Tag Archives: shame

“Shame Shame Shame” Hand-clap Game

Main Piece:

“Shame Shame Shame,

I don’t want to go to Mexico no more more more,

There’s a big fat policeman at the door door door,

He grabbed me by the collar,

Made me pay a dollar,

I don’t want to go to Mexico no more more more,

Shame!”

Background:

This piece was recited to me by my informant in reference to their childhood and elementary school memories. The informant is now a junior in high-school but for their K-8 education, she attended a Spanish immersion public school with a large Mexican population. Kansas City, where the informant lives, has a substantial Spanish-speaking population.

Context:

This piece was shared with me several times throughout my life but was recently brought up by her when asking about memories from her childhood. The exact conversation was conducted via cellphone

Thoughts:

This piece is very interesting to me, mostly because it seems to be another version of a pretty recognizable childhood game. My informant told me that she learned this hand-clap game from friends while attending a Spanish immersion school. However, as she grew up, she learned that this is just a variant of a more traditionally accepted version of the game. Mostly, the policeman in this version is usually replaced with a bully. In my opinion, this is a reflection of the fear of authority and programs like ICE, for Spanish-speaking immigrants. The school my informant attended had a substantial population of Spanish-speaking students who were first generation United States citizens, if that. As such, when assimilating into United States culture, they adopted childhood games like hand-clap. However, they changed it to replace the classic bully figure with that of police, maybe because they would realistically have grown up being told that they were to be wary of police officers, as it could mean deportation or harsh punishments on account of their status as first generation immigrants. It also seems to place Mexico as an bad place, which further reflects the goal of moving forward and becoming part of the culture there. In this respect, the game is almost pushing one to abandon their original culture in order to adapt, as many of these students were the children of Mexican immigrants who were attempting to make ends meet in a new culture. 

The Brown Helmet

Text:

Informant (R): Yeah the KA’s had a tradition, we called the Brown Helmet, um, we had a travelling trophy that was awarded to the last person that got dumped by a date or a girlfriend. Uh and it was a brown army helmet. The reason it was brown or was called the Brown Helmet, or why it was appropriate was because you had been shat on by your girlfriend or your date who dumped you. So you know if you were unlucky enough to have the brown helmet, you were just waiting for someone to get dumped so you could give it back to them. Yeah, so we had that.

Collector (J): Was that something you learned during pledging (initiation)?

R: No, it was even before, because we lived in the house and we hadn’t gone through hell week or any of those things yet and you know I got, shit, I probably got the Brown Helmet before I was an active actually.

Context: The informant was recalling his experience as a fraternity brother in college. He is remembering his time there and the traditions celebrated as his child goes through the pledging process.

Analysis: The Brown Helmet is a way of expressing the recent loss of a relationship in a humorous way, encouraging brothers to be open about their experiences. The fact that every individual has the potential to wear the helmet also allows for a sense of solidarity for those who currently have the helmet, as they can seek advice from previous recipients. At the same time, it shows other brothers to be more sympathetic to the wearers of the hat. However, this could also make the wearers more likely to be teased for being “dumped.” Regardless, the sentiment behind the color brown certainly shows the negative attitude and stigma around being broken up with. In a way, the brown army helmet shows that regardless of their relationship status, the brothers are able to fight through it and reclaim their identity as a bachelor.

High School ‘Senior Punishment’ Legend

Informant (“A”) is a 19 year old, female from Rancho Santa Fe, California, and attends The University of Southern California. She is a Human Biology major.  She is of European descent and her family includes her mother, father, and older brother who attends college in Texas.  Informant has studied ballet for 17 years, including work in a professional company.

 

A: “My high school used to be a boarding school, the school is over 100 years old, so we had a lot of traditions.  First of all, the seniors have a rec room that they repaint each summer in their classes color.  It takes a ton of hard work and time and is kind of a sacred space for the seniors, and they take their positions of ‘guardians of the lawn and rec room’ very seriously.  There’s this legend about this guy named W who was this tiny, tiny 7th grader.   Anyway I guess one day he got a bunch of squirt guns and soaked some seniors who were sitting on the lawn.   The seniors of course got really mad and they chased after him and duct taped him to a tree.  I guess he like was there for hours too.  Just about every 7th grader knows this legend, and definitely knows to respect the seniors and their rec room and lawn.”

 

Analysis: The legend appears to reinforce the hierarchy maintained by the older students over the younger ones, showing that going against an established hierarchy leads to embarrassment. Her emphasis on the fact he was left for several hours plays into the fact that the punishment was quite severe for her perspective, and serves to show that forgetting one’s place in this hierarchy is an especially socially unacceptable offense.