Thursday, December 3, 2015

Page 112: Caught wearing nothing but a football helmet

Destiny’s offhand comment about being caught wearing nothing but a motorcycle helmet references another well-known urban legend from the 1960s, often passed off as a true story (see, for instance, the Madison State Journal article about “an Ohio housewife” reprinted in “Percolation and Runoff,” 1964). The legend typically goes something like this:

While doing the laundry, a housewife decides to add her dress to the wash. She also puts on a football helmet that happens to be in the basement. In some versions, she does this to protect her just-set hair from leaky pipes, and in other versions it’s because of spider webs. Just then, the naked woman hears the cough (or knock on the door) of the meter-reader who professionally does his job and, on leaving, remarks, “I hope your team wins, lady!”

"I hope your team wins, lady!"
Details vary, as expected with urban legends: Sometimes the housewife is wearing a raccoon coat (perhaps added to “clean up” the story for print). Sometimes she is discovered not by the meter-reader, but by the mailman, or by a plumber who finally showed up just as she had given up on him. The story is popular enough to turn up in Erma Bombeck’s Aunt Erma’s Cope Book (1979).  Although the person caught unaware (and undressed) is always a woman and her discoverer always a man, but Brunvand (1990) reports a parody version in which the characters’ genders are reversed.

For Further Reading

Anonymous. “Percolation and Runoff.” Journal of the American Water Works Association, December 1964. 56(12): 35–36, 38, 40, 42, 44.

Jan Harold Brunvand. “The Nude Housewife,” in Encyclopedia of Urban Legends. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001, 294–5.

Jan Harold Brunvand. “Some News from the Miscellaneous Legend Files.” Western Folklore, January 1990. 49(1): 111–120.

Barbara Mikkelson, “Chicago Bare,” September 20, 2015, Snopes.com.

[I make a conscientious effort to credit all images used on this blog, but the image accompanying this post appears on several hundred sports websites and none that I looked at gave photo credit. I would gladly add credit if provided with the information.]

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