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Gerbilling Mishap Injures Two

Netlore Archive: Viral 'news story' claims two people were injured in gerbilling mishap (another insult to the reputation of gerbils everywhere).

Description: Viral joke / Urban legend
Circulating since: 1993 or so
Status: False (see details below)

Email text contributed by a reader in 1997:

Direct from the LA Times:

"In retrospect, lighting the match was my big mistake. But I was only trying to retrieve the gerbil," Eric Tomaszewski told bemused doctors in the Severe Burns Unit of Salt Lake City Hospital. Tomaszewski, and his homosexual partner Andrew "Kiki" Farnum, had been admitted for emergency treatment after a felching session had gone seriously wrong.

"I pushed a cardboard tube up his rectum and slipped Raggot, our gerbil, in," he explained. "As usual, Kiki shouted out 'Armageddon', my cue that he'd had enough. I tried to retrieve Raggot but he wouldn't come out again,so I peered into the tube and struck a match, thinking the light might attract him."

At a hushed press conference, a hospital spokesman described what happened next. "The match ignited a pocket of intestinal gas and a flame shot out the tubing, igniting Mr Tomaszewski's hair and severely burning his face. It also set fire to the gerbil's fur and whiskers which in turn ignited a larger pocket of gas further up the intestine, propelling the rodent out like a cannonball."

Tomaszewski suffered second degree burns and a broken nose from the impact of the gerbil, while Farnum suffered first and second degree burns to his anus and lower intestinal tract.

Analysis: Despite being attributed to the Los Angeles Times, the "news story" above is anything but news. Nothing of the kind ever appeared in the LA Times, or any other newspaper for that matter. Any editor worth his or her salt would instantly recognize it for what it is — a joke (more specifically, a joke bordering on an urban legend because it's alleged to be true). Variants of the story can be found in message board postings dating back to 1993.

Note that the term "felching" is used in reference to the particular sexual activity that takes place in this story. This isn't the time or place to provide a clinically correct definition of the term, but it behooves me to inform those unfamiliar with it that in this instance the word has been, um, sorely misused.

For further discussion of "gerbilling" myths, including my own cranky reflections on the genre, see "Richard Gere and the Gerbil."


Variants of 'Gerbilling Mishap'
From About.com's Netlore Archive

A Light at the End of the Tunnel
A similarly anally-fixated Internet urban legend

Current Hoaxes / Netlore
The Urban Legends Top 25

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