Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
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Legend: A man brings the minister from his church home for dinner after spending Saturday afternoon helping him do some yardwork around the churchyard. Upon arriving at the house, he invites the minister to use the shower in the upstairs bathroom to clean up. The man's wife, unaware of the minister's presence in the house, hears the shower running; she enters the bathroom, reaches through the shower curtain, and tugs on the minister's penis, saying, "Ding, dong, dinner bell!" The wife then walks downstairs and faints when she encounters her husband watching TV in the living room.
Origins: This is a milder variant of the "Surprise Party" legends, in which a married woman's sexual overeagerness leads to an embarrassing rebuke. The presence of a minister (rather than a neighborhood friend, for example) in the shower indicates that religion is the basis of the woman's moral censure. Later versions of the legend replace the minister with secular figures, removing the legend's moral overtones and casting the story more as a humorous anecdote or a joke.
A 1964 book of reminiscences by Hollywood publicist Art Moger recounts the same tale about an actress and her husband's tennis partner:
Running into the bathroom, she put her hand through the shower curtain and grabbed.Moger is careful to identify this story as "my favorite yarn," making it clear he was neither present for the event, nor did he get it straight from one of the parties involved. Clearly though, the legend was in circulation in 1964, even if the minister was not yet worked into the story.
"Ding dong, daddy!" she chirped. "Supper's ready!"
There was a gasp of not complete dismay. Giggling happily she started downstairs and met her husband coming up!
Last updated: 9 July 2007
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