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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha

The net has made the world a more fascinating place as it provides the most bizarre details that I, personally, find irresistible, writes Karan Thapar.

india Updated:

The net has made the world a more fascinating place. Not simply because it gives us access to information that otherwise would take aeons of research to discover but also because it provides the most bizarre details that I, personally, find irresistible. What’s truly remarkable is these ‘facts’ can turn up from the most incredible of sources. And all it takes is an email to pass them on.

Last week, I received two emails I want to share with you. The first, from a former colleague, Kartik Malhotra, is of the old fashioned ‘believe-it-or-not’ variety. It’s about two American Presidents, Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy. It seems their lives were connected in a variety of ways, but none that they could have guessed themselves.

Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846. Kennedy, a hundred years later, in 1946. Lincoln became President in 1860. Kennedy, after a century, in 1960. But that’s not all. Both their wives lost children whilst living in the White House. Both were assassinated on a Friday. And in both cases they were shot in the head.

Hereafter, the connection becomes truly weird. Lincoln’s secretary was called Kennedy. Kennedy’s secretary was a Lincoln. Andrew Johnson succeeded Lincoln and was born in 1808. Lyndon Johnson succeeded Kennedy and was born in 1908. John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin, was born in 1839. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was born in 1939.

But wait, it’s about to become spooky. Lincoln was shot in a theatre called Ford. Kennedy in a car called Lincoln made by Ford. Lincoln was shot in a theatre and his assassin ran and hid in a warehouse. Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin ran and hid in a theatre. A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe, Maryland. A week before Kennedy was shot, he was, it’s said, with Marilyn Monroe. Of course, after Lincoln died his widow didn’t marry a man called Onasis!

The second email is from my old friend Kris Srinivasan who, you may recall, has sent several earlier ones that I have written about. This time he’s drawn my attention to the Stella Awards. Named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck, who spilled hot coffee on herself but profitably sued McDonalds, the awards recognise the most “frivolous, ridiculous but successful” law suits in the United States.

Kris has sent me a note on the five top winners for this year. Unfortunately, I only have space for the most peculiar — or do I mean hilarious? Well, judge for yourself.

In joint fifth place, Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised by the verdict considering that the misbehaving little toddler was Ms Robertson’s son!

Sharing fifth place with Ms Robertson was this law suit: 19-year-old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbour ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr Truman apparently didn’t notice that there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbour’s hubcaps!

Now, let’s jump to second place. Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a nightclub when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred whilst Ms Walton was trying to sneak through the window in the ladies room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $ 12,000 and dental expenses!

But the winner is undoubtedly the most amazing law suit you are ever likely to read about. Merv Grazinski of Oklahama City purchased a brand new 32 foot Winnebago Motor Home. On her first trip, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go back and make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the vehicle left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mrs Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising her in the owner’s manual that she couldn’t actually do this. The jury awarded her $1,750,000 plus a new motor home!

Now, you might ask if all of this is the truth or simply the creation of Kartik’s and Kris’s creative imagination. I’m afraid I don’t know. But does it matter? If you’ve chortled as you’ve read this, it’s served its purpose.

First Published: Feb 25, 2007 02:38 IST

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