Author Archives: Michael McBride

Dunking for Luck

Every time you eat any kind of cookies with tea, you had to dunk at least once and say “Good luck”.

 

I don’t know where it comes from, but dunking a cookie into tea is good luck. When eating a cookie with a beverage, it is bad luck not to dunk at least once. My mother would say she was “dunking for good luck” and that her father did it too. But I only remember it with tea.

 

Her father was English so it might have had something to do with the tea. Because tea and the tea industry is supposed to have such positive connotations in England, maybe this is a subconscious way of developing and maintaining those positive connotations as an extension of British cultural identity in America.

Blonde on the Run

There’s a blonde a brunette and a redhead one the run from the cops so they run into this barn. And there’s these three stables in the barn, so they all run into a different one. And they go and look in the stables, and the brunette is hiding behind the horse, so she goes “neigh”, so they think it’s just a horse. And then the redhead is hiding behind a cow so she got s”moo”. And finally the blonde is hiding behind a sack of potatoes, so she goes “Nothing here but a sack of potatoes.”

It’s funny because blondes are stupid!

This was told to me by a white, upper middle class person. I think that this is a racist joke that is acceptable in our culture, so his conservative attitude would allow him to tell this. Also, there are more fake blondes on the west coast, and he is from Jersey.

El Cipitio

El Cipitio—it’s supposed to be La Sigunaba’s son, but he’s old but he looks like a 10 year old kid. He’s big and fat but he tries to be a ten year old kid. He haunts little children. He’s basically a midget trying to be a little kid- he has a wrinkled face and he pulls it back to have a younger face. He looks like a kid from far away but you can tell when you’re close. His feet are backwards. He was a love child from La Sigunaba and some other thing.

 

Told to little kids to not go out in the fields at night in El Salvador. It keeps them inside.

 

I believe that this was actually about the social taboo of having a baby out of wedlock—told to children so that they would develop negative associations with it. Also, his features are surprisingly close to kids with various deformities. I think the idea is, although this is a gross way of expressing it, ‘don’t have a baby out of wedlock or it will be retarded’.

La Sigunaba

La Siguanaba—basically, she’s like, she comes out and she’s like, a beautiful woman and they she like kills you. There’s this story where this guy was close to a river, and she was on the other side of the river, and he sees her and sees her face, and then she killed him.

 

We’d hear about it when your parents were telling you not to go out alone and talk to strangers.

 

I think that this is a classic cautionary tale– but more importantly, it comes from a predominantly Catholic community. The fact that she is beautiful is very significant. I think it is a tale to keep people chaste- warning against the dangers of sex.

Dog Placebo in India

There was this tour group of mostly Americans touring India in the early 60’s. And most of them were middle aged people, some retirees. And they um, they were going to see what the real rural villages were like. And when they got to one of the rural villages in Northwest india the people there were expecting the tour bus, and they put out food for the people on the bus. The people didn’t want to offend the villagers, but at the same time the figured the food was sitting out in hundred degree heat with no refridgeration. And so they watched a little boy sneak some of the food and give it to his dog, and the dog eagerly ate the whole thing, whatever the boy had in his hand. So the people surmised that if the dog ate the food, it should be alright. And so everyone chowed down, ate the food and enjoyed it. And about an hour and a half later, while they were sitting underneath in the shade of a tree digesting their meal and feeling good about life, the little boy came back into the village, crying that his dog had just died. The people looked at eachother, and all of a sudden they started feeling queasy, and a lot of them were saying “I told you so”. And then one of the people started throwing up. And soon several people were throwing up. And before too long, almost every member of the tour group was clutching their bellies with either vomiting or diarrhea or both. The tour bus operator actually got on the bus and drove the buss to the next village so he could notify the police who in turn notified the army. And within about another tow hours, the people were now deathly ill, all were sick, and the army came with medics and helicopters to the village, and started IVs and put some of the people on stretchers. And one of the doctors that was investigating was filling out a sheet about what happened- taking samples and everything. And the investigating officer asked where the dog was to the little boy. And the boy said the dog was about a mile down the road in a ditch. And the investigating officer asked him how it got in the ditch. And he said “That’s where the dog crawled to after he got hit by the car.”

 

This shows how powerful the mind is. Your mind can make a heaven or a hell out of circumstances. Nothing to do with facts. Or, it doesn’t necessarily. I first heard it in the early 60’s.

