# English riddle

Main piece:

The following is transcribed from a riddle the informant gave the interviewer.

Informant: A pine tree grows 10 pineapples.

Interviewer: Ok.

Informant: Two of the pineapples out of the 10 fall. How many pineapples are left on the tree?

Interviewer: On the tree? Or are there?

Informant: Are there on the tree.

Interviewer: I would say ten minus two so 8 left. But it’s probably wrong.

Informant: Correct! You’re wrong. There are 0 pineapples on the pine tree.

Interviewer: How come? What do you mean?

Informant: Because pine trees do not grow pineapples.

Background: My sister was born in LA and she goes to school in Downey. She first heard this riddle about a year ago. She usually says when there’s “usually nothing to talk about”. She remembers it because “it was pretty good and easy to follow”.

Context: After giving me a myth, I asked if she knew of any jokes or riddles. She responded with “yes I know this one” and continued with the above riddle. This was taken from my room. Casual.

Thoughts: I fooled myself. I consider myself a numbers person so when I heard 10 and 2 I just did basic subtraction but I didn’t pay attention to the pine tree and pineapple detail. In a way, I guess it shows I’m not a good listener. All in all, it was a short and concise riddle that served its purpose. It made me say “oooh yeah” after getting the joke. I tried to fool my dad later on but he said 0 so he actually listens. This can be a listening test now that I think about it. A good listener would say 0 and a poor listener would say 8 just like I did.

# Legend of Slender Man

Main piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and interviewer.

Informant: A guy who supposedly lives in the woods and he goes…  umm for young teenagers and kids. And it has it that he gets these kids to basically collect their faces since he doesn’t have one. And lets see… umm… where was I at?

Interviewer: You said that he collects their faces since he doest have one.

Informant: Oh ok and he does it because he believes that he’ll get a face but he doesn’t.

Interviewer: And does he get boys only or girls only? Or how does it work? Who does he kill?

Informant: Well we don’t know. He just makes them go missing. They disappear but it’s random.

Informant: Well he’s known to have a black suit and a white face and octopus-like tentacles… you know like the arms I’m talking about.

Background: My sister was born in LA and she goes to school in Downey. She knows this story from a couple years ago when she was talking to a friend about scary stories. She also watched the Slender Man film that came out in 2019.

Context: We were in my room and I asked her if she can tell me any scary stories like myths and legends and gave her La llorona as an example. She proceeded with the legend of Slender Man.

Thoughts: I’ve heard the story of Slender Man. I know there’s a mobile game about him and a film that came out. I’m personally into scary stuff so I know the legend. As to whether it is true or not, I believe it’s not true. It doesn’t make too much sense to me. I don’t find it plausible but it’s a figure I know relatively well, or at least I can tell his story, and can be frightening with the right setting.

White, Sylvain “Slender Man” film (Fall 2018).

# La Llorona legend

Main piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and interviewer.

Informant: The llorona was a woman, a very beautiful woman but very poor. And well… she was very pretty so a lot of men went after her but she fell in love with a wealthy man.

Interviewer: Did she marry him?

Informant: Yes, they marry but… um the husband’s father didn’t like her because she was poor. I don’t know if it was in the revolution, yes or actually I’m not sure. The point is that in the revolution, the husband gets killed. And the father-in-law took her kids to educate them himself and left her on the street. She pretty much loses everything, and he makes sure to leave her nothing.

Interviewer: And did she kill herself or what?

Informant: No, she saw death and hunger and war but she was always looking for her children. She sees a lot of things that haunt her. She cried for her children and would call others to help her find her children but no one believed her because of her poor appearance. And finally, she dies searching for her children… but she dies sick, unprotected, poor, and crazy for everything she lived and saw with the wars in that time. She dies young, she doesn’t die old. But she always expressed the love and her necessity in finding her children. And from that point on, in the pueblos… umm it’s said that since she dies without finding her children, her soul never rests and she goes about yelling through the walls and streets searching and calling for her children.

Interviewer: This version is very different from the story I hear all the time.

Informant: This story was the one that my grandmother would tell me and my sister and she would say that La Llorona was very beautiful… but very beautiful. And in the ranch, when the sun was setting, my aunt would call us in because in Queretaro… write down that it was in Queretaro…

Interviewer: Yeah I got it.

Informant: Ok so in Queretaro when a boy or girl went missing, my aunt would say it was La Llorona, or that the Llorona would take them. And she wouldn’t let us play after sunset. Anything that happened to young kids: a disease or a death or a disappearance… anything really…  for almost anything, it was said it was La Llorona.

