Author Archives: Connor Wilson

There Was a King

“Ek thaa raja.  Ek thee rani.  Dono margaye.  Khatam kahaani.”

That is a folk story in Hindi which roughly translates to:

“There was a king.  There was a queen.  They both died.  End of story.”

CONTEXT:

“When I was young I always wanted to hear a bedtime story before bed, but on nights when my parents didn’t feel like reading me a real one they would tell me that terrible story instead and then leave before I could ask for another one.  I hated it growing up, but now I do the same thing all the time to my little sister whenever she asks me for a bedtime story.”

ANALYSIS:

What I especially like about this piece of folklore is how quickly it was passed down from the parents to the informant and then from the informant to the little sister.  It shows a very clear lineage of the folklore, which is what folklore’s all about.  There’s also a very unique and self-aware sense of humor to this piece that I find really charming and wish I saw in more pieces of folklore today.

Brazil vs. Portugal

“So my mother’s Brazilian, and in Brazil there’s this stigma against people from Portugal.  It’s kind of like how people in America view blonde people as being dumber than average, or maybe it’s more like how people in America see people from New Jersey as lesser people.  So like, in Brazil, there’s just this stereotype that people from Portugal are dim-witted or something.  Like, if someone does something stupid, Brazilians will say, ‘oh, how Portuguese of them’ which sounds really mean, but there is an heir of teasing behind it.  It’s not like Brazilians are bigots that actually have something agains Portugal, it’s just this kind of international teasing, but just with a little bit of truth behind it (laughs).”

ANALYSIS:

This is a really interesting cultural stereotype to make because while it is playful, it wouldn’t exist if people didn’t at one point in time, believe there was some truth behind it.  I would be really interested in seeing how this stereotype originated, and if it was still teasing back then or if it was really serious.  And seeing that it’s even still slightly serious today, I would think that it was serious back when it originated.  After all, I don’t think it would have stayed around for as long as it has without people believing it to at least some degree, like the informant does.

The Headless Mule

“My mother’s Brazilian, so when I was growing up she would tell me the Brazilian folklore story of the headless mule.  The story goes that a sinful woman was cursed so that she was transformed into this headless mule that could spit fire out of its stump.  So every Thursday night the mule would run around in the dark spitting fire everywhere it went, and, if you happened to come across it, it could turn you into a headless mule, too.  But I think the contingency was that it could only turn you into a headless mule too if you had committed the same sin as the original headless mule, something like infidelity or something, I’m not sure.”

ANALYSIS:

This folk myth is super interesting because of how many different variations there are of it.  Nothing the informant said is inherently incorrect, it’s just that this is merely one version of the myth, and there are many others that are equally valid.  Additionally, the authenticity and the heritage behind this myth really fascinates me, as it’s a traditional Brazilian myth, and the informant is familiar with the myth because of his mother’s Brazilian background.  The myth connects the informant to his heritage, which is something I really appreciate in folklore.

For another version of this riddle, see the Volkswagen commercial titled “The Legend of the Headless Mule”.

Family Recipe

“My dad taught me this recipe, it’s not even an ethnic recipe, just a family recipe for this cool dipping sauce.  You combine paprika and garlic powder and a little water and then this other ingredient I’m forgetting, but it makes for this really good, kind of dry sauce that goes really well on a hamburger or something.  My dad said he picked it up from a diner he worked at, so I guess that means this recipe went from some unimportant condiment at a diner to a staple ingredient at all our family’s meals, which is pretty cool.  But I’m not sure he’s telling the truth about picking up the recipe from a diner, I feel like that doesn’t make enough sense for it to be true, because I’ve worked in restaurants before and no such recipe exchanging has happened around me, but nonetheless, now that sauce recipe is a staple of our family.”

ANALYSIS:

This origin story of a family recipe is super cool because it subverts two common tropes of family recipes: that they are long traditions passed down from the ancestors of the family, and that they are secrets.  Not only did this family recipe start in a diner that the father of the informant just happened to work at of all places, but the informant clearly has no regard for who hears the ingredients, and they are listed very clearly above.  Still, the recipe has quickly managed to become an important part of the family, so it makes me think that maybe this is the beginning of what will become a long family tradition with this family.

Beware of Wheelchairs

“So there’s this superstition I have, and I don’t really know where I first picked up on it, but I still take it really seriously just because of how much sense it makes.  It’s basically a superstition that if you sit in a wheelchair when you aren’t physically in need of a wheelchair, you’re giving yourself bad luck and making a bad omen that you might, one day, actually need a wheelchair through some freak accident or something.  It’s basically just a general rule I follow, since I don’t need a wheelchair, I just won’t sit in one because there’s really no need and I just don’t want to risk it.”

ANALYSIS:

This superstition is really interesting because it has almost no logical standing but yet still exists pretty prominently it seems.  It’s not a superstition I would follow because, despite what the informant thinks, it really doesn’t make any sense, as there’s no way that sitting in a wheelchair once could possible correlate to you being wheelchair-bound in the future, but that’s the thing about superstitions: they don’t have to make sense, they just have to have a root in the believer’s mind and then they exist.