A funny story to lighten the mood

This happened at Harvard University in October last year. In a biology class, the professor was discussing the high glucose levels found in semen which gives the sperm all the energy for their journey.

A female freshman raised her hand and asked, “If I understand you correctly, you’re saying there is a lot of glucose, as in sugar, in semen?”

“That’s correct,” responded the professor, going on to add statistical info.

Raising her hand again, she asked, “Then why doesn’t it taste sweet?”

After a stunned silence, the whole class burst out laughing.

The poor girl’s face turned bright red, and as she realized exactly what she had inadvertently said (or rather implied), she picked up her books without a word and walked out of class, never to return.

However, as she was going out the door, the professor’s reply was classic.

Totally straight-faced he answered her question. “It doesn’t taste sweet because the taste buds for sweetness are on the tip of your tongue and not the back of your throat. Have a good day.”


This is an undoubtedly apocryphal story that has been repeated with different universities attached (and with slight variations in story) for almost a decade, at least. The first time I heard it was in 1996 and the university in question was MIT.


Makes sense. I didn’t necessarily believe it to be true as told. Didn’t really know if it had any basis in truth. I’d never heard it before, and thought it was funny, so I decided to share.

Aww, geeze, Murph, you’ve lived a sheltered life, haven’t you? :-)

I first heard that story in 1983, when a classmate INSISTED it had happened in Honors Biology class the year before, and even named the girl who supposedly said it.

And the punchline isn’t:
>Raising her hand again, she asked, “Then why doesn’t it taste sweet?”


“Then why does it taste so salty?” she asked.

Which is much funnier.

Sorry. Not to put a downer on the mood you’re trying to lighten, but this one’s right up there with knock knock jokes on the moldy scale. :twisted:

See also:

Don’t make me start another poll.

Murph, you’ve been victimized by an Urban Legend - which is actually not near as bad as having a bad case of Wumpus. There’s a great website on the subject somewhere (Chick knows it) and I recommend a graphic novel called The Big Book of Urban Legends. Amazon should have it, I think. Hilarious stuff and it’ll let you turn the tables on whomever told you the Harvard story. In fact, it’s amazing how many stories we take to be true turn out to be Urban Legends.

That movie sucked btw.

Oh, here’s another one:

On the Newlywed Game the host asks the naive young wife:
“Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever made whoopie?”
She answers
“In the butt”

Always thought apocryphal, turns out it’s true. They actually showed it the other night on some Game Show special on the old TV. (No joke)

They’re just urban legends because they happen all the time :)

I remember hearing it supposedly happened at my high school back in 1985.

Thanks for the attempt though, Murph. Today she would sue the Professor for sexual harassment. Then sue the guy who’s liquid manhood she swallowed for making her fat.

Gordon Berg tells me he was in a class where the ‘then why does it taste salty?’ thing happened, but then I called him on it and then we wrestled in a manly way and I emerged victorious. I think this is what led to him losing interest in flight sims.

www.snopes.com is a good starting point for sniffing out urban legends. They have a searchable archive. Jan Brunvalt’s books (I presume this is what Bub is talking about) are kind of quaint now, but they’re also a good starting point.

One of my favorites is the Coriolis effect urban legend about water going down the drain in opposite directions depending on which side of the equator you’re on. Most people have heard this and assumed it’s a scientific fact, but you can easily debunk it in any household with a couple of sinks and toilets.

BTW, I’ve long since learned not to debunk urban legends around people you don’t really know, like at a party. It’s kind of asshole-ish to disabuse people of those sorts of things.


The version I heard involves an in-hospital testimonial from Rod Stewart and Jon Bon Jovi and a stomach pump.

Yes “The Big Book of Urban Legends” is by Jan Brunvalt. They’re fun because they have funny pictures to go with them. (Some of them are really funny.) My favorite UL, because I believed it, was that one about Gangbangers driving around with their lights off at night. Some poor (white) sap would flash their brights at them and the bangers would chase down and kill him (it was a GANG INITIATION!).

The Coriolis Effect is a UL? Really? I learned about that in freaking Earth Science class. Aha, Googled it myself. You are correct Chick… thank god we didn’t have to “manly wrestle”.

