The tall tale is an American folklore favorite. We all know that even the most recklessly powerful man cannot ride a whirlwind or tie an alligator in knots, but a really good tall tale is so full of imaginative detail and emphatic false sincerity that we want to believe it anyway.
Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan and Casey Jones may never have existed outside of the tales told about them, but don't you wish they had – and that you'd been there to hear their incredible stories? West Virginians know that John Henry did exist, but the stories about him have been exaggerated.
Tall tales are still told in our time – often in liars clubs, where yarn-spinners compete to top each other's whoppers. Shameless exaggeration is the order of the day, but it's all in good fun.
Tall tales told in inappropriate forums don't go over so well, however, and that's where Emily Braxton and Julie Lynne Hooker went wrong. They tried to tell their tales in court.
Braxton filed at least a dozen farfetched lawsuits in Kanawha Circuit Court between 2001 and 2010. In 2009, she accused Oprah Winfrey, George and Laura Bush, et al. of implanting a camera inside her body to reincarnate her. In 2010, she accused Winfrey and televangelist T.D. Jakes and his wife of conspiring to transfer funds from her Social Security account to the U.S. Treasury to finance nuclear warfare.
Braxton also charged Winfrey, the Jakes, Pope Benedict XVI, and President Obama with conspiring to kill the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
Just this year, Julie Lynne Hooker filed suit in Kanawha Circuit Court against the Walt Disney Corp., alleging that the company had implanted a rubber “d-chip” in her body. Something must have caused her to reconsider, however, as she sought to have the suit dismissed before a month had passed.
Whatever their motivation or state of mind, Braxton and Hooker clearly are gifted tellers of tall tales. They just need to find the right place to tell their tales.