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A Long-Tailed Seducer -- At a cafe in Oslo, the wife of our host picked up a fork, leaned over the table, and tapped her husband on the knuckles, "Keep your eyes off the huldre, darling."

The "huldre" was a tall blonde in pants at least three sizes too small.

In Norwegian folklore, a huldre is supposed to be a most beautiful woman -- but she has a cow's tail tucked under her skirt, perhaps tied around her waist. And this bovine appendage is always dropping out at the most inopportune times. For her tail to drop off completely, she has to marry a man in a church.

The huldre makes a clever housewife and is resented -- for that and other reasons -- by Norwegian women. The Anna, Noram, or Birgit who wants to hang on to her husband is not averse to warning him against accepting an invitation to go home with a huldre for the night. The huldre has the power of stretching that night out for 7 years. At least, that's what many an errant Olav has claimed when he finally stumbles back to his older spouse.

(Frankly, the tall blonde singled out probably wasn't a real huldre. It was impossible for her to conceal a caudal appendage under those pants. But that didn't matter. The wife knew her to be a huldre -- and that was that.)

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