Terrifying Urban LegendsCrime Countdown
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- 15 Feb 2021
Truth or twisted fiction, these stories are so hauntingly good, they’ve lasted for generations. Ash and Alaina revisit the most terrifying urban legends that blur lines between what’s real and what's just a scary story.
There's a theory about the illusion of truth, basically, if you hear something enough times, it becomes true, at least in your mind. There's also a theory about the telephone game where the details of a story change the further it gets from the original truth. The marriage of these two ideas is what makes urban legends, well, legendary.
They're repeated over and over in a never ending game of telephone, blurring our belief of what's actually based in truth and what's just a scary story will tell kids so they behave. Today, we're counting down the most terrifying urban legends, truth or twisted fiction. These stories are so hauntingly good. They've lasted for generations and we kind of love them.
Hailu Weirdo's, welcome to Crime Countdown, a Spotify original from Park asked, I'm Ash and I'm Every Week will highlight ten fascinating stories of history's most engaging and unsettling crimes, all picked by the podcast Research Gods.
This episode, we're counting down the top ten most terrifying urban legends.
I love urban legends. I also love the movie Urban Legend. So good. It was Jared Leto. Finest moment, in my humble opinion. Don't ask me about it, but for real.
Urban legends have always fascinated me ever since I was little. I love a good urban legend too. I actually still remember the first time that you showed me the Urban Legend movie. Yes, and I was terrified. Such a good movie.
Probably like twelve. Oh, so good. I also remember the first time you showed me those scary stories to tell in the dark.
Yeah, those are like OG Urban Legends.
I was just thinking of those books. I still have them sitting on my shelf right now. You sure do.
Yeah. And I literally cannot wait for my kids to be old enough to read them. My God.
Urban legends I think are just terrifying in general, no matter what they are sausage or Harald's, because, you know, they originate from somewhere, even if it's been like exaggerated along the way.
You know that there's some origin there.
Oh, yeah, something happened. They live in my brain free because two of the scariest urban legends that I always think about, especially when I'm getting in the car. Oh, I know the person hiding in your back seat.
And now I drive an SUV. So I'm like, oh, crap. Like too many places to hide, way too many places to have.
And my car now has like these smart high beams. And that's another urban legend that terrifies me, like flashing your high beams at a car that has them off. It's true. Then you're going to get chased down and killed. Another reason never to help someone. Yeah. And another reason why I don't make my lights automatic.
Yeah, those ones are way too real. I always look in my back seat.
I literally go around my car looking at the trunk. I look everywhere while Allena has five of her own scary stories and so do I. But neither of us knows who will not be sleeping tonight. Let's start the countdown. Greece is the personal untold story of FBI agent Clarice Starling as she returns to the field in 1993, one year after the events of the Silence of the Lambs. She tracks down monsters and madmen while working in a man's world. Now it's her time to speak.
The silence is over. New episodes of the CBS original Clarice Thursday, Saturday night, Central or Stream any time on CBS.
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GBW are the owner's manual for important operating instructions. Ten. I'll start us off with number 10, the fast food fried rats, what different versions of this legend feature people eating fried chicken until you take a big bite of a piece? That just doesn't seem right. That's when you realize that you're actually eating a deep fried rat when there's been an urban legend. I've never heard of this. I've heard it before. That's disgusting. I've heard it before and it's horrific.
Oh, so yawn.
Broon found a famous folklorist, author of the Encyclopedia of Urban Legends. So basically this amazing human being that brought us urban legends. Yeah, I says this one dates back to the 70s. OK, so not that far. So not crazy. It's not like from the seventeen hundreds. Nothing. So why did this legend come about. I don't want to know. Don't tell me. The first thing is rats are seen as yucky. Yes. And they're also kind of just about the right size for a story like this to where you could potentially think a rat is a piece of fried chicken or a corn dog grows a little.
I mean, why don't you go? There is just what my brain said on a stick.
No, KFC is often the one used in this story because, you know, it's possibly the most widely known fried chicken, fast food place and my favorite place in the entire world. It is I don't want to talk to dad about this. This story most likely stems from the shift towards eating out at restaurants instead of cooking at home. So it's a little bit of a shaming because at least in the beginning, it was directed at women. So versions feature a woman getting chicken for the fam instead of cooking.
