Author Archives: Vivian Gray

Letter “E” Word Riddle

SB: I have one riddle that I know. And it’s what starts with E and ends with E and has one letter in the middle…

VG: Eye.

SB: No (laughs)-

VG: Oh, ha!

SB: Eye? Starts with E, ends with E, has one letter in the middle.

VG: Eye

SB: What?!

VG: E.Y.E.

SB: Oh, I guess that works too. The riddle is honestly not that exciting- it’s an envelope.

VG: Oh, haha! Where’d you learn that?

SB: Um, well, when I was little I was really into riddles, so I had a little riddle book that my parents gave me, and that’s the only riddle I remember from it…

VG: When did you use the riddles? Just on the- friends?

SB: Yes, I used it as a way to make friends. I thought it would make me more popular. It did with the weird kids, but generally it was not a big hit. That’s why I only remember one.

 

Background:

Location of story – Denver, CO

Location of Performance – SB’s dormitory room, Los Angeles, CA, night

 

Context: This performance was done just between SB and I in response to me asking if she had any urban legends, riddles, or holiday traditions. I am very close friends with SB. This story follows one about a conspiracy theory about the Denver airport being linked to Satan.

 

Analysis: This is a prime example of how riddles have been used historically as a social tools. SB was able to implement these in order to demonstrate her own wit to potential friends as well as vet them herself to see if they enjoyed the performance. It is also interesting to note that my answer fit the prompt, but she would still not accept it because that was not how the riddle has historically been performed. It does not matter if my answer is correct because it is not the one that she desired. To me, this demonstrates that the riddles people choose to perform are extremely personal and reflect personal preference, just as choosing clothing or music might indicate.

Denver Airport Is the Portal to Hell

SB: Um, the Denver airport…is notorious for being at the very least the basis of a conspiracy theory and at the most the actual portal to hell (laughs) so, the- Denver generally with its airports have been very problematic. The first one was the Stapleton airport. Stapleton was a member of the KKK, and they named the airport after him, but then they decided to turn that into a neighborhood, so they moved the airport out into the boonies. It’s like an hour after from the city, it’s huge, there’s these like iconic white tents, and the myth is that underground, there are tunnels that are used for the government, for their nefarious activities, and um…some crazy people – to be perfectly honest – believe that within those tunnels and somewhere in the Denver airport is an actual, um, portal to Hell…where Satan himself resides. What’s also kinda scary about the airport is there’s a giant blue horse sculpture with glowing red eyes that you drive past as you are on your way to catch a flight. And when the sculpture was putting it up, the horse fell over and killed him…and then his son, or daughter i’m not sure, his child- finished the sculpture and now it stands, but it’s haunted because the sculpture actually killed someone and at night, it’s eyes glow bright red and it’s terrifying and everything about the airport terrifies me.

 

Background:

Location of story – Denver, CO

Location of Performance – SB’s dormitory room, Los Angeles, CA, night

 

Context: This performance was done just between SB and I in response to me asking if she had any urban legends, riddles, or holiday traditions. I am very close friends with SB.

 

Analysis: At the base of this conspiracy theory, there is an association between very real hate and evil with more metaphysical, faith oriented evil. It is almost a way to be able to digest the history of the Denver airport: the only explanation for that level of bias and hate is that it is prompted by the devil’s proximity. It is also interesting to note how that association affects all other aspects of the airport that would have otherwise stood as an independent legend – i.e. the horse. I myself have heard about the conspiracy theory that the Denver airport has some nefarious activity, but I have never heard that it is an actual portal to hell. Prior to this performance, my knowledge of the conspiracy theory primary focused on the suspicious design of the physical space itself. For example, there are photos of the aerial view of the airport, resembling a swastika, the barbed wire faces in and not out, and in the background of all the idyllic, pastoral murals, there are depictions of war and violence among other disturbing images. The significance of the design of this airport is related to the presence of many celebrities’ and powerful individuals homes around the airport: they do not live there but they have bought property there. When I was told all the details by my friend, she explained that ultimately, all this meant that it must be some sort of refuge for the rich, famous, and/or powerful if the apocalypse were to eventually happen. 

