Author Archives: Lauryn Soorani

The orange juice guy

“Apparently there’s a friend of a friend of a friend—it’s always a friend of a friend—I heard from this guy whose friend’s friend heard this—blablabla. It’s about this guy who did so much acid that now he’s in a mental institute and thinks that he is a tall glass or orange juice and he’s afraid of tipping over and he just stands there with his hands out because he’s scared of tipping over because he doesn’t want to spill.”

This story that my informant told me was one that she heard back in high school. It’s the classic cautionary tale (or “scarelore”) against doing drugs. “Don’t do acid kids because… orange juice guy.”

This legend is particularly haunting because unlike anti-drug cautionary tales that flat out tell you that you are going to die if you so much as touch drugs, this talks about the permanent psychological damage an overdose can do. To some, this may be considered a fate worse than death.

She spoke about it as if there was SOMEONE who knew this kid–as if it did happen sometime during her high school years. Out of my own curiosity I looked up this particular piece of lore and to my surprise, this legend has been circulating since the 1960’s. It varied from a guy who thinks he is an orange and thus decides that he has to peel himself and as a result peels off all of his clothes, to the one she described in which he thinks he is a glass or orange juice and is scared someone will tip him over or drink him.

I tracked the references of the orange juice guy back to a 1966 Los Angeles Times article by George Reasons that talks about the views doctors and scientists had about what had become an incredibly popular drug at the time. “Serious scientists, on the other hand, are alarmed by the spread in popular use and fearful LSD could be another thaldomide with hidden side effects capable of deforming a generation.” Various examples were given of youths who had bad reactions to the drug, and the account of orange juice guy was amongst these.

“One involves a heavy user who is convinced he is an orange. He won’t allow anyone to touch him for fear he will turn into orange juice.”

However, no actual name is given to orange juice guy, nor does the author of this article state what hospital he is in (if any) or where he even got his information. Thus, as is the nature of most legends, we can not be sure if this story is actually true, or if it was just created to scare a generation out of doing LSD.


Reasons, George. Los Angeles Times “LSD Ties With Happiness Declared Hokum” July 12, 1966

Erik the Red

The following story told to me by my informant is a legend involving Erik the Red. She first heard this story around the age of 8-9.

“One of my favorite stories when I was a kid—I believe it was about Erik The Red—a Viking warlord… chief… I don’t know what you call it. A Viking leader. And one of these… he was leading this war party and one of his soldiers decided he didn’t like Erik being the leader anymore. He said Erik was weak and stupid and was not fit to lead the party. So they decided to have a contest between the two of them. And Erik said, I can fire my arrow through an oak tree and so the challenger walked up and buried his arrow deep deep into this giant oak tree. Erik fired his arrow and it went straight through an acorn and he said, he got it straight through the tree! The next challenge was to see who had the most courage. Because they just tried strength and now they tested courage. Eric thrust his arm into a fire until his arm hair started to curl and then he pulled it out. The challenger went in, stuck his arm into the fire until his arm hair started to curl and then he left it in longer and longer until his entire arm was burned and then he finally pulled it out. Erik turned to his men and said “who would you rather have, the man who is smart enough to shoot through a tree, or the man whose “courage” has left him crippled?” Erik the red continued being the leader and continued being a fantastic leader.”

This is a tale of brawns vs brains, and as my informant explained to me, she loves it specifically for this reason. It teaches that you don’t necessarily have to be the strongest or even the bravest to be a great leader, what is important is your intelligence and wit because these are things that can beat strength and bravery. Though Erik wasn’t the classic under-dog, this is still an encouraging story for “the little guy” who may feel inferior because they do not match up to the physical strength and size of their peers. Not only did Erik’s challenger get bested by Erik’s wit and intelligence, but his refusal to appear weak crippled him in the end.


Sí houses

In traditional Irish folklore, there are countless tales of encounters with the Sí, or the fairy folk. The story my informant told me is a very common one. It generally involves a person who is walking home late at night and decides to take a shortcut. They find themselves in an area they are unfamiliar with and come across a house or some sort of game or activity. In most tales it’s a large house with the light on. The traveler sees the house and thinks to themselves “great, I’ll stop in and say hello”. Upon entering the house they are greeted warmly and encouraged to eat and drink with the inhabitants. However, once you start eating and drinking with them, you can’t escape. What they have stumbled upon is what is called a fairy house or a Sí house.

