“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.
“She was only the Dean of Men’s Daughter,
With an IQ of twenty-three,
But the things that we college boys taught her
Could’ve earned her some sort of degree.”
Where’d you get that song?
University of Maryland!
So you learned that in college.
Who’d you learn it from?
I don’t know, some college boys. Some graduate student. In engineering.
This is a folksong that most kids at the University of Maryland presumably learn, from other, older students. It suggests school pride in being raunchy and sexually active, and there’s also a clear dynamic of gender roles embedded in the joke. The girl is either naive or provocative, but it’s the boys that show her the ropes and supposedly “corrupt” her. She is also obviously dumb, if she has such a low IQ. The fact that she’s the Dean’s daughter makes her a catch, because she’s highly unattainable and in a sense, off-limits, as well as perhaps easily corruptible because of her ‘stupidity’. Or maybe she’s dumb but attractive, so the boys don’t care. The fact that she’s the dean’s daughter makes her low intelligence funny. So this suggests the boys at U of Maryland can get away with things, and can persuade or manipulate even the most unattainable girls. They can have their fun and still stay out of trouble with the administration.
Sara is a very gossipy, religious, fun girl. Sophomore at USC, she’s in the Helene’s and a sorority. She’s from Anaheim, California. And she has an incredibly interesting memory and past.
No not bands like music bands. Bands like the one you wear around your wrist. When I introduced folklore to Sara, and I talked about weird games or silly gestures this came to mind:
Took place in middle school: The new fad in the early 2000’s were these very cute plastic multi-colored bands. Very easy to put on, cheap, and stylish (for some reason). After the trend settled in, boys started coming up with ways to use this new fad to their advantage. There were several colored bands. They thought – what if each of them meant something. Then they came up with the game. When a boy comes up to a girl if he manages to break or “pop” the band, the girl would have to act out what ever action was attached to the color of the band. Green meant hug, pink meant a kiss, and eventually the list goes to: black means sex.
Analysis: Whether or not middle school-aged students were doing who knows what with those bands, I definitely remember seeing girls at my school wearing them. That goes to show the multiplicity across state borders. Sara and I didn’t go to the same school. IN fact, she was in California and I was in Pennsylvania. Games like this were very popular in middle school. Middle school is an age of experimentation. Especially with our sexuality. Middle school, while it may be a very painful time for some of us, is where we start growing into a more permanent person. Phases and hats tend to lessen in high school where cliques and identities are formed.
At Williams College in Massachusetts the frat system was dissolved in the 1960s but all the old frathouses still exist and have been converted into dorms. They are identifiable as frat houses because they still feature the fraternities old symbols on the wall. One of the most interesting hazing traditions that this frat took part in was at the end of the initiation process the current members of the frat would take all the prospective members into this room. They would then bring in a goat and tell the prospectives they had one final task to complete before becoming a member. Any man who sought entry into the house would have to have sexual intercourse with the goat that night. The brothers would then leave and come back in the morning. When they returned they would ask the prospective members who had “fucked the goat.” Some would step forward. Instead of lauding them for their dedication to the fraternity these men would be chastised in front of the group for their blind following of such a vile order. They would be asked to leave and not admitted into the fraternity. Those who had refused to have intercourse with the goat would be lauded for their strong character and offered a spot in the frat.
I went to visit the informant at her college and we participated in a 24 hour theater festival. We were rehearsing in the goat room and I noted that I recognized the symbol on the wall as a frat symbol. My friend and the other girl with us then proceeded to tell me the full story.
I think this story is very interesting because it plays with the expectations of fraternity culture. You expect the brothers to come back and kick out those who refused to follow orders but in fact the opposite is true. However the act still portrays fraternities in a negative light. The prospective members underwent a traumatic experience and in the end they were not accepted. This is perhaps even more traumatizing than following orders that lead to acceptance. Either way the story prizes individual thinking over a group mentality. It is also interesting to note that this story exists in a school where fraternities do not. The story is probably making a commentary on the evils of the fraternity system and how the school is better off without them.
I asked my informant for a proverb or colloquial axiom and he thus provided:
Alright, there are things in the Gym called “bro code,” and some of the bro code and bro sign stuff are, basically, “curls for the girls,” um, [laughter] “pecs for sex,” um, just meat-head stuff like that and um, they’re just insiders for the Ducheiest of Douchers, [laughter].
