How Many Playful River Spirits Tricked YOU Today?

River spirits are a fact of modern life. We may not like it, but if we don’t indulge them, they take our babies and iPhones. We asked our readers how they’ve been conned by mischievous river spirits and what to look out for to stay smart and stay safe by our rivers and streams

Elizabeth Beck from Atlanta, Ga writes:

There’s a reason ‘wet behind the ears’ is used to describe a novice. It’s someone who’s brand new to the hellscape of living in a world with goblins and tricksters around every corner and under every rock, pebble, and grain of river sediment.

And that reason: if you’re wet behind the ears, you’ve been touched by the moist phalanges of the river spirit, fresh out of the rushing waters to frick your entire life until you are dead. And you weren’t ready.

You fool. 
You goddamn idiot. 
You disgrace this dojo.

Well, it’s not too late to restore balance to the universe and honor to your name. Here are some telltale signs that you’ve been touched by the aquatic nuisance:

- The pixels on your phone are all fricked up. “Did I get in the shower with my phone again?” you wonder. Stop gaslighting yourself, you numbskull. A river spirit ran out of prepaid minutes and took yours.

- Ass cheek prints on the ceiling. These idiots party hard, okay?

- You find yourself with new, borderline or outright useless abilities. You can smell fear, but only your own fear, or you know when your neighbor’s son is about to hit up his weed man (who, let’s face it, is probably just a river spirit passing off some seaweed as the good kush).

- Floppy bones.

- You catch the travel bug! And you never travel; indulging wanderlust means more opportunities to be tricked by elemental spirits, or the dreaded Otis. But you keep blacking out and waking up on Southwest.com, screaming at those low, low fares.

- Blacking out and waking up in the dollar theater to see back to back nostalgia screenings of Splash.

- You’ve replaced your nice bed with a water bed, but not a normal water bed — you actually filled a kiddie pool with sediment and sleep in it 18 hours a day. You’ve been telling yourself it’s a “cleanse” that you found on GOOP.com, which is a river spirit’s favorite website to hack.

- You literally cannot stop turning every basin-shaped item in your home into a turtle terrarium.

- You wake up and a shimmering obelisk who calls himself “…….slime man” is levitating above you and introduces himself as New Dad.

Look, I’m not gonna sugar coat it. You need to know the signs so you can protect yourself or at least mitigate the damage of any river spirit malarkey that’s already underway. Hopefully you catch it before you find the telltale stains of brackish water on your carpet.

Realizing you’ve been had? Here’s what you can do.

1) Call Equifax, Experian and TransUnion and have your credit frozen. I’m not fricking around here. River spirits love to torment the dry by devastating their credit scores. And aside from freezing your credit? Check your statements every month. You see that $19 charge for an annual Washington Post subscription? They would never let you behind their paywall for an entire year for a peasant’s fee of $19, you nitwit. That’s a telltale sign of water nymph machinations. Next time it’s not gonna be $19, it’s gonna be $100 for fine wine and spirits for the river spirits and their rowdy friends down in the bayou.

2) This one should be obvious, but for some fricking reason it isn’t: you should always carry at least a foot of Velcro, hook and loop sides, with you at all times. If you get a whiff of what you think is the telltale musty wet stench of a river spirit manifesting near you, pull out your Velcro and start pulling it apart and putting it back over and over again, as fast as you can. River spirits know what Velcro is and they have it underwater (almost all of them wear Skechers), but the water muffles the sound. Above sea level, the sound is like nails on a chalkboard to them. It makes them afraid of their own shoes. They’ll rip off their shoes, drop your wallet and slither back into the creek in your backyard, probably passing out on their way to the river again. It’ll be a while before they try anything again after that embarrassment.

There you have it. There is no cure for river spirit trickery, but there is treatment. So look for those there warning signs and keep what’s left of your dignity.


“They made me drive their underwater train in a conductor’s hat that said ‘RIVER BITCH’ while they jeered at me and prodded me with their fidget spinners.”
— Local River Bitch

“2 river spirits tricked me into being a bride for their ‘River Trump,’ who is a pile of Mar-A-Lago golf balls held together by mud and used condoms”
—Anonymous Waitress at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville

Taylor Roy of Atlanta, Ga writes:

Ah, river-spirits. As a youth, my grand-yenta, wrapped up in several babushkas simultaneously, warned me of them and their watery subterfuge. Of course, that was before they convinced yenta that all three of her late husbands were awaiting her at the bottom of the brook with roses and compliments. As I saw her slowly whisked away by the reasonably swift current, I promised myself that I would never again turn a blind eye to the devious sprites.

We never found yenta (because we never looked for her), but I found in myself the wherewithal to hunt down all gremlins, imps, and pixies. It so happened that the zeitgeist’s disdain for scientific truths worked to my benefit, and my cryptozoological extermination venture became quite profitable.

As my entrepreneurial fortitude grew and the available pool of wood nymphs, satyrs, and faeries dwindled. I had to resort to murdering chipmunks and dressing them up with pointy ears and body glitter after the fact just to keep my clientele satisfied that I was meeting my quota of genociding magical entities.

In desperation, I created a farm to breed these creatures back from the brink of extinction. I inadvertently became a foremost expert on sprite husbandry in the meantime, being featured on the cover of “Imp Stud Quarterly” on no less than 2 ½ occasions. As I sit here, elderly and decrepit, reflecting on my life as the latest litter of hill goblin squirtlings play at my feet, I realize that the water spirits’ greatest trick was me, my entire life.

Those dicks.


“I hate to say it, but 200 river spirits tricked me by pretending to cheer me on in a marathon. I stripped down to my boxer shorts and ran and ran, but all they gave me was a medal at the end and a ceremony and put me on the cover of ‘HUMANS HAVE LEGS’ magazine. But then when I opened the magazine it was just pictures of steam, which is their pornography.”
—Local Marathon Winner Who Requested to Remain Nameless

Eli Banks from Atlanta, Ga writes:

Check your fingers — has your natural webbing begun to scale over? Next, feel the top of your head — any skull discrepancies? Now quickly! Before your knees have time to react, taste them (have a friend distract them if necessary) — are you experiencing knee-sweetening?

These are benign, but serious reactions to a river spirit encounter. Before you react appropriately, panic. Your body’s natural panic juices will begin fighting the river spirit’s influence on a national stage, breaking the record for pay per viewers in a single night.

If the river spirit met you while facing north or west, you will lose and take on their essence to become a river spirit yourself, releasing the original spirit from their magical bonds.

You will join the ranks of the river spirit militia and be forced to run for river office, which you will lose to your high school sweetheart.

However, if the river spirit met you while facing east or south, the fight will end in a tie and you will be awarded a second chance at life, regressing you to your 5-year old self with a family of your choosing and all your memories intact. Avoid citrus! This can reverse the encounter and rapidly age you both physically and financially.


“A river spirit got the best of me today: he asked if he could try my glasses on so he could read a recipe for river biscuits but then he read a spell out loud that erased my LinkedIn profile.”
—Anonymous Job-Seeking Biscuit Fan

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