The Babysitter is perhaps the most overrated urban legend ever. It is reprinted in books a lot, retold over and over again in various places, and my eighth-grade language-arts teacher had us read it.

The basic story is this: A couple with a (usually) two-story house is going out to dinner and leaving their kids in the care of a babysitter visiting their house. The babysitter puts the kids to bed and then goes downstairs to watch television without any distractions. Everything is going fine and dandy, but, little does the babysitter know something HUGE is going on upstairs.

Then Miss Babysitter gets a call. It's some man panting and breathing heavily, and the caller ID says that it's the house's own phone number (which my parents claim is impossible, but we'll get to that in a bit). The babysitter shivers the first time, but turns back to the TV to watch more as she thinks of the man's strange words, which are something along the lines of "I'm upstairs with the kids and got 'em. Come upstairs and get them back." The babysitter tries hard not to think about these words.

Then, a couple minutes later, at the commercial break, the phone rings again. It's the same man, and he responds with the same message, again sometihng along the lines of "I'm upstairs with the kids and got 'em. Come upstairs and get them back." The babysitter shivers more, and is getting a bit more curious, but, even though the commercials are on and Jif commercial glurge about how caring dads choose Jif peanut butter and then show how they fold their peanut buttered bread in half just like their dad used to do,
and ones about what's on the news tonight at 11,
and Mr. Bucket,
and Garlique,
and the Crestor commercial with the obnoxious guy going down the stairs with the numbers on them or the elevator or whatever,
and all those fun commercials are getting completely boring, she stays downstairs and tries to ignore it and hopes the kids are still asleep.

When the call comes for the third time and the fourth and the fifth and so on and so on with the same message as before, the babysitter is REALLY getting worried. She begins to walk up the stairs, and, on the landing, she sees a strange man with blood all over him who tells her the lines along the lines of "I've gotten the kids. Why haven't you come up and got 'em?" He then plunges himself at the shocked babysitter, face turned white, but he just barely misses. The babysitter runs as fast as she can out to the police station and tells them that "There's a man in my house all covered in blood who's been calling me!!!!" The police go in and investigate and figure out that the blood-covered man was on the phone's extension and had killed the kids. We're left not knowing what happened to the parents afterwards, but I'm guessing they didn't go out to dinner for a long time afterwards.

Now to my parents thinking this legend was stupid. They told me it's impossible for a phone connected to a house to be able to actually call the same number it has, but the people at school said that the legend actually is possible, and rootbeer277 has pointed out that it's perfectly possible with two or more phone lines installed in the house or if there is no number on the caller ID. Also, how come the babysitter didn't ear the kids screaming? Did the story take place is some mansion or something, or was the babysitter watching some sort of horror movie with a ton of screaming in it or what?

Also, another similar legend is The Clown Statue. This one starts out the same as The Babysitter, only no killing, and this one usually takes place at the babysitter's house. The kids yell for the babysitter, saying that the clown statue wherever they are (bedroom, den, attic, basement, this one's really open-ended) is freaking them out. The babysitter goes into where the kids are and sees an escaped circus clown run past them, out the door leading outside, and through the town. I don't think this one is as overrated, but, then again, it's also not as likely to give little kids nightmares.
(Though, when I was a little kid of about two or three, my grandparents had some metal clown faces hanging up on their basement wall that freaked me out. I once fell down by them at three years old, and went nuts over the scary-looking THINGS smiling and frowning at me, so they threw them out soon after that.)

Darn babysitter.

Creases told me that The Babysitter's a mangled-up version of a 1979 movie caled When A Stranger Calls, recently remade. Thanks for the various /msgs about this.

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