25. Mar, 2017

Penguins, cockroaches and brides....


Funny how things change over the years, isn´t it? I´m not talking fashion here, nor life style. Not even – heaven forbid! – politics. I´m thinking more of what are now known as urban myths, and which in my (much) younger days were simply accepted as “something that happened to somebody somebody else knows.” Bit of a mouthful, but you get my drift.

Take the penguin.  This story started circulating a few years ago, but pops up now and then still. The gist of it; child goes to zoo, takes a fancy to a penguin and pops it under his/her coat. Manages to get it home on the school bus, and is only detected when parents notice an even worse odour than usual emanating from child´s bedroom. A likely story! Yet still it comes back!

And the cockroach? Ah, this one involves a chap having a cigarette on the toilet. When he´s finished his various tasks, he puts the cigarette butt down the loo, and is a mite surprised when an explosion severe enough to cause painful burns somewhere you particularly don´t want painful burns ensues. His wife had, naturally, thrown a cockroach down the loo to dispose of it. When the resilient insect refused to drown, she had dosed the toilet with insecticide; hence the explosion. Doh!

The interesting thing about all such myths is the fact that they always take place in a different country to where the person who is telling the tale lives. Now, when I was a child (back in the dark ages) such tales invariably happened in the next street, or at the very least in the same town. And often, they carried a cautionary element rather than an attempt at humour.

Take Mrs. Smith, who used to live down the road. Did you know she used to have two children? Alas, one day the eldest boy, who was a rough, tough little thug, suddenly climbed on her knee and demanded a cuddle.  Five minutes later, he died. Just like that! Not surprisingly, the poor woman moved …

And then again, there was the butcher who used to own the shop on the corner. He put a dish of liver out, ready to be sliced, and then got distracted by a sudden stream of customers. When he came back to prepare the liver, it had crawled off the dish and wrapped itself around a handy milk bottle. When the liver was beaten into submission and sent off for analysis, it was found to be full of live cancer cells …. No surprising the poor man went out of business.

And did you hear about the newlyweds? She always did think she was better than the rest of us. Told everybody she and her bridegroom were going to Paris (Paris! That´s in France, isn´t? Ooh, wouldn´t catch me going there. They don´t speak English, and all that garlic!)f or their honeymoon. Only they didn´t. They didn´t have a penny left after the wedding, so went home and closed the curtains and didn´t switch a light on for a week. Unfortunately, they forgot to cancel the milk, so eventually the milkman tried the back door to see if he could put the day´s offering inside, and was shocked to find the bride sitting in the kitchen in her negligee (don´t worry, that was unbelievably sexy underwear back then) no doubt as surprised as he was ….

Hey, ho. Wonder what the trend in make-believe will be in the next few years ….,