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Tryst and Shout

Claim:   An adulterous couple trysting in a sports car becomes trapped inside the automobile (and each other) and has to be cut out by the fire department.

LEGEND

Example:   [Train, 1978]

LOVERS CUT FREE FROM EMBRACE


LONDON — A tiny sports car leaves a lot to be desired as a midnight trysting spot, two secret lovers have learned.

Wedged into a two-seater, a near-naked man was suddenly immobilized by a slipped disc, trapping his woman companion beneath him, according to a doctor writing in a medical journal here.

The desperate woman tried to summon help by honking the horn with her foot. A doctor, ambulance driver, firemen, and a group of interested passersby quickly surrounded the car in Regent's Park.

"The lady found herself trapped beneath 200 pounds of pain-racked, immobile man," said Dr. Brian Richards of Kent.

"To free the couple, fireman had to cut away the car frame," he said.

The distraught woman, helped out of the car and into a coat, sobbed: "How am I going to explain to my husband what has happened to his car?"

 

Variations:  
  • The reason why the couple becomes stuck in the car varies:

    • They simply become wedged into a space too small to free themselves.
    • The man (who is on top) injures his back and is unable to move.
    • Freezing weather immobilizes them.
    • The effects of alcohol or carbon monoxide fumes render the lovers incapable of freeing themselves.
    • The woman is startled (generally by the approach of someone else), resulting in a case of penis captivus.

  • Sometimes one (or both) of the participants is a well-known community member.
Origins:   This story about a stuck-together is told both as a joke and as a real occurrence, so this legend, like many others, may have originated as a piece of humor that was later run as a "true" news item by an unsuspecting newspaper. It is a typical adultery legend in which those who commit an infidelity are ultimately exposed by some accidental or freakish occurrence. Some variations heighten the couple's humiliation (and possibly increase the implied moral censure, since we hold persons of privilege to higher standards than ourselves) by making one or both of them prominent people in their community. The punchline delivered by the woman in the final sentence has several possible interpretations:
  • The Cartoon of the legend wife is so amoral that the "wrongness" of her infidelity (especially in light of her narrow escape) doesn't give her pause at all; she is solely concerned with trying to explain away the evidence of it.
  • The wife considers her unfaithfulness to her husband to be a wrong of far lesser magnitude than ruining his car.
  • The woman cares so little for her boyfriend that his well-being is much less important than covering up their affair.
  • The wife realizes that it is the destruction of his precious car (and not her affair) that will make her husband most angry; he values his automobile more than he values his spouse.
The example above was cited by Train as an actual [undated] Reuters article, with a footnote indicating that the story was supposedly also covered by the London Sunday Mirror.

Sightings:   This legend was used as the plot of a 1985 British comedy film Car Trouble.

Last updated:   22 March 2011

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Sources:

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   The Choking Doberman.
    New York: W. W. Norton, 1984.   ISBN 0-393-30321-7   (pp. 142-143).

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   Too Good to Be True.
    New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.   ISBN 0-393-04734-2   (pp. 122-123).

    Dale, Rodney.   The Tumour in the Whale.
    London: Duckworth, 1978.   ISBN 0-7156-1314-6   (pp. 125-126).

    Train, John.   True Remarkable Occurrences.
    New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1978.   ISBN 0-517-53505-X   (p. 20).

Also told in:

    The Big Book of Urban Legends.
    New York: Paradox Press, 1994.   ISBN 1-56389-165-4   (p. 119).