So it’s almost Halloween, and I’d like to discuss a little known story I was read as a child that I still think about to this day. Seriously. It has stayed with me for over 20 years. It’s called The Girl with the Green Ribbon and it was included in the compilation book In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories. It’s literally a children’s book for little kids. And some of these stories are really messed up, so I don’t know WHY ANYONE WOULD READ THIS BOOK TO A CHILD!!
The first time I read this book was when I was in CATHOLIC SCHOOL! I kid you not. It must have been 2nd or 3rd grade, maybe even younger. Have you heard this story? If you have, then you’re probably just as traumatized as I am by it. Don’t deny it. I know you are.
The basic premise of The Girl with the Green Ribbon is simple. Meet Jenny. She wears a green ribbon around her neck. (Duh!)
Meet Alfred.He is curious as to why Jenny wears this green ribbon around her neck. He asks her all the time what it’s for, but she just replies, “I can’t tell you yet. You have to wait.”
They eventually get married (aww, sweet!) and she wears the damn ribbon on her wedding day! And she still won’t tell him why she wears it all the time! Seriously, Jenny.
So they live happy, healthy lives, and when they get old, Jenny gets sick and she’s STILL WEARING THE GREEN RIBBON! And, finally, Albert asks one last time what the green ribbon is for, and rather than brushing her off, Jenny shows him. She unties the ribbon and… TA-DAAA!
JENNY’S HEAD FALLS OFF! What the hell?? So basically, her whole life she has been living with her head attached by nothing but a flimsy green ribbon. It never loses balance or wobbles around, you know? And stupid Albert doesn’t notice?? How does one go through life with a headless wife and not know??
IS SHE A ZOMBIE??? What the hell is she and what’s the point of the story?? Other than to scare the crap out of little kids, I’m sure.
Now, chokers were seriously in during the 90s, which is when I first heard this story. And, being a little girl who doesn’t quite understand, I thought EVERY GIRL WEARING ONE OF THOSE STUPID CHOKER THINGS WAS A HEADLESS ZOMBIE! I told you this story scarred me for life. I still can’t look at a choker or ribbon around a girl’s neck and not think about Jenny.
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Obviously this story has to come from somewhere. The scary stories in this book are all based on folk tales and legends. So who the hell was walking around headless and inspired this story??
According to In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories:
“The Green Ribbon is based on a European folk motif in which a red thread is worn around a person’s neck. The thread marks the place where the head was cut off, then reattached.”
IS THIS FOR REAL?!?!?! WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO REATTACH A HEAD AFTER IT’S BEEN CUT OFF?? After doing some basic research online, I couldn’t find anything on this folktale other than one story by Washington Irving. In case you didn’t know, Washington Irving is the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and other spooky tales. I was surprised I had never read this story before.
(Here is a link to a PDF version of the story in case you’re interested.)
The Adventures of the German Student by Washington Irving
This story is basically the same premise as The Girl with the Green Ribbon. A German student in Paris comes across a beautiful woman crying near the Guillotine at night during a storm, and offers his home to her. They eventually marry (after knowing each other for, like, an hour) and the next day he goes in search of better accommodations for his family.
When he returns, she is cold and pale and, basically, dead. He freaks out and calls the police, who arrive and seem to be a bit disturbed by the scene. Why? BECAUSE THE WOMAN WAS JUST GUILLOTINED THE NIGHT BEFORE! Same basic principle, but at least this tale isn’t in a children’s book, am I right??
Did you read this story as a kid? Are you still messed up?? Comment below and let me know, and maybe we can all heal together.