can think of so many other reasons not to drink Slimfast...

Help! Someone stole my kidneys!

and then there was the woman in bed, alone in her house with her dog. she hears noises. she hangs her hand over the side of the bed and the dog gives her a lick. she hears more noises and dripping. she hangs her hand over the side of the bed and the dog gives her a lick. she hears more noises. finally gets up to find dead dog hanging in the shower, dripping blood. WHO LICKED HER HAND????

My MOTHER works at an AFB, and told my grandmother this story after 9/11 as if it had happened to one of her coworkers. We still give her hell over it.

Remember the one where someone slips something in the victims drink and the next thing they know they wake up in a hotel room bath tub packed in ice with a phone next to them with a note attatched saying to phone 911 that their liver had been stolen. Yikes! This urban legend actually made it to our company news paper as a warning!

Hi,
I have recently found out that in 1914 in Oakland the babysitting story with the guy in the house actually happened. I was wondering if you knew if that was true.

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