NPR's Storycorps gave the air this week
to 94-year-old Betty Jenkins, who tells the tale of an inflatable bra her mother gave her when she was younger. She decided to wear the bra on a plane trip to South America. Unfortunately, as she sat in the unpressurized cabin, her bra started to get bigger and bigger:
"As the thing got bigger, I tried to stand up," Jenkins said, "and I couldn't see my feet."
The instructions said that the bra's pads could be inflated up to a size 48.
"I thought, 'What would happen if it goes beyond 48?'" Jenkins recalled.
"I found out what happened," she said. "It blew out."
Only one of the cups burst, Jenkins said. But the noise was loud enough to seize the attention of everyone on the plane.
"The co-pilot came into the cabin with a gun, wondering what had happened. The men all pointed to me."
Next week Betty will be telling the story of how she once accidentally microwaved her poodle. But seriously, I wonder if NPR realized that Betty's story is the classic urban legend of the exploding bra? As David Emery points out
, you can find variants of it dating back to the 1950s. And was Betty just pulling everybody's leg, or does she actually believe this happened to her? Who knows. But David makes a good point:
chivalry forbids calling Ms. Jenkins out on her embellishment of this well-known urban legend, especially since, as the StoryCorps website clearly states, its mission is to collect "the stories and legends of everyday America" (emphasis added).