I love a good urban legend. I especially love when an urban legend refuses to die, even though it’s been debunked a thousand times over. The internet has given rebirth to hundreds upon hundreds of legends that died back in the 80s. I know, because my mother sends me a dozen emails a day documenting these lies and rumors as truth.
A good urban legend starts off as something real, perhaps a mild little incident that took place in a small town. It’s like a game of telephone. One person says “there was a robbery” and before you know it, ten different neighbors are reporting they know someone who knows someone who saw the robbery and it wasn’t just a robbery, it was also a carjacking and by the end of the day four prisoners escaped from the jail, were thrown weapons from a helicopter rented by an accomplice, robbed a jewelry store/Carvel/florist/drug store, kidnapped a teacher, robbed a car with an FBI agent in it and a baby in the back seat, set a house on fire, killed a cop, started the war between Pakistan and India, fixed the 1918 World Series, stole the Stanley Cup and pissed in it, brought down the Roman Empire, dug up Jimmy Hoffa and shot both J.R. and Mr. Burns. This will all be recorded as fact because someone’s neighbor’s sister’s boyfriend’s gym teacher saw it happen.
And every Halloween, like clockwork, the legend of the Razor Apples makes its way to forwarded emails across the world. You would think at this point everyone would know the razor blade in the apple is just an urban legend, a story perhaps born out of something real but, like all legends and email forward stories, became a twisted version of the original. Bigger, badder, more menacing. Because what good is an urban legend if it’s not menacing?
So maybe somewhere along the line some kid back in the 70s did find a razor blade in his apple. Maybe it wasn’t even a razor blade. Maybe it was a really sharp seed or a dried up worm and he got scared and went home screaming and there was mass hysteria in the suburbs. The little game of rumor telephone starts and before you know it, an epidemic of razor apples hits the street and those apples multiply in Halloweens to come. You know what? There is not even one documented case of a kid finding a razor in an apple, but every Halloween there is some overprotective mother standing up at a PTA meeting saying, “We must hand out flyers warning parents of razor blades in apples and poisoned candy and sparkly vampires!”
Watch out for that lady. She’s the one that actually wants to find the blade in the apple. She’s the one who studies these urban legends like playbooks and hopes that one of them happens to her kid so she can be the talk of the town. A razor in an apple is a prize, a brass ring, a suburban legend that, if true, would propel the average Stepford housewife to new heights of fame.
I envision Mrs. Smith standing in front of her Ford Expedition in front of the gathering crowd of other fear mongering parents, holding the rusted razor blade aloft like Charlie holding his golden ticket. Her name would be splashed across the town weekly, her beaming smile belying the sick-to-her-stomach fear that some crazed madman was out there. Then she would entice the other housewives on the block into forming a posse of pony-tailed, mad mothers bearing pitchforks and torches, hell bent on finding out who put that razor blade in Billy’s Granny Smith. Nancy Grace herself would show up, her contorted face screaming into the camera “WHO IS TRYING TO KILL OUR TOTS?”
Of course, in the end it turns out that it was Mrs. Smith herself who stuck the razor blade in that apple, and it would become a sad social commentary on the boredom that befalls housewives in suburbia. 48 Hours airs a special on it and three days later, Mrs. Smith would check into a clinic to overcome her addiction to mother’s little helper.
But that’s not what anyone will remember. They will just remember the razor blade and the apple and come next Halloween when the media needs something to frighten the public with because lord knows the real news is just not tangible enough, they will remind parents to BEWARE THE RAZORED APPLE.
I’m expecting an email from my mother any minute.
Top photo by/CC Jackie on Flickr