“A lot of Sorority girls at CSUCI have fought over who gets to live in a Sorority apartment building like most sorority girls at other schools would fight over living in the Sorority house. To call something a Sorority apartment came from a stupid law in Camarillo from the olden days that prohibits more than ten unrelated women to live in the same house, so sororities have gone around the issue by leasing specific buildings in apartment complexes around the school. That’s how the term came to be!”
SM is from Camarillo, California and has grown up in the area since he was born. He says he knows this from his sister who went to CSUCI and was in a sorority that had to do this. He remembers specifically being confused about why her friends would always call it the Sorority apartments cause on TV, people would always talk about sorority houses, but never apartments.
SM is an old high school friend of mine. I invited him to a Discord server and I watched him play The Witcher. He was open to talk about folklore of the area we grew up in during cutscenes he said he had already watched when he had played the entirety of the game before.
Folklore acting as a sort of counteraction against a law is nothing new, but the fact that it has stuck around as long as it has is impressive. The saying of this word must come out of a unique sense of being and is probably not just specific to CSUCI sorority girls, but CSUCI students as a whole. It must be somewhat nice for this folk group to know they get to say something that would seem a bit odd to the average person, but completely relatable and even political to those who knew the issue.
My friend and classmate Pauline told me the following joke, which she learned from her dad, who is a lawyer:
“It was so cold outside today that earlier, I saw a lawyer with his hands in his own pockets.”
This joke relies upon the stereotype that lawyers are greedy and corrupt, and the metonymic use of the phrase “having one’s hands in someone’s pockets” to refer to squeezing money out of someone, like a legal client. The humor of the joke may be based in a genuine belief in this stereotype for people resentful of lawyers, but in this case its humor comes from a self-aware and ironic acknowledgement of the stereotype by a lawyer who presumably does not believe in it.
Pauline says that her dad has a number of lawyer jokes in his repertoire, which he tells “any time we’re with, like, any other lawyers, or if someone’s giving him a hard time about being a lawyer.” Such jokes are pieces of occupational folklore, which may serve to bond lawyers over their common identity, or may function as self-deprecating humor performed for the entertainment of non-lawyers. Lawyer jokes are a common staple of mainstream American humor, indicating a distrust of or misanthropic feeling toward lawyers from the general public outside of the profession. Their embrace by lawyers themselves is somewhat surprising, but is representative of the ways folklore may shift meaning depending on context.
Q: What don’t you want, but when you have it, you don’t want to lose it?
A: A lawsuit.
My informant learned this riddle on a tour bus in Europe while she was on vacation. Since she loves riddles and puzzles, she looks forward to hearing new ones to think about and solve. Each time she learns a new riddle, she tells them to her friends to see if they can figure it out. Her friends know that they can go to her if they want to hear a riddle. Lauren also tells this riddle, and other riddles that she has collectively learned, when she or other people are bored. She believes that saying riddles is a good source of entertainment. It takes the way the silence or boredom that is present within a group of people.
Lauren really likes this riddle because it’s good. It makes people think a little without needing to think too hard. It doesn’t take a long time to tell, so it’s an easy way to amuse people. Lauren especially likes this joke because she couldn’t figure it out for a long time. Because Lauren has heard so many riddles, she can usually figure them out pretty quickly. This one caught Lauren off guard, so she liked pondering over the riddle.
This riddle is actually a very clever one. When my informant told it to me, I could not get the answer. After she told me the answer, the entire riddle made sense to me. I like these riddles because it gives me a chance to think. Riddles are so easy once you know them, but they’re so hard. Sometimes I end up thinking too hard when the answer is right there in front of me. With riddles, people can discover their thinking patterns. I think that riddles are a great way to educate children because they force children to think outside the box.
“Don’t Lose It.” Braingle. 6 April 2007 <http://www.braingle.com/brainteasers/teaser.php?op=2;id=1927;comm=0>.
Q:You do not want to have it,
But when you do have it,
You do not want to lose it?
What is it?
A: A Lawsuit.