Author Archives: ksjones

Loira do Banheiro/the Blonde in the Bathroom


SS: Loira do Banheiro, which is the Blonde in the Bathroom. There are a couple clips online to demonstrate what happened, people acting it out. Basically the story goes that there’s this blonde who went to public school, but she was pretty and kind and had all these nice characteristics, but she got bullied a lot: there were a bunch of people who gave her a hard time, who were rude to her, who didn’t treat her well. The story goes that she went to the bathroom, and that was especially where she got bullied. Something happened where she got in a fight, and the girls who were bullying her were like, pushing her around, and she hit her head. So she died in the bathroom. The idea is that she stays in the bathroom ready to haunt all the bullies and taunt them. So what happened is that my cousin and I tried it. It’s super similar to the American Bloody Mary: there are all these things you can do online. Go to the bathroom, like spin around three times, spin around three times, say her name three times. My cousin and I said every single one trying to summon her. But then as soon as we left, our aunts were like—I’m positive they were messing with us—but they said we saw her, that everything we did worked. And it’s a super popular story.

Loira do Banheiro

Transliteration: Loira → blonde / do → of / Banheiro → Bathroom

Translation: the Blonde in the Bathroom

Context: SS is my roommate and close friend, a recent graduate of USC who was born in Brazil but moved to the United States soon after. She frequently flies back with her parents and brother to visit her family in Brazil. She learned this particular legend from her cousins, not her parents, while she visited Brazil and decided to test it out.

Analysis: When I went to elementary school, we had our own version of Bloody Mary, which was activated by saying her name three times in our school restroom. Even in this analysis, I find myself wanting to make sure I don’t say her name too many times… obviously, it’s text, so the question is whether or not it would count, but I find myself not wanting to take too many chances. SS was the opposite, purposefully seeking her out in order to test the limits of the legend—a legend quest. The Internet definitely affected her perception. While she initially learned of the legend from her cousins, researching on the Internet became a large part of proving the ghost story’s validity. Her testing of the ghost story in this way could have only occurred in modern day—it veers into the realm of creepypasta and other online forums for ghost stories. The proliferation of information on this ghost story via the internet changed the way that future generations will interpret it. Knowing both Brazilian and American cultures gave her a unique perspective because she was able to recognize the similarities for herself, affecting the way she interpreted the legend’s validity.

Trapped in a Tuba Case


AX: I think a long long long time ago, one of like the brass instrument players got stuck in a tuba case. So in our band, we always had one case open in the storage area: I didn’t know if it was accidental or purposeful. Sometimes, we’ll have tiers of levels, like a trombone case open here, and a tuba case open there. I was like, is there always an instrument missing or something? And the people went oh yeah! It’s so that we can make sure that nobody is in there. And I was like in a case? And they said yeah! A long time ago, some kid fell asleep in his tuba case, and without knowing it, some of his band mates closed it and buckled it up. And this kid is still dead asleep by the way, like in a coma. Must have been a rough day at practice. When he woke up, he was like what the hell? And this was like midnight, so nobody was on campus, so he was just banging on his tuba case for help. In the morning they found him, and then they opened it, and at that point his tuba was right next to him. He was actually traumatized, so traumatized that he left his tuba and case in the band room, left and never came back. So now everybody leaves their cases open, including flutes and clarinets. I was like Jesus Christ! And it’s so funny because during practice, we joke about it. People actually sit in the tuba case, so we joke about closing it, like it looks empty to me! If that happened to me, I would resign myself and say this is how I die.

Context: AX is a freshman at USC studying English—she’s a fellow student in our folklore class and knows the material well. She grew up in Chino, a small suburb outside of Los Angeles. She’s of Asian descent.

AX: “I’m pretty sure it’s not real because like… all night? I don’t think it happened. I think it’s made up so that people are responsible with cases, so maybe it was made up by someone to force good instrument etiquette. It’s less of a horror story and more of a joke story. Now that I’m telling it to you, it sounds way more messed up than I thought.”