So it's like, oh, you don't cook for your family, you're going to eat out.
So you know what? You find the rat. That's gross. Yeah. So there are crimes associated with this. It's been used in lawsuits against corporations or restaurants for settlements, but generally they're just a hoax every time. But people heard this and are like, oh, that could happen or didn't happen. Oh, my God.
So, Grossi, I wouldn't even want to pretend that that happened to me because then karma might come around and it could happen and they'll make you eat a rat.
Nine. At number nine is the story of stolen kiddie's that was once a traveling college student or businessman is drugged by a clandestine gang who harvests their victim's kidneys to sell on the black market.
Then the victim wakes up in a bathtub full of ice with a note explaining what has happened and to call 911 for help.
I always love the ending of this one. It's like you get a note that's like, hello, we've stolen your kidneys, we're going to sell them on the black market. You're probably in a lot of pain. You should call 911 for help, keep out. It's very considerate. It's super, super inconsiderate at the beginning. And then full spin. Yeah, consider it at the end. I just love that it's like Zo Gossip Girl I love so much.
So this is a newer urban legend that John Broon Bond specifically dates back to nineteen ninety one. It's an early 90s once again, not that long ago, but this story was frequently forwarded in the early days of email. Oh yes, of course. Organ donation organizations had to ask people to stop sharing it. I know that's so sad because it really harms like yeah, we actually need your kidneys, but we'll take them when you die.
But cool. Now, Snopes, a website that fact checks urban legends, says that the National Kidney Association asks if this really happened to anyone and there was no responses. You so some of these either, like, really embarrassed that this happened or just didn't happen.
Yeah, I'm so embarrassed that someone stole my kidneys and put me in about or like the trauma. So did they didn't want to talk about it anymore.
They're like PTSD. Yeah, I would say that more than like I'm feeling embarrassed. I mean, I'd be embarrassed to be like, oh, lacking a kidney. Apparently the bathtub full of ice part comes later. I mean, earlier versions like sometimes have the victim waking up in a bloody bed. Oh. So not as considerate. No. And you know what? The bathtub, you're right. Is very considerate because we're already getting ice on that wound.
Of course, we're already keeping everything at a good temperature.
Like I said, a full 360 festering. Actually, I guess that's a 180 because we end up doing the 360, brings you right back right back to the root. Snopes actually dug up an actual case from nineteen eighty eight in which four Turkish men willingly but illegally sold a kidney. Wow. Now, later, one of them told authorities he had been told he needed a medical checkup for a job but did not agree to selling his kidney. Can't what like you have to go get a regular routine checkup and also we have to take your kidney like you get in there and you're like you just a blood test and like a quick little checkup.
And they're like, OK, we're going to take one of your major organs. That's cool, right? Yeah, you're fine with that. This job is important. You're not OK. Well, we're going to do it anyways. But here some ice. Oh. Eight number eight on our countdown of terrifying urban legends is the hook oh, here's the story.
Two young people are making out in their car when they hear on the radio a dangerous man has escaped from a nearby psychiatric hospital. Oh, no, no. They hear a scratching sound outside the car, scared they leave only to find a disembodied hook hanging from the door handle when they get home.
Honestly, that's not even that scary because they get away. That's terrifying. Are you kidding me? I know you. You would not be calm.
And that's true if it happened. But like talking about it, it's not that scary. I remember this one vividly being in people's minds. It's in urban legend. The first one kind of. Yeah, there's different like various. Yeah, it. Oh. So the origins of this one go back to the 1950s which makes sense.
Like you look it in your car.
Exactly. You know, with the radio bulletin and Innocent Lover's Lane. So that's what I was going to say. Lover's Lane. It's meant to scare those wild 50s high schoolers. Yeah.
You know, they don't even want them to get into a blackout situation. So we're trying to scare you off at it completely. There have certainly been plenty of Real-Life murders at Lover's Lane type locations. Hello, Zodiac Killer. Son of Sam. Yeah. The Texarkana phantom killer attacked and killed people at Lover's Lane. He's always the one I think of. He's one of the scariest. In the 1922 Huls Mills' murder case, the Reverend Edward Wheeler Hall was found dead with his mistress at a lover's lane in New Jersey.
Both were married to other people, and Mills sang in the choir at the reverend's church. So this is just one of those things. It's trying to like shame. It's like a scandal. Yeah, exactly.
