Claim: Don’t like your husband? A chain letter offers a way to trade up to something better.
Examples: [Collected via e-mail, November 2000]
This chain letter was started in hopes of bringing relief to other tired and discouraged women. Unlike most chain letters, this one does not cost anything. Just send a copy of this letter to five of your friends who are equally tired and discontented. Then bundle up your husband or boyfriend and send him to the woman whose name appears at the top of the list, and add your name to the bottom of the list. When your turn comes, you will receive
At the writing of this letter, a friend of mine had already received
Origins: A version of the preceding chain letter appeared in an Ann Landers column in 1996, but
the underlying joke had been around for a number of years prior to that: folklorists Dundes and Pagter collected a version of the same letter in 1968. Notice that the humor of the piece barely disguises womens’ supposed opinion of husbands: “A friend of mine had already received
Some versions contain lines that say of the friend who received
Male versions (offering relief for “tired businessmen” and promising those who mail off their wives will receive 16,740 women and “some of them will be dandies”) were around in the 1950s. The central theme of getting your own burden back if you break the chain has been used in other joke letters, too.
A 1956 joke book presented the following similar bit of workplace humor:
“Fellow slaves! This is a plan to bring happiness and steak dinners to tired government working girls. It won’t cost you a nickel. Simply send five copies of this letter to the girls as underprivileged and neglected as yourself. Then tie up your boss and send him to the girl on the top of the list. When your name reaches the top, you will receive 12,938 bosses. “Have faith! Don’t break the chain! The last girl who did got her own boss back!”
Overworked girls in the Pentagon Building are circulating chain letters of their own:
“Fellow slaves! This is a plan to bring happiness and steak dinners to tired government working girls. It won’t cost you a nickel. Simply send five copies of this letter to the girls as underprivileged and neglected as yourself. Then tie up your boss and send him to the girl on the top of the list. When your name reaches the top, you will receive 12,938 bosses.
“Have faith! Don’t break the chain! The last girl who did got her own boss back!”
Barbara “doing the boss a’nova” Mikkelson
Last updated: 26 December 2008
Cerf, Bennett. The Life of the Party. Garden City, NY: Hanover House, 1956 (p. 154). Dundes, Alan and Carl Pagter. >Urban Folklore From the Paperwork Empire. Austin: American Folklore Society, 1975. ISBN 0-292-78502-X. (pp. 7-8). Landers, Ann. “Ann Landers.” 26 August 1996 [syndicated column].
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