Author Archives: Troy Furniss

Grandma’s Joke

Informant: My informant, M.A., is 18 and was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. M.A. parents both work as corporate lawyers and he hopes to pursue the same career. M.A. is also a practicing Catholic and is strongly connected to his religion. He has one brother and two sisters with the family being almost fully Americanized but still hold on to some of his Syrian heritage.

Folklore: “So there is this child and his grandpa. One day the little boy sees that his grandpa is drinking some whiskey from a glass and the boy asks his grandpa, ‘Hey, can I take a sip of that whiskey?’ The grandpa responds by saying, ‘Does your dick touch your asshole?’ The little boy answers back and says, ‘No.’ The next day the little boy sees his grandpa smoking a cigar and boy asks his grandpa, ‘Hey, can I get a puff of that cigar?’ And again the grandpa responds by saying, ‘Does your dick touch your asshole?’ Again the little boy responds, ‘No.’ The next day the grandpa sees the little boy eating a plate of freshly baked cookies and the grandpa asks the boy, ‘Hey, can I have one of your cookies?’ The little boy responds and says, ‘Does your dick touch your asshole?’ The grandpa smiles and replies, ‘Yes.’ The little boy looks up and says, ‘Then go fuck yourself!’” Surprisingly, M.A. was told this story from his grandma who said it was her husband’s favorite joke when they were younger. He says that he only tells the joke with a group of guys but is definitely one of his favorite dirty jokes he has ever heard.

Analysis: I loved the joke and the way M.A. performed it. I was shocked to find out when he told me his grandma told him the joke because that would probably be the last person who you would expect to tell you a joke like that. For me, I am a huge fan of guy/dirty jokes but I do believe there is a time and place for every joke and I probably wouldn’t tell this joke in front of girls.

Mother Proverb

Informant: My informant, S. G., is 19 and was born and raised in Southern California. S. G. lives in Chino Hills and has two mothers who both work as P.E. teachers for high school and middle schools. She has one older sister and one younger brother with the family having ties to its Swedish heritage.

Folklore: “A son is a son until he gets married, but a daughter is a daughter forever.” S.G. heard this saying from her mom before she left for college. The saying is meant to show that a son will get married one day and his wife will fill the gap left by the mother, but a daughter will always need the help of her mother to guide her. Her mom told her this to show her that she’ll always be there for.

Analysis: I agree with the saying above in terms of how women have such a large impact on male lives and how we rely on them more than we know. It’s also symbolic of the special bond shared between mother and daughter.

Annunciation Phrase

Informant: My informant, S. G., is 19 and was born and raised in Southern California. S.G. lives in Chino Hills and has two mothers who both work as P.E. teachers for high school and middle schools. She has one older sister and one younger brother with the family having ties to its Swedish heritage.

Folklore: “How no brown cow, green green grass.” This piece of folklore is a nonsense phrase meant to be practiced by young children to learn proper annunciation when speaking. Sawyer and her siblings were all taught this phrase growing up from their parents and were meant to repeat it at least once a day. S.G. claims she was forced to practice the phrase until she reached 6th grade.

Analysis: There is no actual proof that this phrase will actually correct a child’s annunciation, but I suppose there is no harm in practicing anyway. S.G. and both her siblings all pronounce their words perfectly so there is no proof to say it doesn’t work.

Typing Drill

Informant: My informant, S. G. is 19 and was born and raised in Southern California. Sawyer lives in Chino Hills and has two mothers who both work as P.E. teachers for high school and middle schools. She has one older sister and one younger brother with the family having ties to its Swedish heritage.

Folklore: “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.” This phrase was meant to act as a way to improve your typing skills when people still used typewriters. Sawyer’s mom learned this when she was in college and was a common drill used to teach beginners. She later taught S. G. when she began learning how to type but doesn’t have the same practical meaning when being performed on a computer.

Analysis: The reason why people used this phrase as a typewriter drill was because it filled the 70 space line on a paper rather than being the best phrase to teach typing. Today, there are new drills being used to teach typing but this phrase did come up when I was learning how to type in middle school.

Why?

Informant: My informant, M.A., is 18 and was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. M.A. parents both work as corporate lawyers and he hopes to pursue the same career. M.A. is also a practicing Catholic and is strongly connected to his religion. He has one brother and two sisters with the family being almost fully Americanized but still hold on to some of his Syrian heritage.

Folklore: “I took a Psychology class in high school, and my professor was known to post one short, open ended question for the class to analyze and write a minimum of 10 pages in a blue book that would be worth. When the class showed up to take the final, the professor gets up and writes down one word on the board. ‘Why?’ Immediately, all of the students start writing frantically listing different theories or concepts and citing famous psychologists throughout history. However, there was one student who wrote down two words, got up and turned in his book, and left the class. The other students were confused and curious as to what he wrote down that would decide the fate of his grade. Later, when everyone was getting their grade back they found out that the student wrote down the simple phrase, ‘Why not?’ and received the only “A” on the final. M.A. was told this story from his father multiple times when growing up. His dad told him the message to take away from the story is to be confident in what you believe in regardless of what everyone else is doing and if you want to win big you have to be willing to risk big.

Analysis: I like this story and it reminds me of a story my dad would tell me. The story is meant to show that anyone who has ever done anything great usually had to take at least one or more huge chances at some point in their career. If you want to get remembered you have to be bold enough to risk everything.

For more information on this story, see http://www.snopes.com/college/exam/oneword.asp

St. Joseph

Informant: My informant, M.A., is 18 and was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. M.A. parents both work as corporate lawyers and he hopes to pursue the same career. M.A. is also a practicing Catholic and is strongly connected to his religion. He has one brother and two sisters with the family being almost fully Americanized but still hold on to some of his Syrian heritage.