Setting Leprechaun Traps

SB: I did not have a lot of holiday traditions specifically, but what I did have was for St. Patrick’s Day, my parents were very excited in me believing in things, especially fantasy things, so they really pushed me into strongly believing in leprechauns. And so, every year me and my brother would get like boxes from like our Costco trips, or like, collect things around the house and make traps for the leprechauns, and they- the next day, they would leave us like a gold dollar coin, but it was just my mom, and so one day – I really believed in it – and so I brought this coin the next day to school to third grade and I told all of my friends that I captured a leprechaun but like it escaped but it left me gold and then they all made fun of me (laughs) but I still believed in the leprechauns for like a really long time.

VG: How long?

SB: Um, probably until I was like nine years old.

VG: That’s like…on the edge.

SB: Yeah, it was on the edge of a long time. I think it’s because everyone just kept telling me they were not real, and so I just like wanted to fit in, so I left my belief of leprechauns.

 

Background:

Location of story – Denver, CO

Location of Performance – SB’s dormitory room, Los Angeles, CA, night

 

Context: This performance was done just between SB and I in response to me asking if she had any urban legends, riddles, or holiday traditions. I am very close friends with SB. This story follows one about a conspiracy theory about the Denver airport being linked to Satan, a word riddle, and a CD of folk songs.

 

Analysis: This performance is notable for its detailed description of the “personalization” a traditional Irish folk creature. What I mean to say is that SB and her brother were able to adopt a folk creature and myth that is not traditionally their own by creating physical spaces based on how they imagined the creature. I think it is very interesting that this is the one holiday tradition SB chose to identity because St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally not as celebrated as Easter or Christmas. Moreover, leprechauns are not as actively believed in as the Easter Bunny or Santa Clause in my experience. I myself celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and have never heard of setting Leprechaun traps before. In addition to these observations, I also think this tradition demonstrates the strange social duality with belief in mythical creatures and beings. On one hand, kids can bond over shared believes, but as soon as one peer becomes a non-believer, their believing peer is seen as less mature or cool. Therefore, having one’s belief in mythical creatures challenged is now a rite of passage. 

Dreams Predict Death

VG: Ok, so you said you have a superstition?

AM: I am 99% sure I know how I’m gonna die and when.

VG: Uh-how?

AM: Once a month, I have the same exact dream where I’m driving in a car during the rain and ss- what is it- we end up hydroplaning and falling on train tracks and not um having enough time to get off the car and getting hit by a dream. What is it- every month the dream changes just a little bit, but it’s always us driving, hydroplaning, and then ch- hitting a ditch.

VG: So you believe in the power of recurring dreams?

AM: Yes. Every month for the past three years.

VG: Do you know the specific day?

AM: No. All I know is is it’s raining really bad and we’re on the highway.

VG: Wow…who’s- you say we, whose in the car?

AM: Usually, my dad, my mom, and me.

VG: Wow…have you told them about it?

AM: Nope..not yet.

 

Background:

Location of Story – Variable, Southern California

Location of Performance – Dormitory room, Los Angeles, CA, night

 

Context:  This performance took place in a group setting – about 2-3 people – in a college dormitory room. This performance was prompted by the call for stories about beliefs, ghosts, or superstitions as examples of folklore. This story came after a few others from a friend in response to the prompt “weird beliefs.”

 

Analysis: This a great example about the folklore and folk belief in reoccurring dreams because it offers such a precise description of what AM experiences in the dream. This precision is most likely because of the recent development of this recurring and very consistent dream. I also think it is interesting to note the absence of supernatural elements of this story. Frequently, people have monsters, paranormal activity, etc. in their dreams, so the fact that this story is based in reality effectively conveys the idea that this could be an omen – it is much closer to things that could actually occur. Possibly, the realistic narrative of the dream is related to the recent development of this dream. AM is a college freshman, so this dream could reflect feelings of fear about growing older and separating from the family. 

Additional reading: Kaivola-Bregenhøj, Annikki. “Dreams as folklore.” Fabula 34 (1993): 211-224. This article offers a great explanation about dreamlore as well as the relative novelty of its performance.