Contextual Data: I asked a friend of mine if there was any particular drinking game that she enjoyed playing, and she mentioned this game “Kings” or “King’s Cup.” I’d heard of the game once before, and I asked her if she could explain to me how it was played and why she enjoyed it so much. The following is an exact transcript of her response.
“Um, okay, so… Kings is like a great game to play with like a whole bunch of people, because, well, you’re drinking, you’re all sitting in a circle, maybe you don’t really know everyone. So first you get a deck of cards, and you—everyone has cups, and of course, various alcohols, so whatever everyone is drinking, um… Maybe different pops or whatever or, like, mixed drinks. So you put one cup in the center of the deck of cards that you lay out in a circle in, like, kind of a fan around the center cup. And… Basically everyone just goes around and picks up a card when it’s their turn. So… I guess like… There’s rules, basically, that correspond with each card. I guess I can go over the rules.
“So when you get an Ace, um… I, I mean all the rules involve drinking. So every time you pick a card, something on that card is going to tell you an instruction on what you have to drink, how you have to drink it, um, who’s going to get stuck drinking, basically. And the point of the King’s cup is that as you go on, people are pouring, like, different things like their drink into that specific cup. And, um… it gets grosser and grosser, and at the end, the person who loses is gonna have to chug that disgusting, like, gross cup. Um, so…
“When you pull the cards—So you get an Ace. And if someone gets an Ace, um…it’s called ‘Waterfall,’ so the person who gets the card can, um, start drinking—whatever time they want—they start to drink whatever drink they have in their cup, and they can stop at any time, and—Oh! Everyone’s drinking at the same time. So everyone, um, in the circle of friends or whoever, starts drinking at the same time that person does, and then they can stop whenever they want, the next person can stop whenever they want, and that means the person next to them gets to stop whenever they want. So, basically, everyone’s getting screwed. Like, everyone’s getting plastered. Um, the second rule—a Two means You, so when it gets to Two, you have to drink. Three means Me, um, so—Oh wait. No. Two means You, so when you pick a Two you can designate someone that has to—so you like point to a person that you…has to take a drink. Three means Me, so when you pick that, um, you yourself have to drink. Four… Drinking games are sexist so Four means Whores, and all the women, um, in the group have to drink. That annoys me [Laughs]. As a side note. Um…Five means Jive. It’s like a really fun one. Um…Every—The person who picks it has to do a dance move, and the next person—in the circle—has to add on to it. And everyone’s probably drunk, so you have to keep building on to those dance moves, and if someone messes up, like the sequence, they have to drink. Um…It’s always fun to watch drunk people try and dance. And…Six means Dicks. More sexism. The men have to drink. Um…Yeah [Laughs]. That’s problematic. Then Seven is Heaven. Um…Everyone—the person who gets the card reaches up and puts both hands up to…touch the sky [Mimes putting both hands straight up in the air]. And the last person to notice and put their hands up has to drink. So if you’re not paying attention or, like, you’re just drunk or like, ‘What’s Seven mean?’ you get screwed and you have to drink. Um…Eight means Mate. So this is where you can pick someone and for the rest of the game when you have to drink—so when you are the last one to do the Seven Heaven thing or something that person has to drink too. And that’s a really good way to… Whatever. Either get back at someone or flirt with someone or whatever. Um, lets see. That was Eight—Eight means Mate. Nine is Rhyme. So…Someone—The person who draws the Nine thinks of a word and then everyone else after them has to, um, think of a rhyme to that word. And if they…The last person to either repeat the—something that someone’s already said or not be able to think of one has to drink. Um, Ten is Catagories. It’s like a similar idea, I guess. Um, so you pick a category, like ‘types of cereal’ or like… I don’t—Anything, really. It…In a party situation people usually pick something like…More vulgar. So ‘types of sexual positions’ or something and just like…Yeah. Interesting ways of getting people talking. And the last person—like the same thing with the rhyme—the last person to either mess up, not be able to think of one, or something else that someone’s already said has to drink. And then Eleven…Oh. No. There’s no Eleven in cards [Laughs]. Jack. Um, people play it differently, I guess. Like, there’s different rules, but when I play it, it just means, like, Jack means Back. I think other people play, like, Jack means, like, ‘Never Have I Ever’ or something. But that’s like a little aggressive to me…I don’t know. Um, Jack to Back is easier. So the person to the…Um, right of where you’re sitting when you pick the Jack has to drink. And… Queen is Question Master. So when the person draws the Queen, um, they kind of, like, don’t tell anyone. They might just say, like, ‘Oh, I got the Queen. I’m Question Master.’ But maybe no one notices and so that person, um, whenever they ask questions from that point—‘till someone else draws a Queen—they’re the Question Master, and if you answer—if someone playing answers the question that they’re asking, um, you have to drink. So, you can really mess with people because you just ask them, like, ‘Hey, is there anymore, like, in that cup or anything?’ If they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah! I can see some—Aww, you made me drink, like [Laughs], fuck you.’ Um [Laughs]. And…The King is like the whole point of the game—the King’s Cup. So when you get a King, you get to pick a rule for the game, like—same thing with the Queen, until someone else gets the King. And, um…The… So you might make a rule, like, ‘No swearing.’ And everyone’s drunk, so that’s pretty hard. [Laughs.] So if you do swear you have to drink. And then—or any kind of rule, basically. There’s like a few common ones, like…Again, like to mess with people, like…Whatever. There’s like…Yeah. Um, and then for the last King, whoever draws the last King, um—we kind of keep track—has to drink the King’s Cup and the game’s over…And they’re clearly messed [Laughs].”
- End Transcript -
When I asked my friend why she thought people played this particular game, she mentioned that it’s somewhat different from other drinking games, like Beer Pong or Flip Cup, because it doesn’t require any sort of “athletic” skill, it’s a game that could be played with large groups of people, and it’s a game that moves fairly quickly. She also mentioned that it’s a good game to get people talking and socializing. She said that she first learned to play it in college, and that it is particularly fun to play with people who have never played before, because when you first learn, it’s difficult to keep track of the rules, and so the “newbies” end up getting drunk very quickly. In that sense, it also seems to be a kind of initiation ritual in the drinking culture that’s often so prominent in the college social setting.
Her answer was fairly thorough and seemed to provide an insightful reason as to way the game is passed on — in particular that it is about getting drunk quickly (which is usually the reason people play these games) and that it does seem like a very good game to play to get people to start speaking and socializing with one another, which is certainly part of its appeal.
Interestingly enough, the game was made into an app for the Android, for those that don’t have a deck of cards handy. Different versions of the app do offer different sets of rules, which underscores that there are many variations to the game. It’s also interesting to note that the app exists under the name “Waterfall Drinking Game” and that an alternative name is “Ring of Fire,” which both emphasize that it is ultimately a game about getting drunk, which again, is why people usually play such games.
Informant: “I went to my friend’s farm in north Dakota, that’s where she grew up, you know on a family farm probably 50 miles away from the nearest town, and anytime they had an injury, if you stepped on a nail or something which is something you would do on a farm, what they would do is they would stick the foot in a bucket full of alcohol. You wouldn’t go to the doctors, you wouldn’t put antiseptic on it, you used alcohol. Like hard alcohol, like vodka or whiskey or something and that took care of the problem, that’s how they solved their infections, and prevented infections.”
Interviewer: “When did she tell you?”
Informant: “Let’s see, I went to visit her farm in like 1992, so this was only like 20 years ago, so relatively recent, but that’s what they did growing up.”
Interviewer: “What do you think of this particular cure?”
Informant: “Well, growing up in a city I thought it was kind of backwards because I’m used to just getting medicines, but it worked for them. They went to town once a week because of how far they lived from town and they only bought supplies once a week. So, for them to stop farming and drive into town to go get some antibiotics was like a big huge waste of a farmers time. So, instead they would just use a home remedy.”
Interviewer: “Sorry, but where does she live again?”
Informant: “Um its was like 50 miles west of the Minnesota, north Dakota border, so it was into the farmlands of north Dakota.”
