Example: [Collected via e-mail, December 2009]
One evening, he goes to his work space and after giving him a few minutes, the wife dresses in a sexy outfit and ambles in. The husband, not knowing his wife is on to his outside activities, is pleasantly surprised when she comes over and rubs up against him. She proceeds to sexually tease him until he removes all his clothes. Without warning, she grabs his manhood and tightens a vise around it, then removes the handle of the vise and throws it aside.
"You no-good cheat," she hisses, picking up a hacksaw. "I can't believe you've been banging all those floozies." She brings her hand with the hacksaw in it to within an inch of his reproductive organ.
The terrified husband looks at her and whimpers, "You're not going to cut it off, are you?!"
The wife picks up two cans of gasoline and a book of matches. She hands him the hacksaw as she walks towards the door. "No," she says. "You are. I'm going to set the garage on fire."
Origins: This legend of revenge over sexual impropriety speaks to a desire common among those who have
Our oldest Internet sighting of the tale is a 1999 post in the USENET group alt.jokes. In that telling, an irate husband treats the man he found in bed with his wife with the vise, hacksaw, and burn down the garage routine. Yet the "wife punishes philandering husband" version has been around almost as long; we've found Internet sightings of that positioning of the tale dating to 2000.
In his Rationale of the Dirty Joke, Gershon Legman hypothesized (but was unable to confirm) a much older origin for this tale while offering a version from a book published in 1966:
This legend about marital infidelity revenged is somewhat unusual in that the punishment zeros in on the body part that committed the crime. In most other vengeance stories, the wronged party gets back at the cheater via financial upset (e.g., leaving the cheater's phone connected to a number in Tokyo for a few weeks, selling his beloved Porsche for a pittance, ruining his new home by way of sewing shrimp into his curtains) or embarrassment (e.g., making sure everyone attending the wedding hears the down and dirty on the cheating bride or groom, taking the adulterer and his paramour for a ride in the family RV before parking the vehicle in such a way that they can't escape without assistance). Yet in this comeuppance tale (whose only counterpart is the superglued penis legend), the actual offending appendage is targeted for retribution. Moreover, just as it was the cheater's decision to stray, so it is left up to him to choose between being a eunuch or a cinder.
Barbara "roast turkey or the trimmings" Mikkelson
Last updated: 19 February 2011