The Green Ribbon


My informant, from Fresno California, told me a scary story she heard as a kid.

“This is kind of like a ghost story. There was once a woman, right? And a man. And they entered into a relationship. And things were going really well between them. Things were going great. They were going on these little dates, you know? But the thing is, she always wore this little green ribbon around her neck. Right? And he’d be like, ‘Why do you wear that?’ and she’d be like ‘Don’t worry about it’. So he’s like ‘okay…’

“So they continue on having their relationship. They get married. They have many children. The children grow up. They go to college. They’re very successful. 

“And their relationship continues, and he’s like ‘Hey, you still haven’t taken off that green ribbon, it must be pretty dirty under there. You even shower with it on.’ She’s like ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s, you know, a fashion choice or whatever.’

“And then the years go on, they’re in retirement, they’re playing golf together, everything’s great. But still. He’s like “Hey, we’re like 80. And you still haven’t taken off that green ribbon. And it must be dingy by now, but it’s, like, in good quality’ And she’s like ‘Ah, you know, I just like wearing it, I guess.’

“And then she starts to get really sick. And it’s really sad. She’s bedridden. And he’s tending to her. And the doctor comes out to him from the bedroom, cause it’s like the doctor that visits the house. And he says to the husband, ‘Look, she has like 5 minutes.’ And he’s like ‘Oh, damn, okay.’  So he goes inside. He’s like ‘You know, I gotta ask you, in our final moments… First, I love you, but also, why are you wearing that thing?? Still? You’re dying!’ She’s like ‘all right. I’ll show you, okay?’ So she pulls off her green ribbon, and her head topples off. And that’s the end of the story.”


“I think I first heard that like in elementary school, I think around Halloween, one of the teachers told us that one. I’ve told it maybe a few times, I think I also told it in Highschool, it was around Halloween, and in my English class my teacher was like ‘hey, does anyone have any ghost stories?’ I think I used that one.”


The informant took her time with the story, and was constantly checking in to see if I was still along for the ride. She also injected comedy whenever she could to try and keep it engaging. I think this approach is the result of telling this story in a larger setting, with many distractions (i.e., a classroom to other students.) This story has a ritual element to when it can be told: It’s a scary story, so it is told at Halloween, particularly at school.