Analysis: The story is definitely a legend. It takes place in the real world, but it may or may not have happened. AX herself questions it. Though being a part of a high school band may not be a paid position, this story very clearly fits into the realm of occupational folklore as explained by Robert McCarle. It serves to enforce rules involving cases, but also acts as a catalyst for jokes. The joking that band members engage in about closing the tuba cases help reinforce a sense of community: members only “get” the joke if they’re familiar with the tuba case story, separating fledgling band members from the seniors. In the moment, it’s funny, and members seldom stop to think about the horrifying implications of being stuck in a case overnight. The story also provides context for the occupational custom of leaving cases open. The legend includes a leap in logic that AX acknowledged: how can you close a tuba case without seeing a person? It’s a part of the story that, being so well known, wasn’t challenged until the informant told the story outside of their circle.

The Monkey King


AX: “There’s this old story about something called the Monkey King, and how he goes from being… he goes through all these trials and training, like Hercules and the twelve trials. He goes from this little monkey who goes through all these problems, solving some and causing others, he ends up achieving godhood and he’s the savior. He has a trusty staff that can expand in size. It was very special that we had to remember that he has 72 transformations. It’s him, a pig, and like a sage, and there’s a monk that all of them follow. A journey to the West. If you go west enough, further west, you’ll hit mount Olympus, or the equivalent of that: enlightenment. So they try and go to the West and everything. It was important that the monkey king had 72 transformations, his little brother had 36, and then his youngest brother had 18, it was very important that we remember that. So this Monkey King has a band around his head, it’s gold and it’s enchanted, so his monk, his master can chant something whenever he’s misbehaving and it’ll tighten around his head in punishment. So like as they journey to the west, he always has this headband on him, so when they finally reach the west and everything, Buddha takes off the golden band and replaces it with a halo to represent how he’s gone from being imprisoned from his thoughts to him being enlightened, above that. When it was on his head, it was in contact with his skin, but when it was replaced, it hovered slightly above it.”

Context: AX is a freshman at USC studying English—she’s a fellow student in our folklore class and knows the material well. She grew up in Chino, a small suburb outside of Los Angeles. She’s of Asian descent.

AX: “My mom always called me her little monkey king, and would threaten me. Don’t make me put a red band around your head! Like, yes ma’am. I cannot misbehave!”

Analysis: The Monkey King is a common story, common enough for me, a white Californian, to have heard of it. Right off the bat, she compared her story to Hercules and the twelve trials. In Western society, Hercules is more commonly known, partially due to academic emphasis on Greek/Roman mythology and the popular Disney movie Hercules. AX’s childhood in California may have resulted in this association, almost a need to preface with a comparison to Western culture. I wonder if AX’s knowledge of the folklore class impacted her interpretation. The numerology of the story itself is interesting, especially since AX knew they were important but didn’t know what they mean. All of the numbers AX said are multiples of 2, 3, 6, and/or 8, which are all lucky numbers in China. And, of course, each is a multiple of the other. 18 times 2 is 36, and 36 times 2 is 72. 72 in particular is frequently used in Chinese folklore, occurring across a vast number of stories, and it’s the base of calculation in the ancient Chinese calendar.

The Little White Snake


AX: “This is very common. If you ask any Chinese person, they could tell you about it. So there’s this little white snake. My tale is… a long time ago, there was a little white snake, and she wanted to become a human and go to school. For context, I was a little girl who did not want to go to school, by the way. As she was slithering down the mountain, a hunter caught her and was about to kill her, but then the hunter’s apprentice, this little boy, was like no, she’s innocent, let’s just let her go! So the hunter released her, and she never forgot about this. So centuries pass by, and this little white snake has been training and learning to be a human forever, and then when she does it, she runs into the reincarnation of that apprentice, and they fall in love… happy story. They have a child. But then the monks found out she was actually a snake, so they locked her up under a tower. This little boy grows up, went to school trying to save his mother. He ended up being smart enough and gained enough credibility to force the tower to come down, and that’s how he freed his mother. There’s a lot of variations of it. I think in other variations, there’s no child, it’s just the snake falling in love with her lover, and in others, it’s not even a lover: she grows up and has a child with someone we don’t name, and she frees herself from the monks.”

