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Urban Legends

AIDS Mary/Murray

The Legend

For his 21st birthday, a young man's friends take him out, get him drunk, and send him to a hotel with a prostitute. After a one-night stand that he can't even remember, the man sleeps until almost noon and awakes with a horrible hangover. When he finally does get up, he staggers into the bathroom and finds "Welcome to the world of AIDS" written on the bathroom mirror in lipstick.

(variant)

For her 21st birthday, a young woman's friends take her out, get her drunk, and send her to a hotel with a guy with a comb-over and leisure suit they met at the bar. After a one-night stand that she can't even remember, the woman sleeps until almost noon and awakes with a horrible hangover. When she finally does get up, she staggers into the bathroom and finds "Welcome to the world of AIDS" written on the bathroom mirror in shaving cream.

(variant)

For his 21st birthday, a young man's family buys him a computer. After sitting up all night downloading pornography and leaving his e-mail address on "swinging singles" bulletin boards, the young man finally goes to bed. He awakes in the afternoon with a horrible headache. When he goes back to his computer, he sees that there are thousands of pieces of spam e-mail waiting for him, and when he opens the first one, he finds "Welcome to a world ads!" scrawled in ASCII.


Behind the Legend

The first two versions of this legend -- which have, respectively, become known as "AIDS Mary" and "AIDS Murray" -- arise from incidents that took place in 1986. In both cases, the individuals did not end up HIV positive, although the man in the first incident did end up with Chlamydia, crabs, a cold sore, and 18 years of child-support payments, and the woman in the second incident found herself afflicted with a dirty, slimy feeling that no amount of showering could wash off.

It is not known whether the third incident was a real occurrence or not, largely because it is so similar to the experiences of thousands of first-time Internet users that it's hard to pick one as the tale's origin.

Taking advantage of the popularity of this series of stories, in 1992 a large retail chain ran a commercial during the Superbowl which depicted a young man falling asleep next to a gorgeous young woman, obviously after a night of passion. He wakes up in the morning to find that the woman is missing and that his bed has been transported into the middle of a large department store in which a sale is in full swing. On the mirror of the dressing table next to his bed, he sees, scrawled in lipstick, "Welcome to a world of values!"

Shortly after running this ad, the chain filed for bankruptcy.


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