Essay on Urban Legend of Car Headlights

1480 Words6 Pages
Lights Out

In preparation for this writing assignment, I interviewed about 15 students at the University to collect their urban legends. One legend, often called “Lights Out,” was mentioned by just about all of the students I interviewed. Those who did not mention it on their own recognized it when I described it.

I interviewed a 19-year-old male sophomore who anticipates getting into the School of Business. He transferred from Community College this past fall, and currently lives with a relative in a nearby off-campus home. He went to a small Catholic high school. He recalls first hearing this legend early in high school, probably between freshman and sophomore year. After telling him the purpose of the interview, I began the
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Afterward, I asked him if he or anyone he knew had ever tried this before. He said, “I have (pause)… I didn’t die (pause)… that time (smile).” The way he smiled at the end of his performance re-established his normal disposition and alerted me that his serious tone earlier was just part of the act. His overall performance of the legend was similar to that of other students that I interviewed. When telling stories they seemed serious, but by the end their concern was clearly part of the performance.

Many students I interviewed told me relatively the same story, and one female student even mentioned receiving an e-mail about it years ago. Unlike other urban legends I have heard, this story did not really change significantly from person to person, perhaps because it is so straightforward. Barbara Mikkelson provided many examples of this warning story, which is usually spread by e-mail or fax. One such example describes the murders as taking place on a certain weekend:

Gang Initiation Weekend. ( Please Read Very Important!!!)

Police officers working with the DARE program has issued this warning: If you are driving after dark and see an on-coming car with no headlights on, DO NOT FLASH YOUR LIGHTS AT THEM! This is a common Bloods gang member "initiation game" that goes like this:

The new gang member under initiation drives along with

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