Folklore: “The patron saint of homes and real estate purchases is considered to be St. Joseph. The myth goes that if you are ever having a hard time trying to sell your house, you are supposed to bury a statue of St. Joseph head first in the backyard. If you complete this then the process of selling your house will be completed much quicker and smoothly.” M.A. heard this piece of folklore from an old neighbor in Connecticut who was having trouble selling his house. M.A. claimed that the neighbor did perform this task, but was not able to sell his house for another six months afterwards. M.A. is still strongly connected with his religion and does believe in these quirky traditions, but he also feels like people should not rely completely on these myths.

Analysis: I have never heard this myth before, but I did think it was peculiar as to why you would need to bury a statue of St. Joseph head first or even bury him at all in the backyard. These little stories might not actually provide any help like it did to Matt’s neighbor, but it is used mainly as a way to give people hope when they feel like they have done everything in their power to sell their house.

St. Anthony

Informant: My informant, M.A., is 18 and was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. M.A. parents both work as corporate lawyers and he hopes to pursue the same career. M.A. is also a practicing Catholic and is strongly connected to his religion. He has one brother and two sisters with the family being almost fully Americanized but still hold on to some of his Syrian heritage.

Folklore: “The patron saint of lost items is known to be St. Anthony. The myth goes that if you lose an item, you say a prayer to St. Anthony that goes, ‘St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come down. Something is lost and can’t be found.’ If you were to repeat this ten times then St. Anthony will help you find your lost item.” M.A. was taught this prayer from his mom at a very young age and was a commonly known story in his town. According to M.A., he says that his prayers have rarely ever been answered, but still performs the prayer regardless every time he loses an object because he figures it doesn’t hurt to try it.

Analysis: I was told this prayer from my parents when I was growing up, but the only thing that was different was that I didn’t repeat the prayer ten times. I felt that when I was a kid this prayer seemed to work a lot more than it does now, but I too still perform the prayer because it usually gets to the point where I’m desperate to find the item. Saying the prayer just gives me that small amount of reassurance that I might actually find my lost item but with my experience it’s usually gone for good.

Hawaiian Warriors

Informant: My informant, D.L., is 20 and was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. D.L. mother works as an admissions director for his high school. He has one older brother who also attends USC. Both of D.L. parents are full Chinese, but have completely adopted the Hawaiian culture. D.L. spends most of his free time at the beach and considers himself more Hawaiian than Chinese.

Folklore: “There is a rule in Hawaii that you’re not supposed to whistle at night. The night marchers are ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors and they’re said to roam the islands at night visiting old battlefields and sacred sites. Whistling at night is said to summon the huakai po (night marchers). If you make eye contact with the night marchers, you’ll die and be forced to march with them for all of eternity. If you happen to have an ancestor marching, however, no one in the procession can harm you.” D.L. was told this story from one of his teachers in elementary school to try and scare the kids in his class as a joke. D.L. doesn’t actually believe in the myth and thinks of it as just a story to scare kids.

Analysis: This myth is more of a ghost story that sounds familiar to a story I heard when I was growing up. I look at this myth as just a scary story and nothing more.

For more information on the myth, see http://www.to-hawaii.com/legends/night-marchers.php

Demigod Maui

Informant: My informant, D.L., is 20 and was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. D.L. mother works as an admissions director for his high school. He has one older brother who also attends USC. Both of D.L. parents are full Chinese, but have completely adopted the Hawaiian culture. D.L. spends most of his free time at the beach and considers himself more Hawaiian than Chinese.

Folklore: “There is the Legend of how the demigod, Maui, was the one who created the Hawaiian Islands. Maui is said to have created Hawaii’s islands by tricking his brothers. He convinces them to take him out fishing, but instead catches his hook upon the ocean floor. He tells his brothers that he has caught a big fish, and tells them to paddle as hard as they can. His brothers paddle with all their might, and being intent with their effort, did not notice the island rising behind them. Maui repeats this trick several times, creating the Hawaiian Islands.” D.L. heard this legend growing up in school from his parents when he asked how the islands were created. He was also told after the islands really came to be with volcanoes, but he was more interested in the story version. D.L. likes how this story is a part of his culture and likes telling people about these myths.

Analysis: I really enjoyed this story and think it’s a fun and creative way to tell children how something so incredible and hard to believe could have happened. This story reminds me of the legend of Paul Bunyan and how he created the Grand Canyon when he dragged his axe behind him when he was tired after a long day’s work. It is interesting to see how similar stories originate in completely different cultures.

Summer Sun

Informant: My informant, D.L., is 20 and was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. D.L. mother works as an admissions director for his high school. He has one older brother who also attends USC. Both of D.L. parents are full Chinese, but have completely adopted the Hawaiian culture. D.L. spends most of his free time at the beach and considers himself more Hawaiian than Chinese.

Folklore: “Māui’s next feat is to stop the sun from moving so fast. His mother Hina complains that her kapa (bark cloth) is unable to dry because the days are so short. Māui climbs to the mountain Hale-a-ka-lā (house of the sun) and lassoes the sun’s rays as the sun comes up, using a rope made from his sister’s hair. The sun pleads for life and agrees that the days shall be long in summer and short in winter.” D.L. was told this story from his teacher in elementary school. The legend, Maui, plays a large role in Hawaiian folklore and is the basis of many creation stories.

Analysis: This is a fun legend that is told to kids in Hawaii. This reminds me of summer and how the days get longer. I have great memories in the summer from staying out later at the beach with the sun still out.