Although my informant defined such aspects of the “bro code” as, “for the Duchiest of Douchers,” such sayings seem to be largely prevalent in both the gym and other highly masculine gathering. Their prevalence suggests that they do not represent actual Misogynous values as often as they simply indicate masculine heterosexual bonding in male dominated environments.
In Germany it is a tradition that when you toast you have to look the other person in the eye, otherwise you will have seven years of bad sex. And I learned that probably when I was around fourteen or fifteen—maybe a little earlier—and uh…it’s a German tradition. I realized that no one does it here in the states.
Sophia and her family hail from Karlsruhe, Germany. They have always been very open about the topic of sex—a topic that is still taboo here in the states. This folk superstition, according to Sophia, Is widely known in Germany—especially among children. The fact that children are aware of sexual folklore says a lot about German culture and how it has progressed since the times of the brothers Grimm when all of the sexual content was edited out of their work when intended for younger audiences.
In the United States parents work very hard to “preserve the innocence” of their children. This includes: “protecting” them from exposure to drug use, violence, profanity, and, most importantly, sex. Although sex is a natural part of life that everyone discovers at one point or another growing up, talking about sex with youngsters is not socially acceptable. Yet, how can parents continue to deny the existence of sex in a culture inundated with sexual images?
Children often learn about sex on their own long before their parents are willing to acknowledge it—but not Sophia’s and other European parents. In Germany, and most of western Europe, sex does not carry the social stigma that it does here in the US. From a young age Sophia engaged in conversations about sex with her parents—something that rarely occurs in the US. Why do you think schools here require sexual education classes? It’s because teachers have to compensate for the lack of conversation at home.
Furthermore, this folk superstition moves beyond the idea of sex and brings in a conversation about the quality of sex. Not only did Sophia know about sex at a young age, she also learned that sex alone is not enough. “Good” sex is always preferable to “bad” sex. Implicit in this folk superstition is the notion that people should strive for amazing sex, which in turn encourages them to practice sex regularly to achieve a certain mastery that would beget quality sex.
Q:Why does Prince Charles have a coloured knob?
A: He kept sticking it in Di.
My informant, who grew up in the 80s, was lucky enough to be around when Prince Charles and Princess Di were still alive and well. Thus, when this joke began to circulate, one could guess that even though it’s fairly tasteless, it was still somewhat acceptable. Now it has become even more tasteless and bordering on insulting since the princess’s death. That doesn’t stop anyone from laughing at it though. These Princesss Di jokes have definitely died down in the past few years, with much of the new generation not even sure who Princess Di was. Thus, this joke is generally only used when in a specific age range.
Mechanicaly speaking, the metaphor is a simple play on words with Di replacing dye.
Informant: “A friend told me this joke, it’s kind of dirty. A little bit. There’s these four nuns. They’re going to confession, because they are Catholic nuns and they confess things. So they go to confession, and the first nun goes into confessional with the priest. And she says, ‘forgive me father, for I have sinned. And he said, ‘what have you done, my child?’ And she said, ‘I looked at a man’s penis.’
‘Oh my goodness’ he says. ‘That’s terrible! How could you?’
‘I know I know it’s terrible.’ She says.
‘Ok, say ten hail mary’s,’ he says. ‘And wash your eyes in the holy water fountain outside and you will be forgiven.’
‘Thank you father, thank you.’
So the second nun goes in ‘forgive me father, for I have sinned.’
‘Tell me child, what is your sin?’
‘Father, I touched a man’s penis.’
‘Oh my goodness’ he says. ‘How could you?’ ‘Ok, that was terrible, but say ten hail mary’s, and wash your hands in the holy water outside, and you will be forgiven.’
‘Thank you father, thank you.’
‘Amen my child.’
So after the second nun walks out, the priest hears some ruckus coming from outside. Like screaming and yelling and hitting. So he goes outside, and sees nun three and four, wrestling on the ground, hitting each other and screaming. So breaks them up and he’s like, ‘what are you guys doing? Why are you guys fighting?’
And nun four says, ‘father, we heard what you said in the confessional to the first two nuns, and I don’t care what you tell me, I am not washing my mouth in the holy water after she washes her butt in it.'”
My informant is a USC student. She is a neuroscience major who learned this joke from a friend who attends a different college, but is also from the San Fernando Valley.
This joke pokes fun at nuns who the church claims to be such sacred people. At the end of the day, nuns are just women too, and anything involving nuns and blow jobs and anal sex doesn’t need much more of a punch-line than that.
