The Importance of Wearing Underwear in Public
By David Emery, About.com Guide
Netlore Archive: Variant of a classic urban legend in which a woman mistakes the man making repairs underneath the family car for her husband - and gives him the surprise of his life.
Description: Urban legend
Circulating since: Nov. 2001 (this version)
Status: False (see details below)
Email text contributed by C. Bivens, March 5, 2002:
Subject: THE VALUE OF UNDIES
Here's your weekly safety brief:
Be careful what you wear (or don't wear), when working under your vehicle...especially in public.
From the NORTHWEST FLORIDA Daily News comes this story of a Crestview couple who drove their car to Wal-Mart, only to have their car break down in the parking lot. The man told his wife to carry on with the shopping while he fixed the car in the lot.
The wife returned later to see a small group of people near the car. On closer inspection, she saw a pair of male legs protruding from under the chassis. Although the man was in shorts, his lack of underpants turned private parts into glaringly public ones.
Unable to stand the embarrassment, she dutifully stepped forward, quickly put her hand UP his shorts, and tucked everything back into place. On regaining her feet, she looked across the hood and found herself staring at her husband who was standing idly by.
The mechanic, however, had to have three stitches in his head.
Analysis: This is a zipperless variant of a very old legend ("possibly existing as long as zippers have been used on men's pants flies," says folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand) known by the title "The Unzipped Mechanic" (or "The Unzipped Plumber").
As the story more commonly goes, a wife returns home from a shopping trip to find a man she assumes is her husband working under the family automobile (or sink). She can only see the lower half of his torso, of course. In a playful mood, she unzips his fly and strokes him teasingly. When she walks into the living room a short while later, whom should she find sitting in front of the TV but her husband! "I couldn't fix the damn thing myself," he explains, "so I called a mechanic [plumber]." Meanwhile, the poor workman is lying unconscious where she left him, having banged his head sitting bolt upright when she fondled him.
Variants of the tale have shown up in newspapers as filler items from time to time, but as yet I haven't been able to determine whether anything of the kind was actually published in the Northwest Florida Daily News (this same text with minor revisions has also been attributed to the Sydney Morning Herald and other newspapers).
See also: "Halloween Surprise," another tale of mistaken identity leading to sexual embarrassment.
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Sources and further reading:
Too Good to Be True
By Jan Harold Brunvand (W.W. Norton: 1999)
Last updated: 10/14/11