"Sounds like a legend to me!" or words to that effect, accompanied the following three stories, all of which (more or less) concern ladies.
Frankly, they were all new to me. So, I ask you, readers, are these legendary ladies? In other words, I wonder if anyone reading these accounts has heard the same stories told elsewhere or in different versions.The first story was sent to me by Sheila Hartney of Overland Park, Kan., who writes that she first heard it from an airline flight attendant around 1976. But Hartney has heard variations a few times since then. Here's her original version:
A flight attendant is working her way down the aisle in the first-class section taking drink orders. At a row where a well-dressed older couple is sitting, the flight attendant asks the woman, "What will you have to drink, ma'am?" But the woman does not respond.
Again the flight attendant asks the passenger, "What would you like to drink today?" Still, the woman does not answer.
A third time the flight attendant asks the woman for her drink order. This time her husband explains, "I'm sorry, but my wife never speaks to the servants," and orders a drink for her.
That story, with its neat three-part repetition and its unlikely explanation for the woman's silence, sure sounds like a legend to me. And so does story No. 2, which is about another somewhat pretentious lady.
I got this story via electronic mail from Lind Krenzke of Columbus, Ohio. He says that a friend of his claims that it really happened to a friend of hers, but Krenzke has his doubts.
According to the story, this particular lady has a wedding to attend and needs a nice wedding gift, but she hates to spend a great deal of money on one. Then she has an inspiration: "Aha," she thinks, "I have that monogrammed silver tray from my wedding that I never use. I'll just take it to a silversmith and have him remove my monogram and put hers on it."
So she takes the tray to a silversmith and asks him to modify the monogram. But the man takes one look at the tray, shakes his head, and says, "Look, lady, you can only do this so many times. The tray's become too thin for another changed monogram."
That story, with its perfect poetic justice, sure sounds like a legend to me, but is it? Readers?
I picked up the third possibly legendary lady story from a computer news group. It was posted there by a man in Kanata, Ontario, Canada, who saw two versions reported in the Canadian press. One was datelined Ottawa and the other was credited to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.
In the first version, which supposedly takes place during midwinter, a visitor who was seeking a convention site in downtown Ottawa, Canada's capital, was being shown around town about 10 a.m. With smoking banned in many public buildings, it has become a regular event at that time of day for secretaries and other government office workers to gather in the doorways of buildings to have a quick smoke.
The visitor noticed lots of women standing around in doorways without coats or boots, all of them smoking, and he remarked to his guide, "Boy, your hookers really get started early in the day!"
In the Yellowknife version, the visitors were said to be a pair of German tourists. Yellowknife, perhaps not so incidentally, is the capital of the Northwest Territories, though it is considerably less populated than Ottawa.
The Ontario man who posted the stories added the query, "Is this a Canadian Civil Service legend? Are there any similar stories in, say, Scandinavia or Alaska?"
I'd like to know the same thing about all three stories. Have they circulated by word of mouth at other times, in other places?
- "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 him in care of the Deseret News.