Urban Legends
Spiders in the Hairdo
The Bluebook Scam
The $100 Corvette
Ready-To-Tell Tales

What are Urban Legends? 

"Several decades ago, kids in New York City started adopting baby alligators as pets. But as the fad wore off, and the alligators got bigger and started nipping fingers and toes, the kids flushed them down the toilets. But some of those alligators lived. Now, they are fourteen feet long. And the New York sewer workers have to carry rifles when they go down there."

"There was a family that bought some fried chicken? One piece was really tough. When they looked closely, they realized it was a southern fried rat."

"A woman had a beehive hairdo and never brushed it. After a while black widow spiders nested in her hair and started biting her. Later, she found millions of spider eggs in her hair ready to hatch."

Have you ever heard stories like these? They are contemporary urban legends, our modern-day folktales. You often hear them in conversation, or read them in newspapers, or sometimes hear them reported on newscasts as true. Occasionally, they turn up as plots for TV shows.

These modern urban legends can be found all over the world in many variations. The settings and characters change with each telling to reflect the attitudes and societies of both teller and listener. Oddly enough, they are never told by the person they happen to. Invariably, these stories happen to a Friend of a Friend (my aunts neighbor, my boss' daughter,etc.). For that reason, they are also called Foaftales--F.O.A.F.--because they happen to a Friend Of A Friend. The person telling these tales honestly believes they are true and that the "true" facts can be found just a few informants back. There is just enough credibility in each story to be believable.

We don't often think of a legend or a folktale as something urban or contemporary. But legends are a big part of our modern day folklore. Unlike older, more fanciful folktales modern urban legends involve recent events or situations that seem real. They are usually full of irony and often have a supernatural element. Modern urban legends reflect our concerns, fears, prejudices, and our delight in other people's folly.

They're usually just anecdotes or short stories told in conversation -- rarely full-blown tales. The simple, yet bizarre plot twists of urban legends are wonderful material for the modern storyteller. Bill Mooney and I have collected some of our favorites in the recording and book Spiders In The Hairdo: Modern Urban Legends.

Some, we've kept anecdotal; others we have expanded into full stories. By filling out the characters and setting of the original anecdote or by combining several elements (as we have in "The Slasher"), we have tried to bring the stories to life. Some of them are really gruesome, even downright gross. But remember, we didn't make up the plots of these tales. You did. Or, at least, other people like you. Nobody knows where they come from. Some like "The Vanishing Hitchhiker" have been around for centuries and keep being up-dated. They are ever changing and continue to reflect some part of who we are.

We hope you enjoy the urban legends in Spiders In The Hairdo, and keep your ears open for new ones that are being born every day.


  About David | Music | Storytelling | Store
Schedule | Photos | David's Links | What's New