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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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more urban legends

Had my semi-annual dental check-up today. Though I'm not as horrified by dentist appointments as I was when I was a kid (and as far as dentists go, my dentist is pretty cool), they're still not my favourite way to spend the day. I also have never figured out how to properly answer questions when my mouth is full of equipment.


DENTIST: So, how is the writing going?

ME: mdphglr

DENTIST: That's great! How many subscribers does your newsletter have now?

ME: kmmphlgrbub

DENTIST: Wow, over 40,000? Congratulations!


After my appointment (and my teeth newly-cleaned), of course, I was overcome by a terrible craving for chocolate and went to The Town Dump a few stores down to buy a Dipped Flakey. The Town Dump is a great retro candy/toy store very similar to Sugar Mountain. As I was paying for my purchase, a couple of teenage girls came up to the counter. I am not exaggerating the following conversation:

GIRL: Is it true that you can die if you eat pop rocks and soda at the same time?

OWNER: You mean like Mikey?

GIRL: Yes, like Mikey!!! (gets excited, giggles to her friends) Okay, I want to buy this package of pop rocks and this root beer.

OWNER: I think it has to be Coke.

GIRL: Oh really? (goes to get a Coke instead)

OWNER (to me, quietly): You wouldn't believe how much Coke and pop rocks I've sold since that Urban Legend movie came out.

GIRL (coming back): Okay, got it. I'm going to do this now.

OWNER: No, don't do it HERE! The last time someone had pop rocks and Coke, it took me weeks to clean up the mess after their heads exploded.

GIRL (squealing in delight): Cool! I'm suing you if my head explodes.

OWNER (voice fading as I walk out of the store after buying my Dipped Flakey): You can't sue me. You'll have to sue the people who made that Urban Legend movie...

I want to start an Urban Legend, don't you? And I think there are enough of you out there to help perpetuate whatever Urban Legend we come up with. First of all, though, we have to all agree on the essential elements of an Urban Legend. Some folks from the urban legend newsgroup came up with the following elements:

  • "An urban legend:

    • appears mysteriously and spreads spontaneously in varying forms
    • contains elements of humor or horror (the horror often "punishes" someone who flouts society's
    • makes good storytelling.
      does NOT have to be false, although most are. ULs often have a basis in fact, but it's their life after-the-fact
      (particularly in reference to the second and third points) that gives them particular interest."

Some reference websites:

Also, it would be nice for us to come up with an urban legend that had something to do with the Internet. Any ideas? Elements that you think should be included? Post your suggestions in the blatherchat.

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