Claim: After a young man slips his date an aphrodisiac and leaves her alone in the car, he returns to find that she has impaled herself on the stick shift handle in a sexual frenzy.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 1995]
A friend at work says that when she was in high school a story circulated about a boy who wanted to sleep with his girlfriend, but she was unwilling. After he complained to his friends about this state of affairs, someone suggested he try Spanish fly. He agrees and gets some.
They go to a
- Where the boy takes his date varies: usually either a
drive-inmovie or parking at some secluded spot.
- The reason why the boy leaves his date alone for a few minutes also varies: generally either to go to the bathroom or to visit to the drive-in's snack bar.
- Sometimes one (or both) of the participants is a well-known community member.
legend that Spanish fly (or cantharides, a substance made from dried beetle remains) is a powerful aphrodisiac has been around for hundreds of years. The substance irritates the urogenital tract and produces an itching sensation in sensitive membranes, a feeling that allegedly increases a woman's desire for intercourse. No medical or scientific test has ever shown Spanish fly to be deserving of its reputation as an aphrodisiac, however, and its indiscriminate use can result in serious medical problems.
The legend of the girl and the gearshift lever has been circulating since at least the early 1950s, and has probably been in existence as long as automobiles have been around. The legend combines the male fantasy of a "love potion" that turns any female into a willing sexual partner with a sort of medical "sorcerer's apprentice" horror story about the perils of the uninitiated attempting to cast powerful spells they can't control. Perhaps the latter point plays on the adolescent male fear of the (perceived) strength and irrationality of the female sex drive; the idea that even a "nice" girl is really a ravening sexual beast just waiting to be awakened, and that if you do arouse this primal lust, it will be more than you can handle. (Female hypersexuality is a common feature of adolescent sex legends.) There may also an element of the sexist "cain't leave 'em alone fer a minute" in the fact that the boy leaves, then comes back to find his girlfriend sexually active. The unfortunate young man then experiences the ultimate American male nightmare: being cuckolded by his own automobile.
Last updated: 22 March 2011
Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Choking Doberman. New York: W. W. Norton, 1984. ISBN 0-393-30321-7 (pp. 133-134). Brunvand, Jan Harold. Too Good To Be True. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999. ISBN 0-393-04734-2 (pp. 123-124). Nordenberg, Tamar. "The Facts About Aphrodisiacs." FDA Consumer. January 1996 (p. 10). Reuben, David. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex. New York: David McKay Company, 1970 (p. 73). Rodgers, Joann. "The Enduring Myth of Aphrodisiacs." The Los Angeles Times. 14 December 1987 (p. B4).