Author Archives: RPM

Hiccup Remedy

I’ve never found an effective remedy for the Hiccups and a friend offered the following :

“You’re supposed to eat a spoonful of peanut butter. My grandma told me about this, and it really works!”

Since there is no real scientific procedure to cure hiccups, I’ve subjected myself to many folk remedies in an attempt to find one that will actually work including but not limited to: holding your breath, breathing heavily in a paper bag, chugging water upside down, rubbing your head while rubbing your tummy and having someone pour water down your throat. Most never work for me although their proponents still claim their efficiency.

People seem to often derive their hiccup remedy from heritage, be it family or location. Most importantly, the hiccup remedies that people are most familiar with are held by them to be the ultimate cure. My family never had a designated hiccup remedy so I’ve spent a lot of time looking for my own, this one seems to work the best.

Luck on A Game Day

On Home-Game Saturdays during the Fall semester, USC’s main campus is covered with tailgate parties. These range from tame alumni and fan cookouts, to blackout-inducing keg stand ragers. Regardless of the University’s opponent, a few things remains constant: drinking, eating, rivalrous talk, and superstition. As kick-off approaches the tailgates begin to wind down and the tailgaters head en masse to the Coliseum. Most tailgaters will head to the Coliseum through Trousdale, the small brick street in the middle of campus, regardless of where on campus they were actually tailgating. A graduating senior explains the ritual that follows this procession to the Coliseum :

” So you walk down Trousdale past Tommy Trojan, and Shumway fountain and then when you get to the very end of Trousdale right before Expo there’s this big lamppost. Right before crossing the street for the Coliseum you kick the the lamp post. But you kick it with your heel, so backwards. If you miss you’ve given the whole game bad luck. If you don’t kick it and you’re a USC student that’s bad luck too. So everyone who walks by and is walking to the game for USC has to kick it. Sometimes you have to wait ’cause  it gets kind of crowded. And people can kick you by accident sometimes. I guess that’s bad luck too.”

This ritual reflects and anxiety of the vast population of USC students and aficionados. It is amazing to see the number of people who are otherwise unaffiliated with USC who go to tailgates and participate in this ritual. Undergraduate students seem to take the superstition particularly to heart, often reminding each other to enact the ritual or scolding those who do it wrong.

In a game where spectators invest so much (financially going to games & funding tailgates, physically enduring the long hours of tailgating and exposure during the game, and emotionally) in the success of their team it must be frustrating to have the entire outcome out of their control. Participating in such rituals gives them a sense that the outcome is also to a certain extent out of their teams control – and therefore they can not be held completely responsible. Loosing then becomes a matter of bad luck instead of choosing the wrong team. It also gives a little more control to the spectator as their individual actions can finally contribute to the outcome. By kicking the ‘post USC fans are doing their part in fighting off any bad luck to plague their team.

SuperSkank Doppleganger

One of my friends was especially concerned last year with a potential Doppleganger. She had never encountered evidence of her Doppleganger until she came to USC. Here she explains the first instance she heard about her other’s existence, and her most recent experience with her Doppleganger’s antics:

“Freshman year during welcome week, I was with my friends at one of the events and I was eating a snow cone and a guy came up to me and asked me how my snow cone was and started a conversation in a way that seemed like he already knew me, which was confusing, then he introduced himself to the girls I was with and asked me for my name again, though he hadn’t gotten my name the first time…he then told me that we should go to chipotle again sometime soon. This was extremely odd because I had never been. My roommate looked at me and asked ‘When were you at chipotle?’ and I responded that I wasn’t at which point the guy told me that there was a girl on campus who looked just like me.

At one point last year at a block party, the girl was there as well. I kept having random guys come up to me and “reintroduce” themselves. I even had a man try to kiss me. Everyone was dancing in the street and all of a sudden a guy I’d never seen before dances over to me, grabs my head and tries to kiss me. I didn’t really know what to do. I pushed him off and he got all confused and asked ‘Aren’t you the girl in my class.’ I was not. But apparently my Doppleganger was and she would’ve been okay with this dude making out with her. So not only do I have a doppleganger, I have a superskank doppleganger.”

A Doppleganger is a German “double goer” – a physical double of someone who lacks their soul and is therefore some kind of spiritual void. It is believed that when a person encounters their Doppleganger, they will die. Fyodor Dostoyevsky explored this frightening superstition in The Double (1846).

My friend took a class freshman year that introduced her to the concept of Doppleganger’s and the imminent death associated with their presence.  After the bombardment of sightings of her Doppleganger last year my friend had the following conclusion, “I have to kill her.” She of course didn’t actually kill her, in fact she has never seen her Doppleganger herself. But after she started joking about this her look-alike never resurfaced and hoards of strange men stopped assuming she would be okay with them kissing her.

Death on an NY Subway

A New York native heard the following story recurrently during her high school years – mostly from fellow students but also from a larger population including adults and strangers:

“They were sitting on the subway and someone across from them was asleep. You know their head was bobbing along with the subway.

And apparently this person was on for many stops and so finally someone notices and gets up to check. And it turned out they had no pulse.

I heard this every once in a while not just from school but people in New York in general.

I wonder if someone just like imagined, ‘Hey what if the person on the subway across from me is dead’… and then the story just caught on?”

This story might be recurrent in New York’s subway system in particular because of the city’s notorious crowding. New York’s subway experience more use than those of other metropolitan cities, certainly LA, and it makes sense that lore would rise from such a distinctive method of commuting within the city for most residents. The concern with overcrowding spills out of just the subway system to the city in general. As the pseudo-farce political party to emerge from New York The-Rent-Is-Too-Damn-High suggests, overcrowding has become a serious problem in New York. This story reflects the fear that overcrowding isn’t only uncomfortable and inconvenient (often driving the rent ceiling way up) but also an interpersonal problem when residents stop interacting.  Even though the subway would likely have been packed during the dead man’s entire trip no one manages to notice he is dead for a substantial amount of time. The issue then becomes the isolation experienced by residents despite, and possibly because of, the overcrowding of New York.


This initiation ritual is actually not a true one. It was told by a participating pledge to my informant and explained that at the time of their initiation they were not aware that the ritual described here was untrue and in fact were expecting to have to go through it :

“They tell them that at some point they’re all gonna have to get into a room and in the center of the room is a goat.

And no one can leave the room until someone fucks the goat.

But whoever fucks the goat…is automatically out.”

The ultimate goal of initiation is to prove yourself worthy of joining the organization which is testing you. You undergo horribly straining situations most often physical or moral to prove your worth, but most importantly, your willingness to be a loyal member of this organization. This particular supposed initiation used for fraternities plays on fears of transgression and exclusion. It also acts as a riddle and in this sense tests not just the physical endurance and integrity of the pledges as most initiations do – but also tests their mind.

Since pledges are alerted about this upcoming initiation beforehand by their older “brothers”, they would certainly begin discussing methods of facing this challenge. Some would hope to simply sit out the challenge in solidarity with their pledge brothers, but older brothers would complicate this by saying if no one has sex with the goat then no one passes. The fear instigated by this initiation’s seeming impossible nature and certain shame and failure to the pledge who sacrifices for his fellow brothers creates a conundrum initiation for all the pledges.