In some cases the traveler is able to figure out what is happening before they eat or drink anything given to them. This is either because they know the stories, or as is sometimes the case, they see someone who has already died at the party. Those who know enough to escape come back the next day to find nothing left but a pile of old rocks.

My informant explained that in the old days, it was the common belief that when you died, you went to the otherworld which is inhabited by the Sí. So perhaps, going to a Sí house is where you go when you die. For those who escape the Sí house it could be seen as a choice between living or dying–whether or not you want to stay with them. It is a tempting decision because it is presented as a great and wonderful party filled with merriment–in that sense death doesn’t really look all that bad.

When I was a ghost

The following ghost story was told to my informant by a friend of his. It is the story of when his friend was a ghost.

“I was asking him if he knew any good Irish ghost stories and he said “oh you mean like when I was a ghost” and I said “oh yeah well that sounds interesting, tell me” and so he was in the university and he had just decided to go home one weekend up in Donegal which is a ways away from Dublin, and so he was hitching, hitch hiking across, and he got this ride uh with this uh guy on a motorcycle, but they got into a wreck and he got thrown off the motorcycle and hit his head and went unconscious for a little while. Ya know, he woke up, everything was fine and he didn’t really say anything about it and he hitched the rest of the way home and he showed up at home and his sister ran up to the door and she was all worried and she said “you’re okay, you’re alive!” and he’s like “uh yeah why” and she said “well because uh, ya know I came down earlier and there was this vision of you just standing at the front porch but you, you weren’t talking, you weren’t saying anything, and then you disappeared. And then he figured out when she had seen that was when he had been knocked unconscious.”

In western tradition, this instance would be explained as an out of body experience–one can attribute the difference in definition to the fact that to be a ghost in Western tradition, you have to be dead. However in Irish tradition, the ghost, or “tannasg” can also mean apparition. Thus like the individual in this story, you can exist as a ghost while still being alive.

The Banshee

This story was collected by my informant from a man he was talking to in Dublin who said that he had encountered the banshee first hand. The banshee is one of the Irish Si spirits who whose wail is a signifier to whoever hears it that someone in their family, or perhaps even they themselves are about to die. Her wail is reminiscent of old-time funeral wails, but because, as my informant explained,“there is something slippery about time for the banshee”, rather than wailing at the funeral as was customary, she wails before the death even happens.

“Ban” means woman in Gaelic and “shee” means one of the Si spirits–the ancestral spirits associated with the megalithic mounds. Thus, encounters with the Si spirits or the Banshee usually occur around the megalithic mounds. My informant explained that there are multiple banshees. Sometimes there are regional ones and sometimes there will be one that follows certain families around.

“I remember one time I was in Dublin I was talking to this guy who was the husband of Elane Hulanon, who was a professor at Trinity, and I was talking to him about the banshee and he said “oh yeah, one time I heard the banshee” so he was telling me that one time he had heard the banshee and um, and in a rural area, and sure enough when he found out that sure enough, I forget who it was, I think it was his uncle who had just passed away. So I thought it was kind of interesting cause it was like totally classic banshee story but told by a very educated person. And he firmly believed in it because he said he had experienced it. I don’t remember the whole story but he did say that the classic thing that he was walking and he heard the banshee wail which is the classic way that you encounter her, and he was sure that’s what it was, he got really worried and he went back and um, then he found out that his uncle had just passed away. It was kind of cool because it’s still going on in Ireland and he believed in the banshee because he had experienced it.”

The belief of banshees is still around today in Ireland, and as my informant explained in this particular case, belief in the banshee is not limited to uneducated individuals as one might assume. My informant explained the a lot of individuals in Ireland don’t necessarily believe in the Si spirits, but they don’t disbelieve in them either.


  • The Real Ghostbusters “Banshee Bake a Cherry Pie?” Season 2, episode 34. Air date: 10/28/1987. In this episode of The Real Ghostbusters a banshee is masquerading as an Irish pop-singer and is attempting to use her voice to take over the world.
  • J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, July 8, 1999. When being taught how to fight boggarts (a mythical creature that can imitate whatever you are scared of), a boggart imitates a banshee when being fought by the Irish character, Seamus Finnegan.