Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: A stock clerk's mishearing leads to an embarrassing question being broadcast over the store's
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]
Origins: So strong is our societal taboo
The taboo extends not only to the unmentionable functions themselves, but also to ancillary products associated with them. There are still plenty of us who try to rush through the checkout line as quickly as possible and avoid making eye contact with the clerk when purchasing such common items as toilet paper (itself renamed by manufacturers to "bathroom tissue") and feminine hygiene products. The joke reproduced above (which has circulated on the Internet as part of a larger
The following joke incorporates a similar theme:
[Linkletter, 1967]A joke popularized by comedian Jay Leno illustrates, in a slightly different way, the potential embarrassment created by our penchant for addressing delicate subjects with euphemisms rather than directness.
After baking several loaves of bread, a Cincinnati housewife told me, she ran out of wax paper. She went to the store, but the clerk misunderstood her request and brought her a roll of bathroom tissue. Noticing only one width of it, she asked, "Is this the widest you've got?" The clerk said, "Well, lady, what do you want to use it for?"
Barbara "wipe out" Mikkelson
Last updated: 19 March 2005
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