What Harmless Lies Did Your Family Tell You?

Screenshot: Cheaper by the Dozen (2003

Last week, in a very animated conversation about the Rainforest Cafe, I admitted to my Jezebel co-workers that my abuela once told me the frog mascot was a coqui, an amphibian indigenous to Puerto Rico—one of thousands of mini-lies she implanted onto my brain to make most pop culture and/or historical facts about our island. I appreciate her dedication to Boricua identity, but it did not go over so well when I tried to tell my elementary school class that Pocahontas was, in fact, from San Juan. All of this is to say: Family lies to you, sometimes about really stupid shit that goes slightly beyond “Santa isn’t real.” In this week’s Pissing Contest, I want to hear all about those lies—not the earth-shattering, super depressing/distressing/relationship-ending betrayals, but the joke-y stuff just short of that. Points will be awarded for funny answers.

Before that, let’s take a look at last week’s winners. Here is a collection of the best urban legends from your hometowns.

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nerdybirdy, I, too, love the angry cat ghost:

Before being hanged for a crime he denied committing, he claimed that a mighty oak tree would spring from his heart to prove his innocence. Visitors to the grave and tree say they’ve heard weeping when the winds are still, which creeps me right the fuck out.

But this ridiculous story is my absolute favorite:

Cat is sacrificed to become a ghost, is not happy about it. I’ve heard about this from two unrelated sources, but have zero evidence. I don’t need it. So apparently way back in the day at this mansion, the lady of the manor did the unthinkable and fell in love with a slave. The two were murdered and their ghosts wander the grounds together. Supposedly they’ve been seen walking the grounds hand-in-hand. Aww.

Then in the late 1960s, a group of people that squatted there were super into the idea of the place being haunted. So when their cat was dying, they decided to brutally sacrifice it in the hopes that it would haunt the mansion along with the two ghosts. AND IT WORKED. But the cat is fucking pissed. Stop laughing so I can finish.

Now the mansion is used to host weddings and stuff. Okay so that brings us to the two stories I’ve heard. First is that there was a bride that was horribly allergic to cats. She’s getting her photos done and the rest of her party is milling about, somebody leaves the room, and within seconds the bride is sneezing with watery eyes, can’t breathe, and she’s like “Where’s the cat? There’s a cat in here, I know it! I can feel it!” And there was no cat in the room. Zero cat. Supposedly she ended up having to go to the ER and got married in a hospital bed.

The second story claims there was a wedding party taking photos on the stairs and suddenly the person at the top starts to freak about something around their legs and everyone starts tumbling like dominoes down the stairs. When they all got up and dust themselves off, everyone had little cat scratches or claw marks on their legs or little slices in their pants and dresses. I love this stupid story so fucking much.

We also have ancient burial grounds and a fort on the island, and the USS Alabama in Mobile Bay is home to 8 friendly fire victims that supposedly haunt the battleship. But those are boring compared to an angry ghost cat.

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SingedVinegar2 said they would deliver, and they delivered, Scotland-style:

Yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss! A thread I can contribute multiple stories to!

As some of you know, I’m Scottish. And not just any sort of Scottish, but that terrifying sort - I’m a fucking Glaswegian. We’ll charm the knickers off you (or your man. We’re not fussy), shag you in an alley and then steal your chips and make off with your shoes. We’re an ancient lot. We can give you a Kiss or a Smile, just tell us which. We’re the powerhouse of the Scottish economy and have been for over three hundred years. We’re the original melting pot and we’re the city of blood and watercolour, ruled over by an angry sky and feared by lesser cities (Edinburgh, you frosty bitch...we’re coming for you). And we’ve got urban legends to spare.

Our first story dives deep, deep into Glasgow’s ancient history and runs all the way back to when the city was first mentioned. I said we’re old - we’ve been here since before the Romans nonced their way north, had their collected arses well and truly tanned and were forced to build their precious wee walls (Antonine and Hadrian). We first emerged, it seems, at the confluence of two of Glasgow’s rivers - the Clyde, and the Molendinar Burn. And for centuries before the Christians fucked it all up, the settlement at the joining of the two rivers seemed to have had some major social and cultural importance, important enough for St Mungo to found his wee church in the area. And, here’s the thing - the Molendinar? Is now mostly hidden under roads and culverts and you rarely see it (though there are glimpses of it in various parks and places) And it’s haunted.