Seven. At number seven this week is the Bloody Mary. There she is. Oh, I don't even like to say it out loud again. No, this one involves going to a dark room with a mirror, usually in the bathroom and chanting the name of Bloody Mary in order to summon a dangerous entity. Don't do it. No, I did it when I was little. So tons of versions of this one, obviously, especially when it comes to the number of times you chant her name, usually three.
Thirteen or a hundred. A hundred is a lot of word.
One hundred. I think they call that overkill. I think they call that you need to get a hobby. I think they call that don't.
You're late for dinner when you're standing in the bathroom saying a name a hundred times. Yeah I always heard three.
I was three or I have actually heard seven before. It's three. It's three. OK, I'm right.
Well Bloody Mary, after you summon her, is supposed to scratch the face of the one calling out to her. So why would you summon her? Why do you want your face scratched? Why would you do it? In other versions? She either kills her victims or pulls them into the mirror world with her never to be seen again.
The mirror world sounds like a terrible world. I don't want to be in there with her. I do not like mirrors and fact and feng shui. You're not supposed to have a mirror at the foot of your bed and I never put one on the end of my bed. I don't want to watch myself sleep. Well, you can't. And they can suck you in can. It's scary. But back to this part of its history is that Mary is a witch who was executed one hundred years ago for the crime of practicing black magic.
Honestly, that one checks out. It does. The Oxford Handbook of American Folklore and Folklife Studies says it's a test for kids to prove their courage and it signifies a transition from childhood to adulthood. It is. It's like a rite of passage. But really, if you're an adult saying Bloody Mary in the mirror again, like you should maybe apply for a job or something. When you've done it, you're transitioning into adulthood. So you've yet to get there.
OK, you're like on the pit stop lacquerware. Yeah. Folklorists note also various back stories that boil down to keeping kids from staying out too late at night and causing problems.
Mary prevents crime. Look at her. She does it all.
I think we covered that folklore. We did in one of our episodes on Morbid. And I think one of them was they think it could have been attributed to Mary Queen of Scots.
Yes, because she was called Bloody Mary. She always said she was Rabo.
Six. Also on our list at number six, the clown statue. Oh, here's the long story short. A teenage girl is babysitting, gets the kids to bed. When the parents called to check in, she has to watch TV in their bedroom because the clown statue in the living room is really creeping her out. But they tell her to get out of the house because they don't own a clown statue.
Oh, I hate this one so much. And I just recently found out about it. Yes. On the strange and unusual podcast. Yes, I. And what's up?
I cannot win this story. It gives me chills every time. That's why I didn't babysit for people that I didn't know well. And I think this one affects me a lot because it's a huge play on home invasion fears, which I have a huge fear of me to, you know, monster under the bed kind of stuff.
And it's supported by the fact that home invasions are very real.
This could happen. Oh, it's so scary. There are variations on the story and they include the cops later catch a killer dressed as a clown running through the neighborhood and the kids complaining about a clown watching them as they slept for weeks, weeks.
But then they say that they would bring it to the parents and the parents would just chalk it up as a nightmare lesson. Never chalk anything up to a nightmare. Life is crazy. I'm telling you right now, if my kids come to me and say that something's watching them sleep, I'm never chalking that up to it, that we're burning the house down something fresh. I'm staying in their room with, like a giant machete. And I'm going to take care of this.
Oh, I'm losing what? I'm ready. Towns away. I'm not even bothering with that room anymore. I'm going to get with it. I'm going to get by Friday the 13th Machete prop.
I'm going to sit there all day, board the room up. I got you, baby.
Don't worry about it. So Snopes point out that this is one of the very few urban legends that ends with the intruder being brought to justice.
So it's like a happy ending. Gosh, there's also the fear of clowns.
Hi. Hi. It's Me Fear Exams.
Obviously, John Wayne Gacy did a lot to drive home the whole scary clown mythology, but there was definitely plenty before and funny after that. I totally remember I immediately started thinking about the clown panic of 2016.
That was crazy. There were stories of people dressed as clowns stocking towns at night and chasing people. Yeah, it was scary. And it turned out to be a hoax in most cases.
Yeah, I was going to say you said in most cases, but I'm assuming a couple of the cases that it wasn't a hoax. No band member.
