USC Digital Folklore Archives / Adulthood
Adulthood
Childhood
Digital
Humor
Life cycle

Flip Phone Accessories

Informant is a Facebook page that regularly posts memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on 1990’s & 2000’s American youth culture.

Flip Phone Accessories

This particular post shows an early 2000’s cell phone with an excessive amount of Pokemon accessories. Such accessories were a fad in the days of the flip-phone. The Pokemon attached to the phone are from the years 1996 to 2006, highlighting the target audience of this meme page. By combining the retro mobile phone with an excessive amount of once-trendy, Pokemon themed folk objects, this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia for people who grew up in this era.

Adulthood
Childhood
Digital
Humor
Life cycle

Dixie Cup Ness

Informant is a facebook page that regularly posts memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on 1990’s & 2000’s American youth culture.

Dixie Cup Ness

This particular post shows Ness, a character known from successful Nintendo game ‘Super Smash Bros Melee,’ with a retro Dixie cup print on his clothes. By combining the popular 2001 video game character with the distinct folk pattern of 2000’s school cafeteria cups, this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia.

Adulthood
Childhood
Digital
Humor
Life cycle

Supernintendo Chalmers

Informant is a Facebook page that posts only memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on early 2000’s culture.

Supernintendo Chalmers

This particular post shows a Super Nintendo gaming console (1990), with a decal of Superintendent Chalmers of the popular TV show the Simpsons. The pun here is on the words ‘superindendent’ and ‘supernintendo.’ By combining the show known for its success in the 1990’s, with a 1990’s video game console , this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia for people who grew up in this era.

Adulthood
Customs
Initiations
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Great Norwegian Graduation Rager

“So in Norway, when we graduate high school, we have this tradition that the two weeks leading up to our, um, independence day, um, we essentially do college in two weeks. And by that we, uh, everyone essentially has like a startup company where they fund, they get money and they work and they buy a bus. And this bus is to represent a group of people that have together to party on this bus for these two coming weeks. You build this bus to represent you as a group. So you paint it, you have your own song. They usually spend about twenty to forty thousand dollars on these buses. And they pay a couple to three thousand dollars per song or more. People live off this shit. They graduate high school and they just make music for these crazy graduating students. And they have a pretty decent life. Umm, so what you do is you do this and then you buy a suit, you buy like overalls that are completely red and covered in the Norwegian flag, and it’s got different colors. That’s the only time that you’ll ever see these colors in Norway which is why I find it so baffling that people in America keep wearing and wearing their flag everywhere. I guess it’s like weird, it’s like nationalism, which is bad, but for these two weeks in Norway: totally cool. So everyone gets drunk, everyone has sex with each other, there’s a bunch of STD things going on and like a lot of people take precautions so there’s just condoms everywhere in the capital for those two weeks, literally just so that teenagers can just grab them passing by. They’ll be in like metro stations, bus stops, random places there’ll just be like a little cup of condoms because people are just like doing things all the time. So there’s a lot of drugs, a lot of drinking, and you kinda like, you do all of those, you get all your immaturity out. That’s the whole point of it. So by the time you have your independence day, everyone’s so fucking exhausted that when you actually celebrate the day  that you celebrate Independence Day  and that you celebrate your graduation, then finals happen. Afterwards. So it’s a big thing in Norway where people have been trying to get the finals to happen before these two weeks. Because what happens is a lot of, like,  not a lot, but  maybe one out  of twenty people failed their finals because of this tradition. Every year. So they’re trying to change that now. I think it’s going to change this year, but the fact that the government, that all entire Norway works around this insane tradition: just get fucked up and have sex for two weeks? It’s fucking fantastic.”

 

The source definitely looked upon this tradition with a lot of happiness. It seemed to be one of his favorite parts of high school. He said it’s not a very long-standing tradition, but that it’s definitely been around as long as he’s been alive. He says it’s a way for them to release all the pent up stress from the year. It allows them to let loose and do crazy things that, under other circumstances, wouldn’t be allowed.

This tradition seems to come with its own sort of hall pass. It sounds like the kind of thing that these kids would never get away with if only there weren’t so many of them participating in it. That’s probably how it came about in the first place. Some group of kids wanted to let loose, but they knew they’d get in trouble, so they got a whole bunch of people together and went nuts. It probably didn’t fly as much back when it started, but now that it’s mainstream, the whole country probably knows to expect this debauchery and just lets it slide.

What also makes it interesting is that it involves a lot of responsibility. It’s almost like a rite of passage, really, because these kids have to work and save up money in order to be able to afford this massive, two-week rager. They also need to plan and organize it all themselves. Basically, they’re doing very adult things in order to be able to do some very not adult things. Quite the contrast.

Adulthood
Childhood
Foodways

The Kenyan Way to Serve Food

“At any major event, like weddings and parties, the order in which the food is served is very specific. First, all the children are served. Then, the main guests are served. These are like the important people at the party or the bride and groom and their families at a wedding. Once they all have their food and sit down, everyone else gets their food”.