The informant is a middle-aged mother with three-boys. She grew up in Minnesota with a large family in the suburbs of Minneapolis. As stated in the interview, the informant learned the lore from her friend when she went to visit her on her farm in North Dakota. The informant remembered this lore because she was surprised that they did not use medicine, but it still worked for her friend’s family.
I thought this was an interesting folk practice because it is very practical. This family would use the closest thing that they had on hand to deal with a particular medical problem, and these practices were still being used until at least 20 years ago. This folk practice really attests to fact that just because a remedy is a folk remedy does not mean that it is wrong.
Click here for video.
“I’ve heard that if you get Asian glow that if you drink pepto bismol before you drink, you won’t turn red, but I don’t get Asian glow so I guess I would never find out first hand. Unfortunately.”
“Asian glow” describes when a person of Asian descent consumes alcohol and experiences flushing of the face, neck, and chest. This is often considered unattractive and embarrassing. This phenomenon stems from a single mutation in the aldehyde dehydrogenase gene, which ultimately prevents the breakdown of alcohol. Because acetaldehyde builds up in the body, creating the symptoms characteristic of Asian glow, the condition is commonly thought of as an allergic reaction. I have definitely heard of drinking Pepto Bismol to quell Asian glow because it contains common digestive enzymes that prevent other conditions, but recommended dosages vary from a capful to an entire bottle. This advice is a modern folk remedy.
Impraim C., Wang G., and A. Yoshida. (1982) “Structural mutation in a major human aldehyde dehydrogenase gene results in loss of enzyme activity.” American Journal of Human Genetics 34(6):837-841.
Here the informant describes USC’s tradition of the Senior fountain run, and what it means conceptually to the USC community:
Every year the seniors go on a fountain run, where they run through every fountain on campus. So every year the seniors of USC go on this fountain run, where they run through every fountain on campus, and they just get wasted, and they carry around, like, squirt guns full of tequila and handles and all this crazy stuff, and they dress in like the most ridiculous costumes, and its just kind of like a way for all the seniors to say goodbye to campus and like celebrate the end of their four years here and kind of leave their mark in terms of USC.
I’ve heard about this tradition through my own personal experience: in having witnessed it and followed seniors around who needed help, and also, just through, like, you know, grandparents and parents talking about how, like, they did their fountain run several years ago, or not several… decades ago! And it’s just pretty amazing It’s still a tradition today.
As can be seen from her impassioned description, the fountain run and USC’s traditions in general, mean a lot to both the informant and a great deal of USC’s community. With the fountain run having been practiced for decades, it is now an integral part of USC lore. As the informant says, it is an opportunity for bonding, and she claims to have been one of the students who follow the seniors help those who need it. Given the familial nature of this event, she too told me she will undoubtedly take part in this tradition her senior year, and expects to be followed by underclassmen then, just as she followed the seniors as a freshman.
“Alcohol and calculus don’t mix, never drink and derive.”
My informant was first told this joke by his high school calculus teacher. It plays off the “Don’t drink and drive” ad campaigns, and adds in a pun for good measure. The result is a highbrid tragedy-nerdy math joke.
In order to “ice” someone, you have to hide a Smirnoff Ice somewhere that they would find it, and then once they do they have to chug it right then and there. Then they’ve been iced. It is said to be used to get back at someone.
The ‘hurricane’, according to my informant who is a member of a USC fraternity on the row, is his fraternity’s slang for somebody who is ‘outrageously drunk’ or ‘blacked out’. My informant described the term as starting back when he was a freshman, three years ago, from an older member of the same fraternity. This older member, whom my informant witnessed firsthand, was notorious for drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and being ‘outrageously incoherent’. Members in the fraternity began to refer to him as “the hurricane”, or “the ‘cane” for short. They would describe the level of his drunkenness by equating it to categories for hurricanes. “If he was only a little bit drunk, we’d say he was a category one or two. But if he was out getting wasted, he’d be more like a category six or seven”.
