Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: The location of a missing gravy ladle proves hanky panky is going on.
Example: [Collected via -email, 1998]
As to how old the joke itself is, a recognizable (and more innocent) version presenting the revelation that a blushing bride is actually sleeping with her husband (instead of remaining chaste) after the wedding shows up in a joke book from 1951:
June (a bride) was showing her uncle over their new home.The theme is much a older one, though, for the 'item hidden in a houseguest's bed reveals midnight hanky panky' tale turns up in collections of the Ingoldsby legends dating from 1840. In "Nell Cook," a canon's love-struck cook sets out to determine where the "niece" is spending her nights. She leaves poker and tongs in the girl's bed, where they lay undiscovered for six weeks. Nell takes her revenge on her errant man and his paramour by feeding them a poisoned
"This is my room, uncle! You see we have twin beds, they are so much more hygenic. That's Harold's, this is mine."
Then uncle noticed a blue china clock on the mantel and remarked: "What a very charming clock."
"Yes," said June, "it's a wedding present from dear grandma."
A few weeks later uncle received a note from June telling how the blue clock had disappeared the very afternoon he was there; could he throw any light on it?
Uncle replied: "Dear June, look in Harold's bed."
The modern tale can be adapted to anyone. In one version set in the Gulf War, General Norman Schwartzkopf guides reporters on a tour of his quarters, making much of his sleeping in a cot in a tent like any of the grunts under his command. A fine dinner is thrown for the newshounds afterwards, from which a valuable table setting goes missing. Each of the reporters receives the "I'm not
Pure and simple, this is a tale about being caught in a lie. A lad can't hide his sex life from his mother, a man of the cloth can't enjoy carnal relations with his housekeeper without being found out, and a general can't pull the wool over the trusting public's eyes. Or at least so says the legend.
Barbara "undercover agent" Mikkelson
Last updated: 5 March 2006
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