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Peter Gun

Claim:   A college student bursts into his dorm room naked to play a crude prank on his roommate, not realizing that his girlfriend and her parents are waiting inside the room.

LEGEND

Example:   [Brunvand, 1986]

Two roommates had taken to pulling crude pranks on each other in the dorm. It happened that one lazy Sunday afternoon one of the roommates had gone down the hall from his room to take a shower. His fellow roommate was in the room studying when there was a knock on the door and the showering roommate's father, who had driven down for a visit, came in bringing with him the girlfriend of the showerer and his mother. The folks were quite naturally invited into the room and they commenced to chat. The other roommate was quite taken with the girlfriend, and he did not go and get his friend, likely assuming he would return soon — which he did. He was clad only in a towel, which he threw off as [he] opened the door and barged in; with his hand gripping his penis, he screamed, "Bang, bang; you're dead!"1

 

Variations:
  • Some versions (such as the example quoted above) suggest that the second roommate deliberately does not give the returning showerer any warning because he has designs on his roommate's girlfriend himself.
  • In another variation the showerer has two roommates and thus is not tipped off by the sounds of conversation issuing from the room when he returns.
  • Some variants involve the showerer wrapping his towel around his head and shouting with a foreign accent as he enters the room.
  • One variant describes a student who strips naked and hides inside the closet of his girlfriend's dormitory room. He jumps out of the closet when he hears someone enter the room, only to discover that the new arrival is the fire inspectors and not his girlfriend.
Origins:   A Cartoon of the legend quaint legend from an era when same-sex dormitories and chaperoned visits were the norm, and impressing your girl's parents was the most important part of the dating ritual (after impressing your girl, of course). Embarrassing yourself in front of your girl's parents (and your girl to boot) was the ultimate in dating disasters, and what could be more humiliating than being caught acting goofy while naked?

In the following years, when we began to admit that young, unmarried people actually engaged in sex (but we still didn't condone it), we developed a few answers to that "What could be more humiliating?" question. We had the Blind Date legend, in which a young man's intentions of engaging in sex were inadvertently revealed to his date's father, then the Fete Worse Than Death legend, in which both boyfriend and girlfriend are caught participating in sexual foreplay in front of a host of friends and relatives.

This legend is now a mostly moribund relic of a time when sexual attitudes were less liberal, superseded by tales of adults caught engaging in "unusual" (and formerly unmentionable) sexual practices which still have the power to shock or titillate some listeners.

Last updated:   16 June 2011

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Sources:

    1.   Brunvand, Jan Harold.   The Mexican Pet.
    New York: W. W. Norton, 1986.   ISBN 0-393-30542-2   (p. 201).

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   The Baby Train.
    New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.   ISBN 0-393-31208-9   (pp. 305-307).

    Zelkind, Andrew.   "Fun on Campus."
    News-Chronicle.   12 April 1986   (p. B3).

Also told in:

    The Big Book of Urban Legends.
    New York: Paradox Press, 1994.   ISBN 1-56389-165-4   (p. 203).