Context: AX is a freshman at USC studying English—she’s a fellow student in the folklore class and knows the material well. She grew up in Chino, a small suburb outside of Los Angeles. She’s of Asian descent.

AX: “Now that I’m saying it out loud, it’s so obvious that my mom was trying to get me to go to school! I was like oh my God, I want to learn how to go to school and learn how to free snakes!”

Analysis: The informant acknowledges the existence of other versions, enforcing the fact that it’s a folk narrative with variation. It reflects both the individual and community—the story is very uniquely AX’s, drawn from her community but affected by her mother’s telling. As for the category, it’s a tale, primarily aimed at AX as a child, updated to reflect her need to go to school. On a separate note, the coloration of the snake is loaded with symbolism. Going back to Vaz da Silva’s examination of the chromatic symbolism, the snake was white at first, representing purity. On top of that, the snake is described as little, which reflects its age. It’s childlike in size, adding onto the white coloration to create the image of purity. However, when she grows up and reaches maturity, she loses the form of a white snake and thereafter gives birth, a symbolic loss of purity with sex. In this particular variation, the snake appears to have agency until after giving birth, after which her son makes the major choices in the story. Her loss of agency may reflect the patriarchy of society, where a matriarch is only in control of herself until she bears an heir, after which he takes control.

Hanged Mom in the Basement


GJ: I was in fourth grade. That summer, we moved into a bungalow. The very first day when we were moving in, there was a ring at the doorbell. I opened up the door, and there was this little girl who asked “is there a little girl here?” She had seen my little sister. They went up to play, and I joined them… I was only a year apart from my sister, so we were pretty close. This neighbor from down the street, she proceeded to tell us how her best friend had lived in this house before us, but on the day of her birthday, after her birthday party, her mom committed suicide and hung herself in the basement. Of course, we were really freaked out by this, so we were like maybe she made this up. So we go downstairs, and there were all the streamers and birthday decorations still hanging downstairs. Needless to say, we were scared of the basement. It was an unfinished basement that was very dark, and there was a big part of the basement that you couldn’t see from the bottom of the stairs, and that happened to be where the laundry room was. The laundry room was in front of where the stairs let out, and the rest of the basement was just dark. We… of course, this might have been led by fear, but we were convinced we heard sounds in the darkness, maybe even bits of light, enough to make us race back upstairs. It was quite some time before we worked up the courage to turn the lights on and start playing in the basement. Gradually the fear went away, but that was what it was like when we first moved in for several months.

Context: GJ is a Canadian immigrant who moved to Los Angeles from Toronto, Ontario when he was in his thirties. He grew up in Alberta. Because of his parents’ divorce and his father’s work flipping houses, he frequently moved around. His family prides themselves on being logical, and as such, when I first asked for folklore, he said that he didn’t have any because all of the things he was told were either “religious or true.” It took some pressing before he told me the ghost story detailed here.

GJ: “There had been a teacher’s strike right before that, so I was at a different school. Months passed and it went into the summer so I never got the contact information from my previous friends that summer, so I didn’t have any friends.”

Analysis: This legend of a ghost became a memorate… the story GJ heard about the death in his basement became translated into his own personal experience when he began experiencing things that verged on paranormal, such as the blinking lights and darkness. His avoidance of the basement could be read as ostentation. The fact that GJ was isolated moving in might have contributed to the way that he interpreted the story. He went from being in a large social circle to having no one. The fact that the very first person he meets in a new, unfamiliar neighborhood tells him a frightening story about the very place he lives in might have made him even more scared of it. The girl telling him this story caught him at a vulnerable time in which he was scrambling for security and belief, similar to how college students find themselves questioning whether or not they believe in ghosts. It’s a moment of turmoil in which he had to reinvent himself and redefine his own beliefs. Later, he regarded the story with more of his self-defined rationality, but the evidence remains that he thoroughly believed it at that point in his life.