And, according to my informant, the term stuck. Now, anybody that comes back from a night of drinking can be referred to as “a hurricane” or people will say that he “got hurricaned out”. My informant says that it now is commonplace among the fraternity, even with members that have never even met the ‘real hurricane’ because he was much older. “It’s just what we do”, he says “it’s just common slang in our frat now”.
My informant assures me that other fraternities are picking up on the same lingo, and the members of other USC fraternities, and even sororities, have picked up this term. My informant assures me that the term is unique to his fraternity, and that they were the ones who first used the term to describe this sort of situation and behavior. He says that he sees it as an engrained part of his fraternity’s culture these days, and that he assumes it will carry on for years to come.
I believe that this is a prime example of how folklore is started in a small community and group of people, and is then spread to a wide and wider audience. I am certain that other fraternities will pick up on this terminology and begin to utilize it like it is their own in future years.
The informant (21) is a Junior at USC. She transferred to USC for her sophomore year, and before that, spent her freshman year at Bennington College in Vermont.
The informant is my roommate and she wanted to contribute a drinking game to my folklore collection. This game is known as the Law & Order: SVU Drinking Game:
“The rules are pretty straight forward. You take a drink when you hear the “dun dun” sound, when a weapon is drawn, someone hits on Mariska Hargitay’s character, when there’s a celebrity guest, or when Ice T says “that’s messed up.” Whenever B.D. Wong is on the screen, you drink half your beer and when Stabler worries about his daughter, you take five drinks. Sometimes people make up other rules, but those are my standard ones. I learned this drinking game in Vermont, when my roommates and I got really into the show and watched pretty much every episode. By best friend there had learned the game in high school from another friend of hers. It’s a fun game and I play it because it’s an excuse to watch more L&O SVU, which is the single greatest show of all time and there are a million episodes so you can change things up during different ones. Also, drinking is the single greatest thing ever and can be done a million times even if you know that the outcome will be the same each time.”
Having watched Law & Order SVU, I agree with much of what my informant says. The game is a great excuse to watch more episodes and there’s a lot of freedom with the rules so things won’t get boring from episode to episode. Depending on the specific rules, sometimes the game is designed to get a person to drink a lot in a short amount of time, or even to prolong it. Drinking games that involve TV are also a great bonding experience because everyone’s watching the show at the same time, looking for the same things, and no doubt, as episodes go on, the side-conversations get more and more hilarious.
When visiting my brother for New Year’s Eve while he was an undergrad at UCSB he showed me this drinking game. He explains the rules of the special New Year’s version:
“7-11-Doubles is played with a big chalice cup. For this one [New Year's] we used the Pimp Chalice but you can use measuring cups, big slurpee or anything that size.
You get a case of champagne or depending on the [number of] people a few.
You fill the cup with what you think someone can chug in like 10 seconds.
Everyone rolls the dice until someone rolls a 7, 11 or the same number on each die. Then the person who rolled picks someone to drink.
That person has to chug the entire thing before a 7,11 or double is rolled again by the same person.
The person rolling the dice can’t go until the person drinking touches the chalice. You can fuck around and touch it with your cup or make someone else touch it. But soon as it’s touched you chug & the other person rolls.
If you don’t finish drinking before a good roll, you gotta do it again until you beat the roll.”
The game is played gathered around the chalice in a haphazard circle. Everyone playing has another cup with beer or champagne which they drink from while they’re waiting for their turn – but you never know when you’ll be chosen to drink next. The person who is chosen to drink can be saved by anyone in the circle. The person saving the drinker (‘saver’) just has to snatch the chalice before the appointed drinker touches it and chug. If the ‘saver’ beats the roller they get the dice next. If they don’t they have to take on the chosen drinker’s responsibility until they manage to chug before a 7,11 or double is rolled.
The New Year’s version was characterized by a high enthusiasm for saving the appointed drinker, tricking the roller, and distracting whoever was rolling by forcibly kissing them.
The game was interrupted at midnight when the person who happened to be the roller had to pick someone to make out with for the duration of the roll. The person chosen to kiss had to continually pour champagne into the chalice while everyone else attempted to get a turn at chugging before an 11 or snake eyes were rolled.