CLOSE
Original image

Can Anyone Become A Royal?

Original image

You've probably heard about how easy it is to become a minister these days ... websites like the Universal Life Church offer "online ordinations" for a low low price, and only ask that you not submit names to be ordained that are "obviously false" or "profane." But let's say you like the idea of adding a title to your name (like "Reverend") but don't want to deal with the moral implications of being a clergyperson or the hassle of being asked to consecrate marriages all the time. In that case, for a couple hundred clams (or possibly a lot more) you can have a royal title ... usually in less than a week!

Here's the scoop. There are probably a dozen or more online services offering titles -- everything from Lord, Lady, Baron, Baroness, Count, Countess, Duke and Duchess to Marquis, Marchioness, Viscount, Viscountess, Earl, Sir and Dame. Theoretically, anyone can get one, anywhere in the world, and you can be declared the title of your choosing -- be it the Lord of Luxembourg or the Viscount of Hoboken. A tiny parcel of land in England or Scotland is sold to you -- say one foot square -- and then is re-named "Hoboken" or whatever it is you want to be the Lord, Lady or Duke of, etc. The titles are supposedly called "peerages," but unlike most royal titles, they can't be inherited or passed on to your kids.

The most delightful thing about the sites that offer them, however, are their sales pitches:

It's frightening how people in the twenty-first century still perceive a person with a title to be richer, more intelligent and better thought of, than the average Mr. Joe Bloggs. But people do - and you can take advantage of it. If you (or your loved one) check into a hotel with a title and ring in advance I can tell you - the results are astounding! Many of visitors of this website have told me because of their title they have been given wine, fruit, and a room upgrade simply because the management are eager to improve their present class of clientele. The title holder will notice the instant change in people's attitudes. From the very first moment they realize that you have a title they will treat you as if you were royalty. And if you don't correct them - well... its hardly your fault they treat you this way - is it?

The same website goes on to promise their clientele "access to a privileged world" and "the ability to influence people effortlessly." Sounds great!

Some people, however -- notably the (real) Earl of Bradford in England, have begun to decry these online title services as fraudulent:

Con men are marketing phony baronies and dukedoms by the dozen, which they sell on the internet for thousands of pounds. "The British embassy in Washington is so worried about Americans being misled into buying fake titles that it has posted a warning about it on its website," Bradford said.

On the Earl's on website, he writes "You cannot purchase a genuine British title, with one exception, the feudal title of a Scottish baron; and certainly cannot buy a peerage title". Scottish Feudal Baronies fetch a mighty price; the Barony of MacDonald was up for sale at over £1 million."

Well, that certainly puts a crimp in my plans.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
Original image
iStock

According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

Original image
iStock
arrow
fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
Original image
iStock

If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios