I told the “presumably fanciful” story of the guy who insured his rare cigars, smoked them, then tried to collect on his fire insurance. Robert Doucette was kind enough to point me to the mother of all myth-debunking sites, lest anyone think this might actually be true. I commend this site to you even if you don’t care about this particular story for its links to other amusing, but preposterous folklore.

In the same vein are several books by Jan Harold Brunvand:

  • The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings
  • The Mexican Pet: More “New” Urban Legends and Some Old Favorites
  • Curses! Broiled Again!
  • The Baby Train & Other Lusty Urban Legends
  • The Choking Doberman and Other “New” Urban Legends

This is a guy with a flair for titles. How can you not be at least a little curious? So I bought all five.

The baby train has to do with this notion that a certain married students dorm on campus had the highest birth rate on campus because of the train that came through every morning at 5 AM — too early to get up, too late to go back to sleep, so . . . and it all sounds sort of plausible except that Brunvand has apparently encountered this same legend as far off as Australia.

The Doberman was allegedly choking on three human fingers. So the vet, who had sent its mistress home rather than have her watch the required surgery, called her immediately with the warning that she leave the house immediately and call the police. Well, when the cops came they found a semi-fingerless intruder unconscious upstairs in the house. Thanks to the Doberman and the quick-thinking vet, tragedy was averted. And this episode, though no newspaper could ever track down the actual woman and vet involved, is reported in numerous different newspapers in numerous different cities throughout 1981, according to Brunvand.

You get the idea — he has scores and scores of such tales in his collection.

Next thing you know, he’ll be debunking Oliver Stone movies.

Tomorrow: Still More on the Roth IRA



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