Author Archives: Kyle Henderson

Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain slept with 10,000 women

One of my informants was telling me about a legend that Wilt Chamberlain (famous NBA player) slept with 10,000 women over his career in professional basketball.  While this rumor was undoubtedly started by Chamberlain himself, it offers an interesting insight into how professional basketball players see themselves and their role in pop culture as sex symbols.  Although this claim would be difficult to prove (and even more difficult to actually accomplish), it inspires people who want to further a legend like Wilt Chamberlain.  Even without this claim, Chamberlain would be a basketball legend in his own right (he is the only NBA player to score 100 points in a game).  This claim only furthers the persona by which Chamberlain may wish to be remembered.

Chef joke

Q: How do you know whether the chef is a clown?

A: Because the food tastes funny.

Being a chef, my informant wanted to tell me a story about her days in the kitchen, but she couldn’t think of any good ones.  Instead, she decided to tell me one of her favorite chef jokes that is pretty well-known in the industry.  I had never heard the joke, but I love hearing occupation jokes (lawyer, doctor, banker) from people who work in the field.  When I heard this joke, it made perfect sense because it suited my informant’s personality.  Additionally, even though the joke is fairly simple, it shows that chefs are especially good at keeping a light and open mind about their profession.  Often if lawyers hear lawyer jokes, some of them will immediately get upset, and this is indicative of how seriously they take their job.  Instead, I was grateful that my informant could lightheartedly play around with her job.

Why did the chicken cross the road…

When I asked one of my informants for a joke, he brought up the chicken crossing the road bit and asked if that was a joke.  I didn’t know how to respond.  When someone tells it properly, it is clearly not funny in a traditional sense.  However, it has become so recognized as an unfunny joke that I wonder about its place in society.  It is not a traditional joke; it is not a proverb; it is not a parable or a story used to teach children anything of use.  Instead, it is just kind of…there.  He had never thought about it that deeply until I began to probe a little bit more.  We both had no idea how to properly categorize it within pop culture.  Neither of us knew the origin of the chicken crossing the road, and we weren’t even sure if the original answer to the question was that he crossed the road “to get to the other side.”  Unsure of what to make of the famous chicken, I decided to include it with a question: why did someone ask in the first place why the chicken crossed the road?

Fraternity fountain run

I talked to a friend of mine about a tradition at our fraternity that is somewhat similar to the USC fountain run at the end of the year.  Instead of jumping into the fountains with all of the fraternity brothers, we use spots across campus to teach our new pledges about the history of the fraternity at USC and to give them advice as they embark on their college experience.  My friend (the informant) talked about what our fountain run meant to him.  He remembers walking to one of the classrooms on campus and hearing a senior talk about the balance between schoolwork and having fun.  Not surprisingly, the senior advocated focusing on the social aspect of the college experience because there will never be a time in our lives to enjoy it like the present.  In my experience, I remember hearing about the rivalry between USC and UCLA, fraternity traditions that have been around for over a century, and how we should maximize our time at USC to ensure that we have the best experience possible.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

This is a proverb that has been thrown around in both the informant’s and my lives for as long as we can remember.  While we both first heard it as children, we may not have fully understood its meaning until we were older.  My informant tells me that now that he is a bit older (but not too old), he sees why this proverb came into existence to describe how your way of thinking and going about things changes as you age and gain more experience in life.  Some things that you’ve done all your life like tying your shoes, brushing your teeth, or cutting your food are so ingrained in your physiology that it is almost impossible to completely change them unless you really dedicate yourself the task and make a concerted effort .  I have to say that I agree for the most part, but I believe that change is a part of life.  I know that throughout college, I have changed for the better.  Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but an old dog certainly can learn at least a thing or two from a younger dog.