One of my favorite pastimes is dishing out urban legends.
The other night my buddy Dave told me about the time he and a friend picked up a hitchhiker back in his college town. He said the guy was also a college kid, and it looked like he could have just left a party and was in need of a ride.
In other words, the guy looked safe to pick up.
The guy's name was "Matt," and after some initial small talk, he told Dave to make sure he didn't drink and drive on the road they were on, because a lot of people had been killed on that road.
Dave politely thanked him for the advice.
When they dropped "Matt" off, Matt said that if they were ever around Scruffy's Bar in the area to stop in and say hello, because he was a bartender there.
The next night, Dave and a few pals were out and about and ended up in Scruffy's. They asked for Matt, the bartender. The bartender behind the bar replied that Matt died in a car accident down the road a few weeks ago ... drunk driving.
Urban legend, or true story?
My friend Kevin from my days in the play "Tony N' Tina's Wedding" told me that he was driving home to Connecticut one weekend night after performing two shows. The snow had begun to fall, and by the time he got near his home the roads were covered.
He said he was rounding a usually dangerous curve when a white dove landed on his windshield with a thud. He was startled so much by the bird's landing that he slowed to a near stop, just as he was coming around the curve.
Just on the other side of the curve, there was a two-car pile-up that he would have surely smashed into if the bird hadn't "warned" him.
Fact, or fiction?
When I was in high school I drove a tow truck for a company that had the contract for a 30 mile area of the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey. Part of my territory was the Bass River State Forest, part of the N.J. Pine Barrens, and home to the legendary "Jersey Devil."
One night I was paged out of bed at 2 a.m. The State Trooper told me a man in a Corvette had a dead battery, and to meet the officer at the barracks to be escorted to the scene. When I arrived at the barracks, the trooper told me, "I'll bring you out there, lights and all, but once you're there, you're on your own."
I thought that was a bit odd, but I didn't argue.
When I got out there, I knew why the trooper didn't want to be there. We were five long miles into the Pine Barrens, in the middle of the night, and it was pitch black. The only light was from the trooper's beacons and my floodlights and my yellow beacons spinning on top of my truck.
When we got to the Corvette, the owner thanked me for coming, and the trooper pulled away.
Now, the only sound there was as I readied my jumper cables was the humming of the Diesel motor of my wrecker and the wooshing of the bright yellow beacons as they rotated, illuminating the pine forest with an amber hue.
Suddenly, as I made contact with the Corvette's battery with my cables, my truck went dead.
There we stood in absolute darkness and absolute silence.
Then, we heard the most grizzly growl you can imagine. It was a combination of a shriek, like it was afraid, and a roar, like it was about to kill. It was scary. There we were, all alone, the cop had left, and it was dark as hell.
Then all at once, the roar went silent and the yellow beacons on top of my truck lit up and started rotating. I reached into the cab and started the truck. The customer started his Corvette, we pulled the cables out, and said we'd do the paperwork back on the main road, if we ever got there.
It was the longest five miles out of the woods of my life, and needless to say, you'll never catch me back in Bass River State Forest. Ever.
OK, I made all that up. But it's scary, isn't it?
Don't you just love urban legends? Tell me yours...