“So, this man and this woman get married and they’re totally in love with each other. And, when they first move in together after their married, the man tells the woman “Ok, I’m going to be completely honest with you. I’m willing to share my entire life with you and everything with you, as long as you promise me one thing.” And the woman says “What?” He’s like “Ok, I have this box. And I’m going to keep it under our bed. And I need you to promise me that you’re never going to look inside of that box.” And the woman says “yeah sure, sounds easy enough. That’s fine.” So, many, many years go by. And, the husband is out a lot. The woman is basically at home, by herself all the time, which is really sad and depressing. Anyways, so like, the woman finally one day, is cleaning up, and under the bed she notices that box. This is like ten years later. And she’s like “Oh wow, I totally forgot about this.” And being alone, she gets curious, and finally decides to open the box. And inside, she sees, three empty beer bottles, and a wad of cash. She counts it out, and it’s about 2000 dollars. And she’s like “holy shit, this is two thousand dollars. Is he planning on leaving me, or like, what does he have all this money for, he’s never told me about it before? What’s going on.” So she’s like freaking out. Um… and she’s like thinking why does he want this to be a secret from her. So when he finally gets home late that night, she kind of just can’t keep it in anymore, and she finally confesses. “Hey, uh, I’m so sorry. I finally looked inside that box. I know you told me never to do that, but I did, and I just really need to know. What’s the deal with like those three beer bottles?” And so, he said to her, “Ok… I guess I have some fessing up to do. Um…I, every time I was unfaithful to you, I- I kept a beer bottle inside that box. “ Um…and she just started crying, and cuz, there were three beer bottles in there. And so she’s like oh my god, he cheated on me! But at the same time, you know what, she loved him, forgave him, and-and, they, they went to bed that night, like as a couple, they forgave each other. Him for uh, for her looking in the box, and her to him for like cheating on her. Anyway, so like, uh…in the middle of the night, she kind of just like, wakes up and realizes, wait, so what was all the money for? So she kind of like wakes him up. “Hey honey, wha-what was the money for?” And he’s like “shit,” because uh, he thought he got out of it. So he told her, “ok honey, here’s the deal. Every time I put a bottle in the box, and the bottle- uh, the box got full, I went to the recycling place, and got it redeemed for cash. Haha, and that’s that.”
The informant says she remembers hearing this joke freshman year of high school. She also remembers that it was popular in her high school and that it was one of her favorite jokes to tell to her peers to see their reactions. She thinks it’s funny in how the story goes in a direction that is not expected. The audience is left wondering what the wad of cash means after the wife asks about the bottles, and when the punch line is delivered, it comes with a sense of bewilderment and unexpectedness. She says that it is also a quite lengthy joke, which serves the purpose distracting the audience from the twist and the punchline of the joke.
It makes sense that this joke is circled around in this age group and older, as this type of joke with adultery and money tends to cause more humor in a teenage and adult group. It is a joke that would be told in a normal school or casual setting amongst a group of friends. The punch line causes chuckles and senses of bewilderment and amusement amongst the audience, as it isn’t expected. It also has a theme of couples and sex, which is a big topic in teenage and young adult society. This is an example of age group folklore, where the joke is targeted towards a specific range of ages. Children wouldn’t be expected to understand it. Therefore, to understand the joke, one would have to understand the concept of sex and cheating, which is usually something people learn towards middle, high school and college.
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 tells this joke his father used to tell.
Item: These two women see each other in church and they can’t figure out where their third friend Mable is. (in Older Southern Church Woman accent) “Where is Mable?” And one says, “Oh honey, she is in bed with Artheritis.” The other comments, “Oh, those Ritis boys are bad, and that Arthur he’s the worst one.”
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: I think my Uncle Billy definitely knows where the jokes come from and what they mean to him. This joke in particular he did not touch upon as much. There is a certain understanding needed about older southern church going women especially the kind that my grandfather probably knew. Older church going women are good Christians that are well mannered and generally tell everyone else how they should act, which means people should act like them. This is the stereotype. However, some of these women definitely have or had a wild side once upon a time. This joke makes fun of that fact. It also plays with the ideas of young and old, and what is associated with them. Old people are associated with Arthritis and being bed ridden while younger people are associated with sexuality. This joke brings up that older people can still be sexually active as well as mixes other usually oppositional themes.
Los Angeles, California
University of Southern California
ANTH 333m Spring 2012