Friday, July 01, 2005

Urban legends

I was reading stuff on the Snopes site today, and this reminded me of how you get the same urban legends all over the world, but with local flavour (Mmm, new instant noodles now with...local flavour!) Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, eh?

Here's one I remember my Mum telling me about the Phillipines:

Apparently there's a huge department store in Manila that's been owned by the same family for decades. They're incredibly rich and have lavish lifestyles, but they have a horrible secret [
can you see where this is going?]; one of the sons in this family was born horribly deformed and he's kept locked up somewhere. Some of the women's fitting rooms are actually rigged with a fake wall, and while they're trying on clothes these walls open up and the hapless women are whisked away to feed his gruesome appetites, never to be seen again [what, they're so rich they can't buy sexual favours like normal rich bastards?].

And then in the country I grew up in, whenever any big construction projects are going on single women and young people are told to stay indoors, because superstitious builders believe that foundations will only hold firm if people are buried underneath them. Bridges are especially bad because you need someone for each post.

There's also the local vampire or
pontianak who appears as a beautiful girl with long flowing black hair dressed in white, often accompanied by a strong smell of frangipani or jasmine. They only prey on men, but what exactly they do to these men has never been elaborated on [are they forced to go curtain shopping at Ikea? The horror! The horror!] Apparently though, if you're a little desperate and want to find yourself a sexy female slave, word on the street is, you can trap these ladies in mortal form. There's a little hole on the back of their necks, and if you carry an iron nail around with you and you're fast enough to insert this nail into the hole, they'll become mortal and be your docile love slave. To which I say, good grief, if you're desperate enough to risk death at the hands of a vengeful she-demon to get a bit of nookie, why not just propose marriage to Rose Hancock? Eh?

I don't know if this story has a happily-ever-after. Follow-up stories have someone accidentally removing the nail and either watching the pontianak crumble into a pile of dust, or turning on the man who enslaved them and dealing him a horrible death.

Ooh, I've just remembered another one called the penanggal.
It's a woman who's made a pact with the devil, looks normal during the day, but at night her head detaches from her body and flies around with her entrails dangling behind her, looking for pregnant women and young children (mainly firstborns) so that she can feast on their blood.

Apparently they enter through the floorboards so the main way to deter them is to have spiky plants underneath the house (ref: the Queenslander house-on-stilts style of architecture) or to sleep with a knife under the pillow.

There's also a little demon some witch-doctors keep in a bottle made from bits of dead baby that they've robbed from graves.

Hmm, I'm starting to creep myself out. And I'm house-sitting this week. Doh!

PS. I hate clowns. They're evil at worst, and pathetic at best. Just thought I'd throw that in. Nicky used to have a clown doll that laughed when you pulled the cord hanging out of its back. Ye gads that thing was creepy.