In January I quoted a letter from Brenda Sommer, a bartender in Austin, Texas. She has the best knack for describing oral storytelling I've encountered in a long time, and she also has the neatest handwriting I've seen since my third-grade teacher's.
It's a pleasure to hear from Brenda again with another report of a legend that's circulating in her neck of the woods. She writes:DEAR DOC: Springtime is upon us here in Texas. As I amble about my yard, sprinkling fertilizer hither and yon, my thoughts turn to another form of manure spreading, which prompts my letter to you.
The other day at the bar I bopped into the back kitchen to grab some more cold beer, and the two cooks were giggling over something, one proclaiming "No way, man," and the other responding, "Swear to heaven, it's true."
Couldn't help myself; had to ask.
Seems that the cook's girlfriend's sister's neighbors in New Jersey had gone to a resort in Las Vegas. Couple No. 1 turned on the TV in their room and were tickled to find a crudely made, one-camera, soundless video of a couple making love.
Inspired by the topic, they proceeded to do likewise. They had a wonderful trip and recommended the resort to couple No. 2, who "six months later," took a holiday at the very same resort.
They, too, turned on the TV in their room, saw a poorly made porn video, and upon closer inspection, recognized Couple No. 1 as the unpaid actors. It seems that someone at the resort had been taping the guests.
Just thought you ought to be aware of this, and consider it when making travel arrangements.
That's all for now. You take care now. - BRENDA SOMMER
DEAR BRENDA: Fascinating! A classic honeymoon legend of the East has found its way to the back kitchen of a Texas bar; it's attributed to a friend of a friend (a FOAF), of course.
In the version you heard, the couple from New Jersey traveled a lot farther before receiving the shock of their lives than is normally the case with this tale. In the usual story, as it has been told for decades "back East," the honeymooners are staying in a resort in the Pocono mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. They're "Filmed in the Act" (as I call this story) with a camera hidden behind a two-way mirror.
Many such resorts - so I am told - feature mirrors, round beds, heart-shaped hot tubs, "theme" rooms, etc., but the rest of the story is definitely not true.
Usually the story claims that the resort caters to newlyweds on a one-time-only basis, in order to avoid any chance of couples recognizing themselves performing on the X-rated channel. But this plan fails when one couple registers under an assumed name in order to celebrate their first anniversary in the same spot where they spent their honeymoon.
Naturally, they beat the odds, and view the very tape they had unwittingly starred in just one year earlier.
But even when the nostalgic couple chooses a different resort, they still see themselves on the screen. It's not very likely that such a thing would happen, but it wouldn't be much of a story without that detail.
In some versions, the married couple find themselves watching a tape of the husband cavorting with his secretary, with whom he had visited the same resort some months earlier.
Other versions of the story claim that resorts, both in the Poconos and elsewhere, can offer bargain prices because they reap huge profits from selling homemade porn tapes. But it's never explained how the owners avoid going broke as a result of the lawsuits that would inevitably be brought against them.
Would any resort owner really be so reckless as to risk legal action and certain financial ruin just to make a little money on renting sexy videos? No way, man!
"Curses! Broiled Again," Jan Harold Brunvand's fourth collection of urban legends, is now available in paperback from Norton. Send your questions and urban legends to Prof. Brunvand in care of this newspaper.