Background: My informant was my mom who was born in Mexico City. She heard this story of La Llorona since she was a kid and she’s seen a lot of variations but carries with this one the most. She heard this story from her grandmother, my great grandmother, who is 104 years old. So since my great grandmother lived during the Mexican Revolution, my mom thinks her story is plausible.

Context: I didn’t tell her I was doing this for a project at first so I asked her “is La Llorona evil?” and she responded with “no” and I continued by asking “wait. What story do you know?” and then the main piece was transcribed from our conversation and her story telling. The setting was my house.

Thoughts: I found this version of La Llorona very interesting because it was the first time I heard it like this. From this story, I actually felt bad she was taken away from her children. I no longer see her as the murderer of her children. I enjoyed this story and will be telling this version from now on.

Citation: For more information and variations of La Llorona, check out the following sources.

1. Carbonell, Ana Maria “From Llorona to Gritona: Coatlicue in Feminist Tales by Viramontes and Cisneros” in MELUS, Vol.24, Religion, Myth, and Ritual. (Summer, 1999), pp. 53-74.
1. Chavez, Michael “The Curse of La Llorona” film, (Spring, 2019).

# Mexican myth

Main piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and interviewer.

Informant: A ritual that you have to do, no matter if you are Mexican, German, Chinese, American… it doesn’t matter what nationality you are. Everyone does this when they go up the first time.

Interviewer: Wait what? Where?

Informant: Oh umm at the pyramids of Teotihuacan, the ones we’ve gone to in Mexico.

Interviewer: Oh ok. I know what you’re talking about.

Informant: When you go up the sun pyramid, you count the steps, all 365 of them and once you’re at the summit. At the top of the pyramid there is a circle etched in the center and a hole where your finger fits. When you’re there, you have to raise your hands towards the sky so that Quetzalcoatl, the sun god, fills you with energy, purifies you, gives you wisdom and fortifies you that year.

Interviewer: And everyone does it?

Informant: Ahhh! Don’t you remember when we went, we have pictures of us raising our hands. And the people around us were raising their hands towards the sky. All the people, doesn’t matter what nationality, sex, or religion… Everyone does this when going up the sun pyramid for the first time.

Background: My informant was my dad. He was born in Mexico City as well. He knows pretty much every touristic area in Mexico because he traveled a lot in his 20s and 30s when he was a marathon runner. He’s taken me to the pyramids before, and after collecting the performance, he helped my mom find pictures of us raising our hands when we reached the summit of the sun pyramid.

Context: I just asked my dad if there were any cool stories or myths he knew about for a project I’m working on. He asked “what do you mean” and I responded with “anything, a story or a myth” and he proceeded with the myth about the sun pyramid. The setting was in our backyard as we were taking a break from yard work.

Thoughts: I was a kid when we went to the pyramids of teotihuacan and I remember going up a bunch of steps. The pictures helped me fill in some gaps but I never knew the hand-raising to receive energy was a thing. I thought we did it just as a pose or something, but after hearing the myth, I was impressed with it. It’s something that traces back to the Aztecs and something that tourists from all over the world do, so I found that pretty enticing.

# Mexican proverb

Main piece:

“El que mal obra, mal le va”

Transliteration:

He that wrong does, wrong you goes

Full translation:

He who does wrong, wrong he does

Background: My informant was my dad. He was born in Mexico City but moved to LA at the age of 15. He brought this proverb up during a conversation we were having about a family friend’s mild car accident. When I asked him when he learned this proverb, he said he’s known it since he was 7 and that his dad told it to him when they were both working at a donut house in Mexico.

Context: My dad was telling me about a close family friend who got into a car accident, a very small and almost insignificant hit. However, the victim here was requesting \$25,000 in medical expenses 15 months after the accident. He was telling me that based on the description of the accident, such as speed and car damages, his friend couldn’t have seriously hurt the other person. My dad called him a fake and dishonest person and said this proverb to encourage me to always be honest and have word.

Thoughts: This is a very wise proverb. I even consider it as advice because there are so many dishonest people nowadays who take advantage of circumstances and individuals. Sometimes it’s tempting to do wrong for one reason or another but I believe there is always a solution to problems and that a person’s word and credibility is most important. So this proverb teaches me that I should maintain good and life will eventually reward me and those who do wrong will do poorly in life.