Author Archives: Bryce Condon

Senior Schlaugen

This informant is a member of a USC fraternity and I asked him to share some of their traditions or stories he might have.  Among others, here is a year-end senior tradition he shared with me. It’s called Senior Schlaugen and here is our dialogue.

Me: Tell about this Senior Schlaugen, and what does the name mean?

Informant: Haha, I have no idea where the name came from but since the game is all about drinking and –schlaugen sounds German, maybe that’s why?  Anyways it’s a tradition the seniors do every year, where we try to drink as much as possible for the last month of school.  So for this year it goes from April 15th to Graduation on May 15th.  Basically we form teams of three and you get points every night someone on your team goes out, also there are weekly team challenges, like finish a 30 rack in a library.  Its really fucking with me right now, I have been out six nights in a row, I gotta fuckin win.

Me: Is there a prize?

Informant: Uh, ya winning team gets little gimmick trophies, but its more about the pride.

Me: So this competition means a lot to you?

Informant: Well ya, nothing I do in school now is gonna change what I do post grad as long as I don’t fail any classes.  Couldn’t really give less of a shit about my classes right now.

Me: Well, you’re about a week in do you think you’ll burn out before graduation?  Any surprises after just a week?

Informant: Haha, no way ill burn out I fuckin live for this.  But ya even though this game is all about getting fucked up and partying, it really does serve a purpose that I am just now realizing.

Me: What’s that?

Informant: Well its just brought me closer to all the guys that I may or may not ever see again, and really forced us to make the best out of the last month.  You get extra points if your whole team drinks together in one night so we are all always in the same place.

For starters, this tradition at the informant’s fraternity is a blaring example of the drinking culture at USC, and the Greek community more specifically.  However, although it seemed completely centered around partying on the surface, what my informant said at the end really shed light on why the tradition has stayed around for years.  The game brought all the seniors closer, students who may never see each other again and definitely will never all in the same room again.  Some people say fraternities are all about partying, but by looking further into their traditions, you can see the important role brotherhood plays as well.

Running of the Bitches

This informant is a member of a USC fraternity and I asked him to share some of their traditions or stories he might have.  One I found interesting was about an annual tradition that occurs when the Sororities give out their bids to the new members.

Every year in the Fall sororities have this event where they give bids to the new freshman and they all run from campus to their new houses.  I honestly have no idea why they do it that way but its fuckin awesome for us because we just get to sit back and scope all the new hot girls.  Every semester we all sit in front of the house really drunk and get super rowdy.  The whole time we all judge who got the best pledge class and try to pick out the hottest chicks.

I might add that my informant was drinking a beer while I listened to his story, which is further a testament to the drinking culture amongst fraternities.  I thought this was an interesting story because it shed light on some interesting dynamics between fraternities and sororities.  Frat kids seem to be blatantly disrespecting women, most of them young freshman, which an outsider might find offensive.  However, the sorority girls obviously want to show off their new pledge class to the Greek community and have continued to do so for years.  This shows how the college culture of acceptable cross-gender relations is different from the outside world.

Rally Cap

This informant is my roommate, who grew up in Laguna Hills.  He played baseball up until high school, when he quit to play lacrosse.

Baseball has a ton of superstitions and lots of players do weird shit, like never wash their socks if they are on a winning streak or something, but the “Rally Cap” is known by all players.  It doesn’t matter if you are in Little League or the Majors but if your team is losing and you need a good inning everyone wears their hats upside-down, which is suppose to make your team play better or hit homeruns or something.

I know from my few years in Little League that the rally cap is a very prominent folk belief in baseball regardless of how effective it really is.  While neither my informant nor myself know how it originated, I can guess that it stuck into the baseball culture because of the “hat’s” importance to the sport.  Many people refer to hats as “baseball caps,” regardless of the embroidering on them and hats really aren’t worn in any other sport, making them unique to baseball.  From this perspective it sort of makes sense that a folk belief like this stuck for good.  Altering an item of clothing that embodies baseball seems natural, especially when a hats appearance is so easy to change by flipping it.

Lacrosse Flow

This informant is my roommate who plays on USC’s lacrosse team.  I asked him if there was any folk superstitions or traditions widely accepted amongst the sport or team and this is what he told me.

There’s totally two huge beliefs in lax [the “x” looks like a cross, making it la-“cross,” but it is still pronounced like “lax” in “relax”].  Players always try to have the longest “flow” and the most eye-black on their face.  Flow refers to the length of someone’s hair and it gained its popularity when a player made a Youtube video about his “flow” making him a better player.  I’m not really sure where the eye-black trend started, but lax was first played by the Native Americans against rival tribes, so maybe players think the eye black makes them look more like warriors.  Obviously these are just superstitions but they everyone acknowledges their importance so it has become a part of the game.

Obviously these are two folk superstitions that have become popular belief in the sport of lacrosse, even though players know they aren’t true.  I’m not entirely true what these beliefs say about the sport itself or the players who participate but I think my informant touched on an important topic regarding the sport’s origin.  He said lacrosse was played as a game amongst rival tribes, almost like battle.  In some cultures, such as the Norse, hair length was tied to manliness, so maybe the eye-black and flow became popular because it symbolizes masculinity.

Christmas Stockings

Story

This informant is a friend of mine from back home who happened to be in town for a visit a few weeks.  I started by asking him if he had any family traditions that may have been in the family for a while.  After a bit of thinking he mentioned his Christmas stockings that his grandma had made for him and his brother, which I then realized I had seen before.  He said dating back far in the past (he didn’t know the origin) the grandmothers on his mother’s side of the family have always sewed the Christmas stockings.  Each stocking is sewed with items chosen by each respective grandmother for specific reason.  Some items represent past events and some hopeful mementos for the future.  He happened to be born in Germany when his parents lived there for a short three years early in their marriage, so there is a Beer stein on his stocking.  There is also a tennis racket, basketball, and soccer ball signifying his (hopefully) future success in sports.  Each stocking is about 18-20 inches tall and all red with a white top.  He said the stocking has become somewhat of a family superstition and they believe it has influence on the child’s future when it’s sewed.

 

Analysis: After listening to my informant’s story it was clear to me the significance of Christmas and religion in their family’s life and history.  It wasn’t clear whether or not the stockings were initially intended to be “fortune telling” (for lack of a better word) because my informant didn’t know how the tradition started, but it was interesting to me that such an important superstition ended up in the hands of a matriarch in such a patriarchal society.