…a story that, while untrue (or likely untrue) should be treated as true?
I remember reading there’s a word in Italian that means this (I think it was in Reader’s Digest). The article described it as “a story that is not true, but should be.” The intimation was that if you told such a story, you wouldn’t be “faulted” for lying because it should be true. What a useful word, but I have forgotten it. My Italian-speaking friends stare at me blankly when I ask them, so maybe it’s not Italian.
In English, the closest words are parable or fable (esp. Aesop’s fables). When I read that article, though, I don’t recall considering it a synonym to these words. The difference being, the word I’m looking for relates more to a personal anecdote of the speaker, rather than some well-written story contrived to make a point.
As well, the “point” of the story need not be a righteous moral. An example:
I sat down on a bench in a shopping mall, dropping my heavy load of shopping bags beside me. Shortly after, a haggard looking old lady sat beside me. I wasn’t paying her much attention until I noticed she was eating a cookie from an open package on the bench between us. MY cookies! She must have slipped it out of one my shopping bags! The nerve!
She looked like she could certainly use something to eat, but I had to respond somehow. So I glared at her as if to say “My cookies” and without breaking eye contact grabbed a cookie and starting eating it. Her expression read slight surprise, but polite. She did the same, grabbed and ate another cookie while looking at me. The audacity! Ratcheting up my “angry look” a degree, I ate another cookie, and she serenly did likewise.
We did this four or five times, when I finally broke down and yelled, “Fine! Just eat the whole package!” and in a huff grabbed my bags and left. It wasn’t until I unpacked my bags at home that I found my package of cookies right where it should be, in the bag untouched.
See what I mean? It’s not a moralistic story, really, rather a “ain’t life that way” kinda snippet. Just a story that, while almost certainly false, should be true, dammit, cuz it’s fun to tell. The only correct way to tell it is as if it were true. I 'spose it’s in the category of urban myth, but less grandiose.