Your husband was going to be messing with us one night.
Elaine and I were talking about it and John was like, oh, you look believable.
And then he went to walk the dog and then he banged on the window and right behind us, right behind us. And I almost pooped my pants.
Scary. Honestly, the clown statue is scary. The ones that just it sends me every time, by far the absolute scariest, although Bloody Mary. Yeah. Messed me up as a child. Oh, Bloody Mary, for sure. I didn't sleep for, like, weeks after doing that.
No, I feel like it's also a theme. Like kids tell other kids that like Bloody Marys in the school bathroom. Oh, because I changed schools a ton. And I remember that in almost every school I went to.
I think it's like one of those bullying things, too. It's like a clicky thing. Like it's like, oh, you're going to go back and send you in there to do Bloody Mary.
It's like really just to, like, ostracize someone. Yes.
Hello. It's coming from a girl who was bullied. I think that's like one of those things that, like, they try to do that. I think it's got a lot of that stuff with it for sure. Peer pressure. I'm scared about what else is going to come on this list because, like, I have to drive home and go to sleep after this. I'm ready to go scared.
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Five. All right, let's jump back in with number five on our countdown of terrifying urban legends. Also scary, starting off the second half of our list, the killer in the back seat. There he is. This one is about a woman driving alone in her car late at night in the car behind her, seems to be following her and even starts like honking and flashing his lights at her. Now, this keeps happening as she races home. Turns out there's a man in her back seat and he flashed his lights every time the man raised his head to scare him.
Man Good Samaritan right there, seriously, and gets nothing in return. So the alternate story says that a woman stops at a deserted gas station and the creepy attendant tries to lure her inside, saying, oh, there's a problem with your credit card from urban legend.
I was going to say, AII urban legend, obviously that freaks her out because, you know, he was creepy looking. But don't judge a book by its cover. He's going to say, because as a society, we judge people because we're great. Good job, everybody. Really, this guy is trying to warn her that there is a real life creepy dude in her backseat. Yeah. So just bring your mace and just don't judge people seriously.
And like we just said, the 1998 movie Urban Legend actually opens with a version of the story.
So scary. Early versions of this story were first collected by folklorists in the mid 1960s. Oh, wow. Which is nuts. In nineteen eighty two, Ann Landers published a letter from a reader that presented a version as a fact which probably helped popularize the theory. Think about it. And it's one of those things that could happen easily. Snopes points to a real case from 2013, a man stowed away in a woman's car while she was at a gas station.
He later abducted and raped her. See, it's so easy to happen. Emails once circulated, warning to be extra vigilant, getting in and out of your car. And it's like always lock your doors even if you're just gone for a second. Always. I like beep, beep, beep, nine, eight times. Hear that beep, beep. And don't look back.
Never. For. Landing at number four this week is the infamous Internet urban legend creature, Slenderman, the scariest.
It started in 2009 in an online comedy forum where someone posted a photo shopped image of a playground with kids. In the background. Is this lanky creature in a black suit, no distinguishable facial features. And the ball began to roll fast. Oh, yeah, I love that. This was like comedy. Like nothing about that is funny. Look at this creepy, faceless man watching kids play them. Is he watching them? I don't know. So fun.
He doesn't have a face.
According to The New York Times, Slenderman is scary, not because of what you know about him, but because of what you don't know exactly. Of course, this is going to get your mind going like over time. Like a mile a minute. Yeah. Your brain always tries to piece together what you don't know. And sometimes it comes up with way worse stuff than reality. The human mind is terrifying. Yeah.
Unlike other urban legends, this one is so new. We know the timeline of how it was born and raised and twisted into absolute mayhem. Isn't that weird? It really is like the only one. After the 2009 fake playground epic, the Internet did what it does. It took a piece of work and changed it into something bigger, not always better. It became more Photoshopped images of Slenderman popping up everywhere.
And I remember this in high school. Yeah, in all different environments, all different poses. But it always kind of looked the same. It did. It was also meant to scare, like, younger kids. Yeah. Like 14 year old me was terrified.
I was scared. There were fake newspaper articles, Web series, video games. And I remember our nephew Aiden showed us a video game of it and it was terrifying. I don't like it. And with that made up terrifying stories, of course, that people are passing off as true. In May 2014, things got real.
