USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘poop’
Folk speech
Proverbs

Don’t Pout, There’s a Bird Coming!

Folk Piece

“Don’t pout or a bird will land on that lip!”

 

Background

“It’s kind of ridiculous. Like, of course a bird isn’t going to land on my lip. But, like, kids are also crazy and would probably believe everything. When I started hearing this phrase so much it bothered me, but now as I’m older, I can see why my grandma might’ve said it. She is such a sweet old lady. Like all the time, all the time, she would tell me all of these little sayings and stuff. But yeah, no, I’m pretty sure half of them were to just behave better and keep still.”

Context

Originally this was taught to me by my grandmother to stop me from pouting as a kid. Now I find myself teaching this to the kids I babysit.”

Analysis

This piece was definitely one of the more odd ones that I came across. Why is a bird landing on the lip? Is that a bad thing? What kind of bird could even land on a lip? I mean, in a sense, I get it. You don’t want some bird smacking you in the face. It just wasn’t as clear to me as many of the other proverbs and warnings and sayings that I had heard over the years.

So, I decided to do some research. It turns out, the more popular version of this phrase is “Don’t stick your lip out or a bird might poop on it!” This was much more clear to me; bird poop is something that’s much more familiar than a bird actually landing on me. It also could go hand in hand with a kid acting like they are ‘full of shit’ when they are pouting.

The participant’s grandmother was described to me as a very sweet, kind, old lady. The participant also comes from a somewhat religious family. This all said, it could be that the grandmother thought the original saying was too crude for her grandchildren, so she changed it a little bit. Clearly, though, if the informant can remember it after all of these years, it must have been pretty effective.

The variation of this piece of folklore is quite different, but it doesn’t change the true meaning of the proverbial phrase, much like most variations of proverbs. Still, you can tie back its origins to the more popular version – or perhaps the more popular version arose from this one. In any case, like many proverbs were designed to do, it will make kids behave.

Folk Beliefs

Bird poop = good luck

Being pooped on by a bird gives you good luck.

My informant was first told this by his parents after a passing seagull had relieved itself on his person. At the time it had cheered him up as he claims he was very distraught at the time. Looking back however, he is pretty sure his mom was just trying to make him feel better rather than conveying something that she actually believes.

Childhood
Humor
Narrative

The Pooping your Pants story

My informant told me a story about his younger brother:

“My brother, sister and I all went to an inner city Roman Catholic grammar school.  It was located next to a church, and every day during recess, at exactly noon, the bells would ring the Angelus and all children were supposed to stop in their tracks and quietly say a prayer until the bells stopped. The nuns patrolled the playground and no one moved. We kids actually liked to freeze in odd positions like statues. My little brother was a new first grader and afraid of doing anything wrong. During the first week of school he played during recess, but when it came time to freeze for the Angelus he couldn’t make it through because he had to go the bathroom. But he was young and nervous and afraid to anger the nuns by walking across the playground to the school’s bathroom. So he just pooped in his pants. I was assigned to clean him up and couldn’t understand how my brother let this happen.”

My informant told me that he often tells this story to his sons, daughters, nephews, and nieces at family gatherings. It is a funny story that always makes everyone laugh.

I found this piece of folklore interesting because my grandmother told a similar story involving peeing herself in class because she was afraid to ask to go to the bathroom. It seems like a common theme amongst children when they have to face obeying the rules even if it means soiling themselves. There is also always something funny about pooping your pants, no matter how old you are I find that people always find stories that involve soiling yourself funny.

general
Humor

Bar Stool

 Billy Echols-Richter

Houston, Texas

April 9, 2012

Folklore Type: Joke

Informant Bio: Billy is my uncle on my mother’s side. He is a Methodist Pastor, and a hilarious and friendly person and/or kid. He recently did a sermon series using Dr. Seuss. I have recently discovered he could be considered the family story teller because he learned all of my grandfather’s stories, jokes, and songs.

Context:  During this past summer of 2011 my grandfather on my Mom’s side passed away. Then recently my grandfather on my Father’s side passed away, and my Uncle Billy stayed with us and did the funeral service. He, my parents, and I were all talking. Then all of a sudden he started telling jokes his father used to tell.

Item: Do you know what a bar stool is? That’s what Davey Crockett stepped in.

 

Informant Analysis: Let me see which one. I hear a certain word and it always kinda reminds of the punch line of some of those jokes. And he was always telling us those kinds of jokes. Well I think part of the deal was, 1 dad came from a big family. He was not the oldest and he was not the youngest and so between the eight of them they told lots of stories. They didn’t have a TV or anything and his dad was a good story teller. And people stopping through getting gasoline and that’s where you would hearthe latest story or gossip. Of course he was also in the military and that’s notorious for hearing all sorts of things. The last thing is work in the oil fields and he didn’t realy work in the fields well I guess at first he did. And workin in the fields you get lots of jokes. And there were still lots of racism. Lot of the jokes centered around African Americans, Hispanic, and even Cajun. What made me think about it was dad work in the oil fields was corpus and they were with a lot of Hispanic and Mexican Americans. It would be a racist riddle.

There’s two or three things. It certainly helps me have a joyful smile and just helps my dad stay with me. I had a sense that papa was with me with just the sense of things. I had a friend where my dad used to write me handwritten letters and when I read them I can still hear his voice. For these little rhymes or jokes I can hear my dad. I also think of family and how it came from my dad and his family and his dad. As silly as they are I’m a part of something much, much bigger than myself. I’m not the first to think it’s funny. It’s funny but at the same time there’s some depth to it. You know a lot of people have items that they pass on to people and special objects and what not, but the silly things we are talking about now they don’t ever get lost or deteriorate. You know now I try to pass them on to my kids, and some things they find funny and some they don’t. I think Julie finds some funnier now than when say she was Lawson’s age.

 

Analysis: This joke had more of a country tinge to it. It is a play on words with stool. The joke refers to a stool being poop and also a stool one sits on. The common inconvenience in steeping in poop combined with the reference to a bar sort of results in a subtle joke about Davey Crockett possibly being a bit of an alcoholic, although, it was probably told more for its vulgar effects than its subtleties.

Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012

 

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