Author Archives: Claire Preising

Family folk recipe

This recipe also came from my informant’s Southern mother, who learned how to make traditional Southern ice tea from two different people: first, her mother, who had lived in Savannah, GA her entire life; and second, from their African-American housekeeper Maddie Lee. My informant doesn’t remember when she learned how to make the ice tea, but knows that ever since she was little she’d been drinking it with her family.

“Place about a cup of sugar in a pitcher. Heat water to boiling on the stove, then pour over sugar and add tea bags–preferably Luzianne–to steep. After cooling, serve over ice, but only during spring and summer. When school starts, everyone has to drink milk. Nowadays they do a good job of making traditional ice tea at places like Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s, but there’s nothing like the real homemade stuff.”

The simplicity of this recipe is probably a direct reason as to why it is so blatantly popular in the South. Basically every restaurant and household in the Southern states has a constant supply of sweet tea in the fridge. My informant grew up on ice tea (note: ice tea, not iced tea) and still makes it to this day. In addition, she holds one type of tea (Luzianne) above any other; this is the kind of tea she grew up on, and she still has boxes airmailed from Savannah to her home in Northern California. Ice tea is not just a drink in the South, it’s a meal staple for the spring and summer (the warmer months).

Humor–blonde joke

My informant heard this from his best friend’s younger brother Stephen, a boy that he says is “full of these crazy jokes–he never stops telling them.” This particular joke came up when my informant was a freshman in high school.

“A blonde, a brunette, and a redhead are trapped on a tropical island. When they find a genie’s lamp, the genie says, “Bring me back 10 of the same fruit and do what I say and you shall live.” The redhead is the first to come back, and she has 10 bananas. The genie says, “Shove these 10 bananas up your butt and you shall be free.” The redhead manages to shove 4 down, but dies and goes to heaven. The brunette comes back with 10 grapes, and the genie tells her to do the same thing. She gets to the 10th grape, but laughs, chokes, and goes to heaven. In heaven, the redhead asks the brunette, “Why did you laugh?” The brunette replies, “I saw the blonde coming back with 10 pineapples.'”

This particular joke is just one in a long series of brunette-redhead-blonde jokes. While I did find it entertaining, it definitely strikes me as the kind of thing freshmen boys would tell each other (as was the case with my informant). It combines blason populaire with bathroom humor, which defines the type of borderline-offensive humor that high school students often find entertaining. It is not an innocent joke, but does not really qualify as a “dirty” joke though my informant did call it that before he told it. I’ve heard this particular joke before in a less-offensive format, where the characters must eat the fruit instead.

Humor–blonde joke

My informant told me this joke one night when we were both freshmen in high school. He later told me that he heard it from a soccer teammate, who was excessively proud of the quality of this joke. My informant says he still finds the joke funny four years later. In his words:

“A blonde, a brunette, and a redhead are stuck on an island 4 miles from shore. The brunette swims all the way across. The redhead swims one mile, gets tired, and swims back. The blonde swims 3 miles, gets tired and swims back.”

Again, this joke uses the brunette-redhead-blonde stereotypes to its advantage. The Rule of Three is also present, a typical Western aspect of folklore. If anything, this makes the joke funnier, because the three examples provide both buildup and punchline to the joke. As we discussed in class, this joke can also be categorized as a blason populaire as it stereotypes all three hair colors (the brunette is the most successful, while the redhead fails but still does better than the blonde, and the blonde fails altogether because of her stupidity). One thing that I think is really interesting is the lack of male blonde jokes; the stereotype seems to apply mostly to women, especially regarding jokes.

Folk speech–riddle

My source told me this riddle one night after a discussion of the riddles in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien when we were trying to think up riddles of our own. She said that this riddle was one that her dad told her when she was about twelve. “It isn’t a very complex riddle, but I like it anyway,” she told me. “It’s one of those things where after you hear the answer, you’re mad at yourself for not getting it because of how easy and obvious it is.”

“The first man was in a car accident and was sent to the hospital, where he was in critical condition. When the second man came to see him, a nurse stopped the second man and told him that only family members were allowed to visit patients. ‘Are you a family member?’ the nurse asked. He answered with the following:

‘Brothers and sisters I have none,

But this man’s father is my father’s son.’

Do the nurses allow him in?”

Answer: Yes. The second man is the first man’s father, so he is allowed in.

I definitely had the same reaction that my informant described in her analysis of the riddle. I couldn’t get the answer, and after five minutes of wracking my brain trying to think of something that would make sense in this context, I still wasn’t able to think of anything and was getting increasingly frustrated. Once she told me the answer, I just felt stupid for not seeing it in the first place. This can be categorized as an “enigma riddle,” one that relies on flowery language to confuse the listener. It takes a careful thinker to see the answer to this riddle straight off, and I found that frustrating.

Urban legend

My informant heard this urban legend when she was around thirteen, from a friend who was a few years older than she was and had gotten an email about it. She says that after hearing this, she was afraid to retrieve the change from vending machines, pay phones, and anything else that involved reaching into a small enclosed space. The urban legend is as follows:

“My friend told me that there was a new kind of bioterrorism or something, where drug users are getting rid of their used needles by sticking them into the change boxes on soda machines and stuff. It seems crazy, but just crazy enough to be true. So people are getting all these diseases like HIV, hepatitis, and lots more because the needles prick them when they go to get their quarters back.”

This is a great example of a “friend-of-a-friend” story, because my informant learned it from a friend who also heard it from another source. It undermines the credibility there, but most people are more easily swayed when information comes from a “reliable” source such as a friend. In addition, a story like this makes the “incident” easy to avoid because all the listener has to do is stop retrieving their change from vending machines and they will never experience what the urban legend warns against. Therefore, there is no way to prove or disprove such a story. In addition, I believe that some people may have started doing this after hearing the story, which makes it difficult to discover whether the story came before or after the event. I’ve heard this legend as well, and honestly it stopped me from ever taking change from vending machines or anything without “checking” the change box first. I was about seven or eight when I heard this.