Mysteries of the suburbs

In everyday social discourse and, especially, on the Internet, we’ve seen an ever-growing number of Urban Legends, those friend-of-a-friend stories that everyone has heard, but no one can prove.

Such wild tales are torn from tabloid pages or dreamed up around campfires, and pretty soon a majority of oppressed Gullible-Americans believe alligators roam big-city sewers and the prosthetic hooks of madmen dangle from car doors all over the country.

You don’t hear so much about Suburban Legends. We’re quieter out here in the suburbs, kinda keep to ourselves, but many strange and fearsome myths emerge from the master suites and empty lawns of Outer Suburbia:

  • The neighborhood that’s haunted by the ghost of a persistent child, who rings doorbells and tries to sell band candy. The child will only go away if the homeowner takes a pre-paid order. Then the ghost is never seen again.
  • Clyde Farber, the Sasquatch of the Suburbs, an extremely hairy man in Westingtonshireham East, NJ, who insists on parading around the neighborhood without a shirt.
  • A family locked an annoying brother-in-law in the attic of an imitation saltbox in Delaware, then forgot he was up there. When the house was sold, years later, the new owners looked in the attic and found he was still up there, surviving on a diet of rainwater and pigeons.
  • Stanley Quismado, the man with the perfect lawn and the haunted look in his eyes.
  • At a certain house in the neighborhood lives a woman who vigorously exercises in the nude. Once in a while, she forgets to close the curtains. You have to check every day. (This one’s particular popular with 13-year-old boys.)
  • The wily camouflage of snow snakes.
  • The mysterious lawn workers who vanish whenever a Border Patrol vehicle passes by.
  • The many sleepless neighborhoods haunted by the shrieking wraiths of car alarms.
  • Suburban sewers are full of alligator wallets.
  • This man on the West Side loaned his Toyota minivan to his teen-aged daughter. Though she claimed there had been no accident, the next morning he found -- still attached to the axle -- a torn-off towing hook! Oo-ooh.
  • Mythical meter readers. You never see them, but you know they’re out there.
  • Brutus, the dog that ate meter readers.
  • In a planned community outside Phoenix, a freak accidental release of a chemical gas caused all the address numbers to rust and fall off in a single day. Because all the homes looked the same, whole families wandered around lost for weeks, until finally the Federal Emergency Management Agency rounded them up and shot them.
  • A suburban park that echoes with dribbling basketballs, even deep in the night when no one is around. Oo-ooh.
  • Strange but true: The people who deliver your mail do not like the term “going postal.” Trust me on this.
  • An Indiana man spent the night with a strange woman in his suburban home. When he awoke, he found written on the mirror in blood-red lipstick: “We’re out of milk.”
  • Prudence O’Shaughnessy, the quiet neighbor with 214 frenzied cats.
  • Scary: A leaky four-bedroom ranch-style house with a cracked foundation and a sinkhole in the lawn. A suburban fixer-upper at only $429,000.
  • Really Scary: The flight patterns of a major airport were permanently diverted over a suburb built on a drained swamp, and all the residents became the Zombies of Bankruptcy Court.
  • Scariest of all: The Creeping Sprawl. What happens when the whole planet is one big neighborhood? What if that neighborhood’s a slum? What’ll happen to my property values then? Oo-ooh.

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