Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: While away fighting for his country in the Gulf War, a
What's on the tape varies too. Some report it's a tape of that year's Super Bowl which cuts away from the action on the field towards the end to switch to the "I want a divorce" performance. Others say it's a video of a kid's birthday party or of a family Christmas celebration. Yet others claim it was a long-awaited commercial film (e.g., Batman Returns) with the ending taped over to add the disturbing footage from home.
Very few claim to have seen the video themselves. Most who swear by it base their belief in the tale on the word of someone of their acquaintance who says he was there.
The legend strikes as deep a chord as it does because it plays upon our fear of the "significant other" left behind finding someone else; a fear exemplified by our stereotype of the brave lad off defending his country's receiving a "Dear John" letter. While letters are usually private affairs, the "Dear John" video is always shared with the unfortunate soldier's comrades-in-arms, thus heightening the embarrassment and betrayal he is forced to endure. His humiliation is not a private hell: he is cuckolded in front of his unit.
Video greetings sent by soldiers to family and friends back home became the order of the day during the Gulf War, so it's not hard to imagine videotapes flowing the other way as well. The spiteful wife is portrayed either as providing one man with oral gratification or as having unspecified sex acts with multiple partners, sometimes even partners of a different race. Simple
This legend is a saltier version of a tale typically told about a college student rather than a soldier. The college form of the legend has been with us since at least 1983 or 1984:
[Collected on the Internet, 1998]The jilted college student succeeds in turning the tables on his Jezebel by mailing the incriminating photos to her family, but the wronged soldier almost never seems to get any of his own back. A higher court of appeal exists for the unmarried girl (i.e., ratting her out to her parents), but what is a man to do with an errant wife?
There were two high school sweethearts who went out together for four years in high school and were both virgins and enjoyed losing their virginity with each other in 10th grade. When they graduated, they wanted to both go to the same college but the girl was accepted to a college on the east coast, and the guy went to the west coast. They agreed to be faithful to each other and spend anytime they could together.
As time went on, the guy would call the girl and she would never be home, and when he wrote, she would take weeks to return her letters. Even when he
Because she became annoyed, and now had a new boyfriend, she wanted to get him off her back. So what she did is this: She took a polaroid picture of her sucking her new boyfriend's unmentionables and sent it to her old boyfriend with a note reading, "I found a new boyfriend, leave me alone." Well needless to say, this guy was heartbroken, but even more so, he was pissed. So what he did next was awesome.
He wrote on the back of the photo the following: "Dear Mom and Dad, having a great time at college, please send more money!" and then mailed the picture to her parents.
Barbara "picture it" Mikkelson
Last updated: 26 April 2005
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