 

I think this is a combination of anxiety about India as more people started travelling there in the 60’s, and the counterculture belief that arose with the drug use and attitude of the 60’s that the mind can do anything. It reminds me a lot of the ‘Mexican Rat’ story in certain aspects.

Uncle Eddie at Sea

When I was a kid, I always heard a story about an uncle that fell asleep in the ocean and drifted out into the sea. He went for a swim in a tire thing, you know? And he went too far out in the ocean. And fell asleep. And he was never heard from again.

 

It was my Great Aunt’s first husband. If memory serves me right, my Mom thought it was the story but there was a lot more to it. They told it to the kids so they wouldn’t swim too far out in the ocean. We’d hear it whenever we went to the beach, “Don’t go too far out, remember Uncle Eddie.”

 

This both serves as a cautionary tale to prevent children from going out too far into the ocean and a clever way to disguise her Aunt’s probable divorce or other such thing you wouldn’t want to talk to kids about. But telling them that he drifted out to sea, it serves a practical purpose and help her avoid the awkwardness of actually explaining to children why her husband left her.

Dominoes

Every time my extended family gets together (we don’t play it with my nuclear family) we have to play dominoes. The general rules are that you start off, everyone takes eleven pieces from the piles, you put it in the middle, theres this little board we made (a little cardboard octagon that you put the piece in the middle and it points at the people playing the game). Whoever goes first has to start their own train — you have one domino where one half of it matches whatever the starting piece was. Each person does this then you have to add to your train with matching ends. If you can’t add you eat from the pile and people yell “Neccesitas comer”. The point of the game is to get rid of all your pieces. You can open a public train to add to to. If you can’t add to your own, any one can add to yours. Everyone has a literal plastic train that you put on your train when it is open. When you have the last piece, you have to say “Ultimo” or you have to eat.

We’ve only ever played during holidays and when friends come over. My family is not very happy, but when we play that game everyone is happy and there is food. Good memories.

I think that the ‘train’ rhetoric and the very act of playing dominoes MIGHT be related to Mexican culture in the sense of they represent wealth in a way, but more importantly I think it brings multiple people (at least 8) together (which makes sense for big Mexican families). Her family used to be two rival families, so maybe it was a way of bringing them together.

 

Los Peces en el Rio

Pero mira como beben los peces en el rio (But look at how the fish in the river drink)

Pero mira como beben por ver a Dios nacido (But look at how they drink because they saw God’s birth)

Beben y beben y vuelven a beber, (they drink and drink and keep on drinking)

Pero mira como beben por ver a Dios nacer. (But look at how they drink because they saw God be born)

(God=jesus. this is a christmas song)

 

This is a song we sing at Christmas. The birth of God is the birth of Jesus.

 

I think that this is an attempt to justify their religious identity. In actuality, it’s a bit of a logical fallacy, but they are trying to associate something that is not necessarily proven to be true (birth of god) with something that is constant and happens all the time, and they witness (the fish ‘drinking’ in the river). The artist Gipsy Kings recorded this, and were quite successful– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhSjqnKNgvo

Guys falls off motorcycle at red light

This a common motorcycle story I’ve heard from several people, especially when I was first learning to ride a motorcycle, and it always happened to someone they knew. Someone was touring on a motorcycle, and when you ride a motorcycle, and you’re on the highway, your feet are on the footrests, because you don’t need your feet to balance when you’re riding fast. This guy was on this long trip, and gets off at the ramp, gets to the bottom of the ramp, puts the brake on, forgets to put his feet down, and the bike falls over to the side. He drove over a hundred miles on the highway to see a Bruce Springsteen concert without a problem. On the way home, he gets all the way back to his hometown, and gets off at the ramp. There’s a red light, so he stops his bike falls and he ends up in the hospital with a broken leg.

 

It’s a warning to not be complacent, ever, no matter how easy it is when you’re driving a motorcycle.

 

Motorcycling is inherently dangerous,a nd so I think that this story is some kind of way to regain control, and more importantly, to imply that tragic things that happen to people on motorcycles happen because of their own stupidity. It is an attempt to take out some of the unknown variables of motorcycling.

Baby in Mirror

Pablo:

 

You shouldn’t put babies in front of the mirror.

 

They would get sick if you put them in front of the mirror.

 

I think that this is a distrust of technology. The same thing occurs in Feng Shui– it’s bad luck to put a mirror at the foot of your bed. I think it is a natural resistance to relatively new things, and the fear associated with seeing one’s reflection in a mirror.