Author Archives: mmmendoz

Reindeer food at Christmas

Main Piece:

We sprinkle reindeer food on Christmas Eve. Like out in the yard on the grass. It was a big big deal when I was little, and we still do it for my brother. It’s oats with glitter in it, and I used to think I was feeding them. It’s cute, and I was always so excited.

Background: My informant is from Kansas City, Kansas. She has a loving relationship with her family, and she was raised Catholic. Her family is traditional.

Context: She is a good friend of mine I made at USC. We FaceTimed (quarantine prevents live conversations), and I asked her if she had any sort of folklore after explaining the concept, and she told me this.


I think this is a super common idea of leaving out food for Christmas. My own family used to stick carrots and chocolate chip cookies out for Santa, and my mom would take a bite out of each so that it looked half-eaten in the morning. is a recipe for this reindeer food, and this variation includes a note. I have heard of leaving a note, but I never did and neither did my friend.

Dap him up

Main Piece:

In an all-boys environment, usually if you don’t personally know someone, or if you’re like acquaintances, you greet them with a dap. A dap is like if you were to shake hands, but there’s a little more to it. You like grab the guy’s hand, and you hold it lightly and casually, and it’s more up and down and slidey. There’s multiple kinds, but this is the typical form, especially when you’re meeting someone new. It’s called dapping. An example is your friend introduces you to one of their friends, and so you dap them up as a greeting, and say what’s up. I don’t know where I learned that, but I’ve probably been doing it since summer going into freshman year, or that’s when it became super normal.


This is my little brother talking to me as we sit casually together.


My informant/brother goes to an all-boys school, and is a masculine boy with a lot of male friends. He would be considered “bro-ey” or a jock. He is a freshman in high school.


Almost every American boy I have ever known does this. It’s an informal greeting, and a very masculine one. They don’t hug, but they always do this. Girls joke about it.

Hell week

Transcribed straight from my informant:

Main piece:

So hell week is a time in the summer, like one of the last weeks before school starts. It’s when the fall sports teams basically have an intense week of working out and preparation for the upcoming season. In my experience, it was water polo, but people usually think of football.

Usually, its multiple hours–up to 5 or 6– of working out, in the pool for me or weight training. It’s just really intense, and they’re just testing out our skills, meaning there was nothing to lose if we were sore because there was no season yet. They have always been doing that, and it’s terrible and scary. It’s an entire week of five hours every day, I hate it.


My little brother told this to me as we sat together casually after I asked him about his folklore. He has been playing club water polo competitively for at least 4 years now, and he takes the sport very seriously. He is a jock. He is in an all-boy’s high school that is known nationwide for its excellence in sports.


My school also had hell week, and I think it’s a pretty common concept for athletes, at least in American culture. I think the better you are at a sport, the more intense this becomes as it is also intended to pressure the athletes psychologically, bad as it sounds.

Phantom shitter

Main Piece

Well, from what I know, there’s some guy from before school hours or after school hours, when no one was around and no one could see him, and um, he just pooped wherever he felt like it and didn’t clean it up. They call him the “phantom shitter or shitters” because there were multiple people who were involved. I guess it was a prank, maybe it was a senior prank, but it was really gross. People say it’s real, but it was such a long time ago that nobody really knows for sure. I think it was real.

Context and background: My little brother told this to me as we sat together casually. He attends an all-boys high school, and the specific high school is well-known in the area for its epic senior pranks. The school has very masculine energy.


This legend is absurd. I heard it long before he told me today, and I agree that it is a local legend. This to me makes sense only in an all-boys environment where the boys are silly and mischevious and unafraid to do things like this (this would never happen if girls were also there). I believe it’s real, and I remember some of my friends who are much older than my informant would claim their brothers knew who it was.

Call him Kuya

Main Piece

So these are “birth order titles”. Names for the oldest, second oldest, and third oldest, and the titles are different by gender. There are roles attached, so the first born is called Kuya (male) or Ate (female), and they are supposed to lead the family. They are the back-up mom and dad. This was slapped into us– if you didn’t use the titles, you were severely punished. The second borns are the back-ups to the Kuya and Ate, called Diko and Diche (male and female respectively). Third born is Sanko and Sanse, for boy and girl. So most Filipinos have known of and do the Kuya and Ate, but only what they call real Tagalogs (regional group) do the other titles. I was the third born, called Sanko. The other children don’t get titles.

Background/Context: My informant and father told this to me. He is Filipino, born in the Philippines. He comes from a large, close family.

The Philippines is a very family-oriented country. I have seen how major of a role these titles have played in their roles with each other. I think this reinforces a hierarchy among them, but also a sense of loyalty and responsibilty.