This is I know exactly, I would say crazy. In Wisconsin to 12 year old girls stabbed their friend, convinced if they didn't, Slenderman would come for them and their families real life.
This case is one of the scariest I've heard.
The girls are sentenced to forty and twenty five years in a psychiatric hospital because of this. And the victim survived. Yeah, she did. But like I know in twenty eighteen there was a movie Slenderman, but it sort of came and went without fanfare.
And I remember that it just kind of was like, yeah, I actually forgot about. Yeah. People believe this legend may have kind of faded. I hope so because it still terrifies me. I think his people know how fake it is that they're just like, OK, that it's kind of lost its luster.
Number three on our countdown of terrifying urban legends is koochie Scheana, the slip mouthed woman who like I hate it already, but most of the honey be nice in this Japanese story.
A beautiful woman with long hair wearing a surgical mask who goes around asking children if she's beautiful. After they answer, Oh, my God, she removes the mask to reveal her mouth is cut from ear to ear to scare them. What a jerk. Or she cuts their mouth to match hers. I'm not done yet. Or she kills them. No, I'm scared.
I'm clutching my throat and especially the surgical mask. Now, you don't know where she is. Oh my God.
She could be lurking fuc. So there's some debate whether the story existed for some time before it became well known in the late 70s.
Now in a 2007 movie, it gives her a back story and the ability to survive by possessing others as she moves from body to body kidnapping children. What is your problem?
I can't even begin to tell you word of mouth version say there's varying back stories to explain how she wound up with a mouth like she was born with it. She did it to herself. Was she in a bad accident, etc., etc.. The legend became so widespread and terrorized so many young people that there was actually a real life panic. Thank God these poor children in real life panicking right now. My goodness.
School kids, organized groups to walk home from school and banded together against the threat of koochie.
Scheana, I'm just glad they were together in groups because buddy system.
I know smart. And that's the thing. It's like that's the thing I was talking about how like, you know, it might be not true.
Let's hope I can teach you good lesson. At least it makes you think safely. So this is what you have to do to survive.
If she asks you if she's pretty, you have to say kind of or so. So which is a little rude, but so say yes or no. You kids just be like gorgeous and she'll be like, I know, right? Check out this house. Check out what I got. I just like how you got to go. Kind of.
Apparently, she also hates the smell of hairstyling products so you can yell pomade and she'll just run away, which is that real life.
I need to know. I need to get more information about that, please. And thank you.
They're just awkward. Oh, my God. Probably for me. Now, the creepy visual calls to mind the real life Black Dahlia.
I immediately thought of that exactly whose mouth had been slit from ear to ear.
So maybe that's like the inspiration because it happened before this probably came out. Yes, exactly. So Giséle Pomade. And you're good to go pomade.
We have talked about some interesting things, Fujisaki Yoona is really going to live in my head all around you, baby, I'm going to be unpartnered everywhere I some Olalla.
Oh, there's some classic ones on here, though.
Like the kidney one. Yes.
Back-Seat. Yes, this clown statue. I'm waiting for a couple more.
My last one I'm sure you're waiting for. It is a doozy. Oh, I bet it is. Is your last one a good one? Finds a really good one.
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To. We're down to the final two spots on our countdown of terrifying urban legends at number two is the roommate's death. Oh, here's the basic idea. Two college roommates go to a party, one leaves early and goes back to the dorm. Me in the middle of the night. She hears scratching at the door, scares her. She doesn't open the door. The next morning, she finds her roommate dead on the other side of the door. She was the one scratching, unable to scream for help because her throat is cut.
Yelina, thanks for coming to my rescue. Sorry I was sleeping. I was tired. Sorry I stayed late at the party and something went down. Yeah. So that's the urban legend, you know, lesson here. Go home. Yeah, that's exactly what it is. Or open that door. If someone scratching go to bed. I'm not opening the door. If someone scratch and get out of here, I'm not either. So the earliest recorded versions of this story date back to the 60s.
I guess a lot of these do. Yeah. These are among the other college set urban legends.
They capitalize on the mistrust of the security of institutional life, especially from students away from the haven of home.
Of course, there was true crime that had a little bit it was a little similar to this, though, in the 70s.
