Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: An abandoned wife receives a diet aid ad in the mail, examines the "personalized" Post-It note affixed to it, concludes the ad must have come from the woman her husband has taken up with, and kills the homewrecker.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1995]
Origins: This story about an ad campaign gone murderously awry has been kicking about since the late 1980s. While in many of the tellings, the jilted older wife fatally shoots the far younger gal the philandering husband is now living with under the mistaken belief the floozy had sent the "Try this — it works!" note, we've encountered tellings where the murdered woman was said to be the cheating husband's new wife and others where the victim was strangled instead of shot. The nature of the product being advertised varied too: while the misunderstood ad pitch was sometimes for a weight-loss system or diet aid, it was sometimes for anti-aging products.
One reader reported hearing the following unusual completion of the legend:
[Collected via e-mail, 2002]Another of our readers heard the same legend, but minus the "Try this — it works!" advertisement:
I heard almost the exact same tale, but the version I heard is that, after the wife kills the girlfriend, she goes home to find a friend just leaving her doorstop. The friend asks her if she had recieved the diet plan that the friend had mailed her. The friend had tried it, and it really worked and she thought the wife would like to try it. The wife realizes what she had done and collapses.
[Collected via e-mail, 2006]While the murdered bimbo story is an urban legend as opposed to a report of something that actually happened, the direct mail advertising method on which it is based is indeed real.
I heard a similar tale several years ago as well. Only in this story, the husband's new girlfriend works at an eatery in the mall. The former wife doens't realize this and walks up to order a Coke. The girlfriend takes her money with a smirk and hands her the drink. The wife walks away fuming at having been served by THAT WOMAN! When she takes a drink of the Coke, she realizes that she was given a DIET COKE instead. She fumes because she knows that this is the girlfriend's way of saying she's fat and can use diet soda. So then the story gets back on track, she goes to their new house, shoots twice and there's one less cheerleader in the world.
Some examples of companies' using this form of direct mail advertising include the following:
The reaction of those who receive such solicitations can well be imagined. But for those experiencing difficulty quite picturing it, we offer a 1996 letter from one of Ann Lander's readers:
Dear Ann:It is this aspect of this form of deceptive advertising that is most objectionable. Those on the receiving end of such notes are all too often left feeling injured by a "friend's" heartlessly helpful gesture. Not all of us have the high-powered jobs we lust after, or a full head of hair, or a perfect
I had to write after reading the letter from "Roseville, Calif." Her sister had just found a note taped to her windshield telling her she was overweight and should do something about it.
I recently had a similar experience. I received an advertisement for a weight-loss program clipped from a newspaper. It came in the mail. On it was written, "Mary, try it. It works." There was no signature or return address.
I have been to five doctors in six years. The last one figured out why I am struggling so hard to lose weight. It's my metabolism.
I am slowly getting the unwanted pounds off and don't need any advice from anonymous
For anyone who feels the need to "help" an overweight person, keep in mind that they are well aware of the problem. Reminding them of it just hurts.
— Aiming For A
Dear New York:
Losing weight is the ultimate do-it-yourself project.
Congratulations and good luck to you, dear.
Barbara "damage uncontrolled" Mikkelson
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