In Kenya, guests at large events where meals are provided are served food in a specific order that must be followed. The events where this tradition takes place are usually gatherings such as parties and weddings. Children are fed first. They are then followed by the significant guests and the rest of the invitees. It is deemed disrespectful to not feed the children first.

The informant, Alastair Odhiambo, is a 19-year-old international student who was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. Alistair and his family have deep roots in the country, so he is confident that he knows a great deal about Kenyan folklore. He was taught this tradition by his mother, who was the parent that was responsible disciplining him and teaching him how to act appropriately in public. Alastair believes this tradition comes from the idea that children need the most amount of sustenance out of everyone else, since they are the most vulnerable. Adults want them to be able to have a long and healthy future, so they choose to wait to be served. To Alastair, this tradition reflects how Kenyans were forced to live before they became a modernized nation. Many children died at a young age, so it made sense to feed them first to hopefully prevent their early demise.

Like Alistair said, it is likely that the food scarcity problems Kenyans had to live through in the past influenced this tradition. Parents had to work extra hard to make sure that their children stayed healthy for as long as possible, so this tradition probably developed out of the desire to make this happen. Even though things like hospitals and modern medicine can help extend the lives of anyone nowadays, this idea seems to have stuck.

Adulthood
Customs
Initiations
Life cycle
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Gold Is A Girl’s Best Friend

“On my mom’s side of the family, because my mom’s side of the family is really rich, um, in India, like, her father’s, like, an advisor to someone super important, and he’s a professor at this like super prestigious university. And they have, like, slaves, and it’s just weird to think of my mom’s family being rich in India when we’re middle-class here. Ummm, but, so, I guess, I think it’s a South Indian tradition, but I know it’s definitely a big thing on her side of the family is when your eighteen-year old daughter or when your daughter turns eighteen years old, you like give her gold, like, just like, whatever every singly side person in my mom’s side of the family sent me something gold for my birthday when I turned eighteen. A lot of gold! It was all like earrings and like necklaces and stuff like that, and I don’t wear any of that, and my mom wouldn’t give it to me because she was like, ‘You’re gonna lose it.’ Umm so I just have all of this gold at home that’s like mine, and yeah, that’s a thing. In Indian culture, like jewelry and like umm that sort of stuff is really important like to the point of being sacred. Ummm, like you have, I don’t know what it’s called, but like the giant ummm nose ring that connects to the earring umm like that is a sacred thing that they wear in like wedding rituals and stuff like that, ummm. So just like, jewelry’s really important and the eighteenth birthday is obviously really important, and I feel like that’s where the tradition comes from.”

 

On top of the jewelry being sacred, this tradition sounds like something that’s done for dowry purposes. Once a woman turns eighteen, she’s of proper marrying age, right? So if she’s of proper marrying age, she’s going to need a dowry and property for when she gets married. The gifting of jewelry and gold marks this transition into womanhood, honors whatever sacredness comes along with this tradition, and also prepares the woman with a dowry in the case of marriage. It just goes to show how much the culture depends on money to reflect who you are as a person. It’s very different from our society. While we do look up to people who have money, it doesn’t seem to reflect on our character as much as it does in India.

Adulthood
general

“You Can’t Sit Here”

Information on the Informant: The informant, Charlie Maloney, is currently a sophomore at USC studying engineering. He is 2o years old and is from Northern California. He attended De la Salle high school in Concord, California which is an all boys christian school. While there, he played rugby and was actively involved in activities on campus. Additionally, he is apart of a fraternity on campus. After attending an all boys school and being a part of a fraternity, Charlie really values the idea of brotherhood.

Informant: “When I was a senior at De la Salle, it was customary that all of us seniors sat at the same spot any time for lunch or a break. My friend group was filled with athletes and it was pretty clear that we were respected by a lot of people within the school. On a few occasions, we found that there were younger kids sitting in our spot. They would always move when we told them simply because they knew that we were older than them and that we sat there every day. However, on one occasion, they refused to move and we started yelling at them. The dean of men (a very authoritative and scary figure) came over and actually started yelling at the sophomores to get out of our spot as opposed to yelling at us for getting mad at the younger kids. Obviously they moved and we got our spot back.”

Analysis: This particular folklore of claiming a piece of land or spot because of seniority hits home for me simply because I also attended an all boys school and faced the same issue on some occasions. In a typical brotherhood it is customary that those who are older or have had more experience within the brotherhood get priority over things. In this case it was a table for lunch at a high school.

Adulthood
general
Initiations

Cigars on Graduation Day

Information on the Informant: The informant for this collection is my brother who currently is a Junior at Georgetown and studying Business. He plays football there and is very involved in Business clubs and intramural sports. He is an incredibly avid sports fan and follows football, baseball, basketball, and hockey very closely. He attended Loyola High school, the same school that I went to, which is an all-boys Jesuit school in downtown Los Angeles. While there he was the starting quarterback of the football team and also led numerous retreats while holding a position on student council.