That didn't help quell these fears much. You know, with Ted Bundy killing sorority girls in Florida, that'll do it. That'll make you feel like. Wait a second. Yeah, exactly. It sounds a little familiar. There was also a big Eddie Big Eagle camper, big old Ed, big old Ed, the coed killer who was murdering college students between 1972 and 1973.
Yeah, it was a wild time to be alive. It really was a wild time to be in college. Glad I wasn't there.
According to John Bruun, Bond are famous folklorist. This story is similar to and I immediately thought of this one.
Aren't you glad you didn't turn on the light? I will always be glad I didn't turn on the light.
In that version, a college student comes back to the dorm room, thinks her roommate is in bed with her boyfriend being loud, so she leaves the light off.
In the morning, she discovers her murdered roommate and the killer had written on the wall. Aren't you glad you didn't turn on the lights? Yes. And they wrote it in the blood.
Too spooky. And an urban legend. That's when Daniel Harris is the roommate. Oh, yes. Amazing in it. The best golfer of all time. The worst goth roommate. The best of the worst. I have to watch that movie and it's a great one.
So good. One. And that brings us to number one on our countdown of the top ten terrifying urban legends. The call is coming from inside the house. Oh, this one. So here's the story. A baby sitter starts getting a bunch of calls from a man saying, have you checked on the children? Oh, well, it's obviously not a prank. She calls the police who say to keep him on the phone so they can trace it when they do.
The call is coming from inside the house where the two children were found murdered and the babysitter got out just in time. Hate that. That's like the worst babysitting adventure of all time. Truly is another urban legend that dates back to the early 70s, possibly as early as the 60s, I guess. So what was happening back then? Way too much.
Were you OK back then? What was that? If you made it out alive, can you hit us up? Yeah. Can you just, like, knock two times so we know you're OK?
Don't scratch. We will. Don't do it. This one is like chock full of outdated backwards social fears. Surance namely that the teenager has to take on major responsibilities in caring for children. Yeah, like keeping them alive from rhetoric. Like that's a lot. And because they died in her care, she has failed in her dress rehearsal for motherhood. Oh no. Oh failure. This urban legend was the basis for the 1979 film When a Stranger Calls, starring Carol Cain as the terrorized babysitter.
Yes, such a good one I've never seen. I could have told you that. I know. But the legend has been thought to have started because of the real life case of an eighth grader, Janet Xman. In March 1950, while babysitting a three year old in Columbia, Missouri, Janet was raped and strangled to death with an iron cord. Oh, do you remember that Netflix special that we watch the urban legends like Cropsey? Oh, yeah.
So the case actually remains unsolved. But Janet tried to call the police during the attack and the police just didn't trace the call e, which is not good police work. When the family called to check in, the phone line was busy. They found her once they got home and the phone was off the hook.
Number one was number one, a hundred percent and I actually got the Sparkasse research gods without even meaning to.
Well, you're right. There you go. Hey. Oh, hey. Oh, I actually I got to get you always get a one two punch. I got to get it. I have to a one two punch. A one two punch.
So the first one I thought of and it's probably because I'm thinking of urban legend right now. The movie is The Pop Rocks and Soda that everybody thought that your stomach would burst and they thought the kid that was like Mickey likes it. They thought he died because of that. But in reality, he's totally alive and fun.
It's all good, Mike.
But the pop ups, that one was like you believed it when you were little, because if you really think about it. Yeah. Kind of makes sense that it would burst your stomach.
It does make sense. And it's probably a lot like kids don't eat a ton of junk food.
Exactly. You don't want to eat pop rocks and soda at the same time without your teeth. The other one I thought of, which is one that used to scare the crap out of me, is the humans like two one I'm sorry, one. And the basic premise of this one, I think, if I remember correctly, is this like girl is home alone and she's really scared and she keeps hearing things.
And so she keeps putting her hand down to let her dog lick her hand to make her feel better, like comforting. And he does all night and she's like, cool. And then she wakes up in the morning and she hears dripping in the bathroom and she finds the dog has been killed and hung from the shower curtain. That's the dripping. Oh, and they wrote on the wall in the dog's blood, humans can look to somebody's licking her head.
That's terrifying on about six different levels. And I've never heard of that. Yeah, that one stresses me out. Yeah, I remember that one from email chains. You times amily. Yeah. Real gross. So thanks for listening. We'll be back next week with another great episode.
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