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Legend: Naked housewife wearing only a football helmet encounters the meter reader.
[Ann Landers, 1992]
Dear Ann Landers: I've been following with interest the responses from women who want to assure "Lady Godiva" that she isn't the only woman in America who enjoys doing her housework in the nude.
I wonder if she happened to see the item in the paper about the Ohio housewife who was doing her laundry in the basement and impulsively decided to take off her soiled housedress and toss it into the machine. She had just set her hair in rollers, and the pipes overhead were leaking. She spotted her son's football helmet in the corner and put it on her head. There she stood, stark naked, except for the football helmet. At that moment, she heard a cough.
The woman turned around and found herself staring into the face of the meter reader from the gas and electric company.
Startled and embarrassed, the man had only one comment: "I hope your team wins, lady."
[Collected on the Internet, 1999]
A housewife is doing the laundry. Her washer and dryer are located in the basement of her family's home. She takes a basketful of dirty laundry to the basement to put in the washer, and decides to strip off her own clothing to add it to the load. She then removes a load of clean laundry from the dryer, puts it in the basket, and is about to walk up the basement steps with it, when she notices that her son has left his football helmet on the steps. She picks up the helmet to take it to his room, but, having no other place to put it with both arms holding the laundry basket, she plunks it on her head. At that moment the outside basement door opens: it is the meterman who has come to read the meters, also located in the basement. The housewife drops the basket, and stands exposed in the sunlight streaming in through the open doorway. The meterman gulps, and says, "I sure hope your team wins, lady."
Origins: Some old tales never lose their charm,
which is certainly the case with this one. Our "naked housewife" legend dates to 1961 at least, when a less
salacious version appeared in the pages of Reader's Digest (featuring a housewife clad in a raccoon coat). Ann Landers included it in her 1966 Family Laugh Lines and has run it in her column numerous times.
- Why the stripped-down housewife dons her son's football helmet varies:
- She's decided to take a whack at spider webs found down in the cellar and doesn't want to risk getting them in her hair.
- She puts it on to protect her hair from water dripping from an overhead pipe.
- She is returning it to her son's room.
- Just a whim.
- Who catches sight of her changes, depending on who is doing the telling: the meter reader, the gas man, the plumber, and the mailman have each been flashed in different versions of this story.
- The one caught doing housework in the nude is always a woman, while the one who catches an eyeful is always a man.
- The story's punchline is sometimes given as: "Dunno what your game is, lady, but I sure hope your team wins!"
This legend is similar in form to a related tale about another naked housewife and her unsuccessful attempts to hide from the milkman.
Over the years, letters to Dear Abby and Ann Landers have convinced us that at least some domestic goddesses prefer performing their duties in the nude. For those inclined to this state of undress, Ann recommends wearing an apron while frying bacon.
Barbara "else you'll be wailing like a banned she" Mikkelson
Sightings: For many, their first encounter with this legend came from reading Erma Bombeck's 1979 work, Aunt Erma's Cope Book.
Last updated: 27 December 2004
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- Esquire. November 1970 (pp. 44-50).
- Brunvand, Jan Harold. Curses! Broiled Again!
- New York: W. W. Norton, 1989. ISBN 0-393-30711-5 (p. 15).
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- Landers, Ann. "Ann Landers."
- 17 December 1992 [syndicated column].
- Scott, Bill. Pelicans & Chihuahuas and Other Urban Legends.
- St. Lucia, Queensland: Univ. of Queensland, 1996. ISBN 0-7022-2774-9 (pp. 154-155).
; Also told in:
- The Big Book of Urban Legends.
- New York: Paradox Press, 1994. ISBN 1-56389-165-4 (p. 139).