Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]
One of the funniest "most-embarrassing-moment" stories I've come upon in a long time was about a lady who picked up several items at a discount store. When she finally got up to the checker, she learned that one of the items had no price tag. Imagine her embarrassment when the checker got on the intercom and boomed out for all the store to hear, "PRICE CHECK ON LANE THIRTEEN, TAMPAX, SUPERSIZE."
That was bad enough, but somebody at the rear of the store apparently misinterpreted the word "tampax" for "thumbtacks." In a business-like tone, a voice boomed back over the intercom. "DO YOU WANT THE KIND YOU PUSH IN WITH YOUR THUMB, OR THE KIND YOU POUND IN WITH A HAMMER?"
Origins: So strong is our societal taboo
The taboo extends not only to the unmentionable functions themselves, but also to ancillary products associated with them. There are still plenty of us who try to rush through the checkout line as quickly as possible and avoid making eye contact with the clerk when purchasing such common items as toilet paper (itself renamed by manufacturers to "bathroom tissue") and feminine hygiene products. The joke reproduced above (which has circulated on the Internet as part of a larger
The following joke incorporates a similar theme:
After baking several loaves of bread, a Cincinnati housewife told me, she ran out of wax paper. She went to the store, but the clerk misunderstood her request and brought her a roll of bathroom tissue. Noticing only one width of it, she asked, "Is this the widest you've got?" The clerk said, "Well, lady, what do you want to use it for?"
Barbara "wipe out" Mikkelson
Last updated: 19 March 2005
Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Choking Doberman. New York: W. W. Norton, 1984. ISBN 0-393-30321-7 (p. 138). Brunvand, Jan Harold. Too Good to Be True. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999. ISBN 0-393-04734-2 (pp. 155-156). Linkletter, Art. Oops! Or, Life's Awful Moments. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967 (pp. 79).