Urban legends are cool to hear because while it sounds a little fishy, there also seems to be some truth in them. Urban Legends are repeated over and over again with many circulating for decades. The most frequent source of these stories are a friend of a friend (FOAF), so that’s good enough for me. Here are my favorites:
1. Richard Gere was admitted into a Los Angeles Hospital Emergency room with a foreign object lodged in his rectum: a gerbil. This is the first urban legend that someone laid on me and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know whether to believe him or not. It sounded weird, but the storyteller either believed it himself or was a good liar. The story creeped me out. I didn’t even know if a gerbil was real, let alone able to be shoved up one’s bunghole. People are suckers for gossip about sex. Weird sex and that obsession can short-circuit our capacity for rational thought. I heard the story in 1982, the year Officer and a Gentleman was released, and it basically went like this: Gere was admitted to a LA hospital with a foreign object lodged in his rectum. X-Rays showed the object to be a gerbil ( either dead or alive depending on storyteller). He was then rushed to surgery where it took an entire team of doctors to extract the animal from his behind….SHAAA. I always wondered, why Richard Gere ? The story has no merit in it from any source and is a true urban legend that went viral before viral existed.
2. The Kidney Heist – In 1997 another classic urban legend was born in New Orleans. The viral message under the header Traveler Beware got so much attention that the New Orleans Police Dept. published an official statement to calm fears. The story as told to me was that a businessman on a out-of-town trip went to the hotel bar for a drink. His drink was laced with a heavy sedative making him pass out. He awoke the next morning in his bathtub full of ice with a kidney missing. Apparantly a clever robber who also was a surgeon removed his kidney for sale on the black market. This has been told thousands of times using a number of cities and has a slight twist each time. I got a little smarter on this one and was skeptical…I mean there are a lot of loose ends on this one. But the story thrived even though no substantiating evidence was ever found. I think this is a cool urban legend with all it’s intrigue and I think I may have repeated the story once or twice to fellow suckers.
3. Jamie Lee Curtis, Hermaphrodite? Again, weird sex story. Jamie Lee Curtis ( for the younger generation Curtis was a teen star in the classic Halloween movie, 1978, or Arnold Schwarzennegger’s wife in True Lies, 1994) is a well known actress and urban legend has it that she is a hermaphrodite ( more crudely put, “born with a penis”). This rumor has lasted two decades and has never been proven. Most folks seem to be satisfied with the argument that the info was true because they heard it from a friend of a friend who happens to know a doctor who was told about it in medical school. Oh, and she has a unisex first name. I never repeated this one as it was creepy enough to hear. For the new generation the same urban legend has been told about Megan Fox and Lady Gaga.
4. Don’t Flash Your Headlights! I totally bought into this one the first time I heard it as it has it’s roots in LA and a FOAF told me it was true. It goes like this: Police officers working with the DARE program has issued this warning – If you are driving after dark and see an on-coming car with no headlights on, DO NOT FLASH YOUR HEADLIGHTS AT THEM! This is a common Bloods gang member “initiation game”. In order to be accepted into the gang, they have to shoot and kill all individuals in the first auto that does a courtesy flash. I wasn’t about to test this theory out and for months I just passed by cars with no headlights on, but after I saw a car pull into McDonalds and a bunch of kids get out, I went back to the courtesy flash and am still alive to talk about it. A+ on Urban legend scale.
5. Gatorade – Mixing Gatorade with liqour will get you drunk faster as Gatorade gets in blood system faster. OK, this sounds semi-scientific and makes a little sense. I was told this in college at a frat party, so it must be true. I actually couldn’t find a definitive answer on this one. What I did find was that the inventor of Gatorade, Dr. Robert Cade, invented a Hop’n Gator Beer which was a mixture of beer and Gatorade with about 25% more alcohol content than standard beers. His thinking was jocks drink Gatorade and fans drink beer, but the combo quickly failed with consumers. P.S. It is true that if you eat pop rocks and drink Coca-Cola at the same time your stomach will explode…swear.
*6. Craig Kinney – Was a two-sport star athlete at San Diego State and drafted by both the Chargers and Dodgers but declined because he thought the travel would interfere with his plans of being a good husband and father…Pass it on and embellish if you’d like.