Note I didn’t say “it’s apparently haunted”. There isn’t a person in this city who knows about the history of the Molendinar that doesn’t say “allegedly”. The Molendinar is haunted. It was even the basis for a show, Sea of Souls, made way back in the early 2000s. The ghosts vary, from the benign to the mischievous, but never malevolent. The biggest urban legend around this river stems from the fact that where it runs, underground and contained by culverts, past the Cathedral and Royal Infirmary (and, spookily, the Glasgow Necropolis), whilst you can’t hear or see it...there are times when the river roars it’s presence, as though to remind you that it’s still there (but how could you forget, when it’s known that Glasgow is a city of rivers?)

The second one is both scary and fucking hilarious. There’s always been claims of an iron-toothed vampire in Glasgow, at least as far back as the 19th century. From what I know, it was known as Jenny wi’ the Iron Teeth (we’re nothing if not original with our names and I’ll thank you to remember that she’s more often known as “That cunt wi’ the iron teeth”) She apparently haunted Glasgow Green, feeding off randoms and children and then, in 1954, a very large gang were discovered roaming the Southern Necropolis (aye, we’ve got a few. And whit??), armed with weapons and stakes, aiming to end the hag. The hilarious thing? They were all children. That’s right folks - when some cities form posses it’s usually drunken men or women. In Glasgow? We send the weans to scalp you. If you want a job done properly, send in the children. (Jenny’s not been seen since, by the way. So they did something right...)

I think, because we’re such an ancient city, that a theory my Grandmother has about ghosts and hauntings can be proven - that ghosts aren’t actually the spirits of people who refuse to “cross over”, but that they’re the manifestation of a place or city’s memories. We’ve got haunted churches, museums, schools, parks, underground stations (Kelvinbridge underground station...where late at night you can hear the sound of laughter from the tunnels...) and even a haunted toilet. No, I’m serious on that last one. There was apparently a tenement building - long since destroyed - that had an outdoor toilet which was apparently haunted by an old woman who died taking a shit. But here’s the thing: Glasgow’s the sort of city whose bones are easily found...and rattled. We know that the ancient Britons and even the Picts placed great importance on water and it’s no coincidence that a large number of the hauntings in Glasgow are connected in some way to the rivers in Glasgow. Just in case you want to know which rivers are in Glasgow, I’ll list them: Clyde, Kelvin, Molendinar Burn, Levern Water, White Cart, the North Calder Water, the hilarious-sounding Rotten Calder (well, it does start in East Kilbride, Polo Mint City herself...) Allander Water, Luggie Water, Glazert Water...the list is pretty huge. And yeah, there are a lot of Glaswegians who believe that our rivers are haunted, either by yon spectral cunts who moon about your granny’s living room and knock over her good china or the ruins of the Industrial Era, a constant echo and reminder of what once came before.

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That’s Miss Bowie of the Murder Capital of the World to you:

I finally have a good one!

My home town was known as the ‘Murder Capital of the World’ for a very short while (thanks, Ed Kemper), but for some reason the story that went around my elementary school went like this:

There was a dentist in our town, and he and his extended family (wife, kids, his parents, an aunt or two, who knows) lived up the hill in a big house. One of his patients was addicted to drugs, and when the dentist denied him recreational use of drugs on hand, the patient followed the dentist home, killed him and his entire family very slowly, and propped them up on the patio and pool furniture, and left them there. No one noticed until like 3 days later a neighbor farther up the hill realized it was weird the family would be in the same positions all day long, and called the cops. Killer was never found (how, then, it was known he was a patient is questionable).

But try as I might, I could never find one single grain of truth to this. Not one “family killing propped in backyard”/ “dentist family murdered”/ “patient kills whole family” or anything close.

I knew it was an urban legend when my sister, 9 years younger, came home from elementary school with the same tale.

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Esmeralda Pippin, this is good:

Where I grew up there was a place in the woods known as Witches’ Rock which had some wierd 60's painting of a sorceror on it. There were all sorts of stories about how witches had been burned there back in the 1600s, but in reality it was just a place kids went to drink.

Oh, and almost forgot, one summer my friends were all atwitter about how “the Manatou,” a 7 ft tall hairy beast, would come for you if you were walking alone late at night. One friend swore the Manatou had threatened her abusive boyfriend on his way home from the night shift and made him stop drinking. Another friend then swore it had appeared around his house. Apparently, it was a local legend.

But, a year or two later, a guy I was dating swore me to secrecy and told me he had dressed in a monster costume to try to scare the abusive boyfriend sober. Hey, it worked, and now you all know.

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Drop those tales of familial disloyalty below. Remember, your Kinja username is mostly anonymous, and your ornery step-brother probably doesn’t even know what Jezebel is. It’s win-win.

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