The Coriolis effect is real, but it only applies to weather patterns. The rotation of the earth causes weather on one hemisphere to swirl in a clockwise direction while weather on the other hemisphere swirls in a counterclockwise direction. Small systems like sinks aren’t effected.

I like to think I have a pretty good antenna for calling bullshit on urban legends, bad statistics, apocryphal stories, stuff like that. A friend of mine recently tried to show me some stats that proved a certain occupation was the most hazardous type of job you could have. I think he said it was truck drivers, or something like that. When I didn’t believe him, he went online and found all sorts of conflicting information about what jobs have the highest risk of death: cabbies, park rangers, convenience store clerks, stuff you’d never guess. I never found out what the real answer is, but I’ve since heard a few of those ‘world most dangerous jobs!’ claims kicked around.

I also love the scary warnings like Bub’s gangbangers who kill you for flashing your headlights. Same with razor blades in water slides and candy apples at Halloween. The warning to travellers about scams for stealing laptops at X-ray machines at the airport is another good one like those, but it only appeals to geek love of gadgets rather than any issues of personal safety. But it’s not like we need urban legends to appreciate how scary the world is.


Here’s a much more important question than “Why doesn’t it taste sweet?”:


The gangbanger one also prays upon that old standby, fear of another race. “Of course those scary gangbangers would kill you for just being helpful!” Which is why I was ashamed to have bought it - I mean, it clearly isn’t a logical thing to do, even for gangbangers.

The razor in the apple story may also be a UL Chick, but it has happened. Just last Halloween in Milwaukee. Now which came first, the UL or the nutcase imitating the UL?

I’m also going to rise to your bait and claim that someone has probably had a laptop stolen off an X-Ray thingie at a crowded airport. (I’m only so sure because that would be certainly be easy to do. Last time I was at LAX my laptop went through a full 5 minutes before I did. It could have been long gone by the time I caught up to it. So I can see that UL rising from a single story, the UL probably claims it’s COMMONPLACE and RAMPANT)

I always thought the most dangerous job was game reviewer. Isn’t Eidos still trying to kill you Tom?

Beware of software companies bearing fruit baskets.

The important thing to realize about urban legends is that they aren’t necessarily untrue. They are more characterized by the way they’re spread than their veracity.

Having said that, I’d like to hear more about your razor in the Halloween apple actually happening. Why would anyone do that? You’d almost certainly be caught. This was in Milwaukee?

As for the laptops, I don’t doubt they’ve been stolen. But I do doubt that there’s an organzied scheme to do it at airport X-ray machines, as the FAA warned. There are much easier ways to steal laptops with less risk of getting caught.

The gangbanger one also prays upon that old standby, fear of another race.

I don’t know that it’s racial so much as ‘gangbangers are evil’. But I guess gangbanger does imply Hispanic.

One subtly racial one is about the black guy in the elevator who says ‘Hit the floor’ and the white person think she’s being robbed. I think the most popular variation has the black person being a famous entertainer (most recently Eddie Murphy) who generously compensates the embarrassed white person.


I just searched their archives and gave up when I noticed that narrowing my search to 2001 was yeilding plenty of stories from 2002. I entered ‘apple’, ‘razor’ and ‘Halloween’ with possible success, but a cold success buried under 100+ results. Consider it apocryphal but the way I and my wife remember it the person wasn’t caught (how do you trace an apple?)

I don’t know that it’s racial so much as ‘gangbangers are evil’. But I guess gangbanger does imply Hispanic.

Only in LA. It implies “black” elsewhere and as I heard the tale it was regarding Oakland. Regardless, I think “gangbanger” only implies “White” to fans of West Side Story.

Actually my wife just now claims it was a needle in a snickers bar.

So I ran that search. Chick, you are going to LOVE this!
This is how ULs usually devolve isn’t it? I just ran that search on Google, here’s your story.


It was quite a sensation when first reported. Obviously the developments didn’t make the Nightly News as much as the first story, the one I misremembered, did.

I liked the one about the one-night stand where the fella wakes up alone and sees “Welcome to the wonderful world of AIDS” written in lipstick on his bathroom mirror. I witnessed someone telling a 7-11 clerk that it actually happened to his roommate. “Man, I’d find and kill that fucking bitch!” the clerk said.

I also witnessed someone getting the gangbangers thing off a fax machine and waving it around, irate. “Can you believe they’re doing this!”