The tradition from the informant:

“After every single graduation ceremony for the seniors at Loyola, it is an unwritten tradition for all the graduates to smoke a cigar after the diplomas are passed out. I don’t know why it started but it is mostly just a symbol of our next chapter in life, where we are older and more mature. It is one of those traditions where the younger students look at it as a sign of success because in order to do it you have to graduate. Some of the faculty aren’t too fond of it because it can be dangerous having hundreds of cigars lit up in a small area but all the students do it regardless because they all feel as if they deserve it.”

Analysis: This example of smoking cigars after a graduation, or an initiation into the next chapter of life, is a good example of a ritual done in order to enter into adulthood. Additionally, the tradition makes sense that it occurs at an all guys school because typically smoking cigars is something that guys enjoy more than girls do. Not to say that girls don’t smoke cigars but simply that it is typically done by men. Also, one other notable thing is that the cigars are usually fancy cigars that are purchased by the father’s of the sons who are smoking the cigars. The father buying the cigar is a symbol of initiation into adulthood after high school.

Adulthood
Childhood
general
Legends
Life cycle
Myths
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays
Tales /märchen

Bloody Mary

  1. My friend heard this version of “Bloody Mary” from another friend: “A long time ago, there was a girl named Mary. She lived with her father and mother, one year, she got very sick and fell into a coma. She was in a coma for 3 months, and then the doctor finally said that Mary was pronounced dead. But her parents thought she would come back alive so they got her in a coffin and buried her in their front yard, but they left a little hole in the coffin and through the dirt and put a string in it that was attached to a bell and put it in her hand. They waited for hours and when they were about to go in, they heard the bell. They dug her up as fast as they could but by that time, she was dead and her finger nails were all off and she was all bloody, (this is how she got named Bloody Mary) and it turns out, her parents beat her before she got sick and now she haunts because she thinks that the people that are her victims are her parents and she wants them to suffer just like her.” “If you want to summon Bloody Mary, and face her wrath, you have to go to the bathroom, turn off all of the lights, look straight into the mirror, and say ‘Bloody Mary’ thirteen times.”
  2. My friend heard this tale back when he was in elementary school, from another one of his classmates. He remembered being so afraid to even go into the bathroom after hearing this story, and it still has stuck with him ever since this time.
  3. Bloody Mary has been retold many times, in many different ways. This story is especially popular among elementary and middle school students.
  4. I also remember hearing this story when I was younger. As I got older, I do not recall anyone ever speaking about Bloody Mary, or even mentioning it. When I was younger I was also frightened by this story as well, since I remember I actually believed in it.

*For another version of this tale, see:

Richardson, Jancy. “The Tragic True Story of the Real Life Bloody Mary.” Moviepilot.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016. <http://moviepilot.com/posts/2822134>.

Adulthood
Childhood
general
Humor
Initiations
Life cycle
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Senior Prank Gone Wrong

  1. My friend told me about the worst senior prank to have ever been executed at his high school.

“So the seniors decided to do something REALLY big this year. They wanted to be different. To be remembered is the year that did THAT prank, what they believed to be the best prank you could ever have done. So you know what they did? They thought it’d be the greatest idea to start a food fight that involved the entire school. Only, they would be the only ones with the actual food, so really it was more like a food attack instead of a food fight. So what they did was, equip the entire senior class with gigantic water guns filled with condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayo, oil, vinegar, etc. On top of that, they had burgers, hot dogs, and other cheap foods they could make a large supply of quickly and easily stuffed into large trash bags. They went all over campus, pelting all the underclassmen with food and sauces, and even accidentally hit some of the teachers. At the end of what seemed to be hours, students were crying, getting pulled out of their classes by their parents, many were injured when trying to run away since there were huge crowds of students running in all directions attempting to avoid getting hit. It was a crazy day. The aftermath was awful too, our campus was covered in trash, and stains from all of the food. We live by the beach too so all of the seagulls came on campus and basically infested the place for weeks. It took so much time and money to clean everything up. The principal was so angry, they actually contemplated stopping the seniors from graduating that year. Senior pranks were also banned completely after this incident. It was a horrible idea.”

  1. Since he was actually there when this prank took place, he remembers it all very clearly. He still even has some photos and videos he took while all of this was happening. It was definitely a sad event for him, he was a sophomore when this happened, since he was so excited about taking part in senior pranks when he finally became a senior. But this prank ruined it for all of the future senior classes, unfortunately.
  2. This prank should never again be replicated, but the story can be shared as a warning as to what can happen when you take a joke or a prank too far. There certainly are limits to what you can do, and you should definitely keep this in mind if you’re deciding on trying a senior prank with your class.
  3. I actually was there as well when this happened, so I remember this pretty clearly. I was more upset by the fact that my friend actually broke her leg trying to run away from the people throwing food and condiments. It was a sad day for sure, and I’d hope that no other senior classes try something like this.
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