USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘friend-of-a-friend’
Legends
Narrative

Ice Cream Cone in the Purse

Informant: My friend told me this one. Do you know who Paul Newman was? He’s before your time, isn’t he? He was an actor. His face is on those—he has a pasta sauce brand, I think. He was very handsome and popular. He’s dead now. But anyway, my friend told me—this was years ago—that this woman was in Connecticut, and she went to one of the ice cream parlors in town. So she walks into the ice cream parlor, and there are only two people there—the clerk, and, sitting at the bar, Paul Newman. So the woman decides to play it cool, you know, act unimpressed and give Paul Newman his privacy. So she ignores him while she orders her ice cream and pays. Well, she gets back out to her car and she realizes she’s only got her change in her hand, so she figures she left her ice cream cone on the counter inside. She goes back in, and—and Paul Newman turns around and says, “You put it in your purse.”

The informant (my grandmother) was born and raised in Texas. She spent many years moving from place to place across the world with her husband, a banker, before settling in Connecticut long enough to work as an English teacher at the Greenwich Country Day School. She currently lives in San Francisco, CA.

I discovered a similar story in an online collection of modern urban legends. That version has Jack Nicholson (another popular actor) in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor in Massachusetts in 1986. Other versions of the story feature different actors, leading me to believe that this ice cream parlor legend is most definitely an example of an urban legend passed down as a FOF (friend of a friend) story; my grandmother maintains that her friend says it really did happen to a woman she knows.

The appeal of this urban legend may come from our ability to relate to the unspecified woman, who could be any one of us. She attempts to “play it cool” in front of a celebrity (Paul Newman is interchangeable; any popular and attractive actor would achieve the desired effect, and I assume the featured celebrity changes over time according to trends) only to be so distracted by her own attempts to ignore said celebrity that she embarrasses herself. We find amusement in this story because we can cringe for the woman, even though we ourselves are safe from embarrassment in front of a handsome and popular actor.

Citation: “The Ice Cream Cone in the Purse.” Tall Tales, Legends and Lies. NetPlaces, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

Legends
Narrative

La Llorona

“I don’t remember the details, but it’s this mother, in the myth, and her children drowned… or something like that, and then she died somehow. Anyway, this woman ended up dead and her children were drowned, so there was this link between La Llorona and the water… um… so the myth, the myth was that children were warned not to go out at night near pools of water because La Llorona would come to them and drown them and the key was that if you heard this woman crying and you were like, ‘ah, where are my children?’ or something spooky like that… if you heard it really close, that meant she was far away, but if you heard it really far away, that meant she was close, or something…

“My teacher told me the story that her grandfather told her, that one day, he decided to run away from home, or something like that, and it was nighttime, and he was somewhere in which this myth applied, and um… I guess he was… I always imagined he was by one of those pools, those, um… not inflatable pools, but like those gigantic ones that would stand and you would put water in them and they were really popular in, like, the 90s. I always imagined it like that, but it seemed to be some sort of water tower, some public means of storing water, and he was by it because he was thirsty and whatever, and he heard this crying, and he was by water, and he was a child, and he heard this crying, but it sounded far away, and he kind of… I don’t remember if he saw it, but he just, I think he looked into the water and he kind of saw over his—oh I think her eyes bled or something, something spooky, I think her eyes were bleeding—anyway, he looked into the water and he went, like, ‘AHHH! Jesus!’ and then he ran away, and he’s still here obviously because my teacher is still here.”

 

The informant was told this version of La Llorona in her 7th grade, Spanish class, which was dedicated to the study of Mexican culture on Fridays. La Llorona means the crier or the one who cries. After the recounting of the story about her teacher’s grandfather, she was asked by her teacher to illustrate the La Llorona tale.

The informant said the stories that stick with her most are ghost stories, which might be related to how her cousins told her that you can only see ghosts if you believe in them. She believed ghosts seemed like a neat proposal because it would mean that it’s possible to have life after death, but she also worried that it would be the a sort of half-life in which you would be stuck forever (where people would see you, but not come to know or understand you). She liked hearing these types of stories because she liked to draw frightening images as a child even though the stories themselves scared her. She also mentioned she was glad she did not live where the story applied, which is an interesting proposal because it implies that certain folklore only affect certain people from which it (supposedly) originated from.

What is most interesting about this telling of La Llorona is not the story itself (which is even incomplete), but the personal narrative that follows , which functions as a friend-of-a-friend legend. That part, tacked onto the first, more well known, part in a way, validates the original tale. The combination of the popular and the personal brings a big tale back to a human level and keeps it spreading.

 

For another telling of La Llorona, see:

http://www.literacynet.org/lp/hperspectives/llorona.html

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