Author Archives: PAR

Hold Your Breath For A Graveyard

Text/Interview:

BR: “Every time you drive past a graveyard or pass through a cemetery you need to hold your breath! If not, evil spirits can enter your body!”

Context:

BR is unsure as to the first time he heard this particular piece of Folklore; however, he has been living by it his entire life. According to him, this is not something that he ever really believed. That being said, he has always held his breath anyway. BR claims that he knows the superstition isn’t true. His deductive sense of logic tells him that it isn’t real. Yet, he said that he never does superstitions based upon whether or not he deems them real. Instead, BR performs superstitions because he does not want to be on the other side of one that isn’t fake. In his own words, “I am not a superstitious man, but I need to cover all my bases just in case.”

My Interpretation:

I think this is a very valid superstition and I have heard variations on it during my life. However, what I think is most interesting about this superstition is the reason BR still performs it. I believe that the majority of people do not actually believe in superstitions. However, everyone does them anyway. I think this can be tied to our innate understanding that we do not know everything. BR knows that an evil spirit won’t enter his body if he breathes in a cemetery, but he holds his breath anyway. This shows that people are unwilling to dismiss the supernatural, even if their better judgment tells them they can.

Feet Up Over Railroad

Text/Interview:

BR: “Back when I was a little kid, every time we would drive over a railroad track my grandma used to remark, ‘Pick up your feet! We’re going over a Railroad Track!”

Context:

BR has been doing this for his entire life. According to him, picking your feet up when crossing a railroad has nothing to do with luck. Instead, it is a fun tradition that likely spawned out of necessity. BR claims that when his grandmother was a little girl, railroad tracks were legitimately dangerous. They were extremely bumpy and if you did not pick up your feet when you crossed, you could injure your ankles. As a result, picking your feet up over a railroad track became a habit for BR’s grandma and she passed this down to her children and grandchildren. The result is a tradition that BR claims everyone in his family has fun with.

My Interpretation:

I think that this is a very interesting piece of family folklore. What was once a necessity eventually evolved into a fun tradition he performs every time he crosses a railroad. Traditions like these are what create a sense of unity within a group and I think it will be interesting to see this tradition evolve as it passes hands from one generation to the next.

Thoughts Superstition

Text/Interview:

DS: “Here’s a superstition I live by. Every time I think of something negative, I knock on wood three times. If I don’t see any wood, then I knock on my head. It’s all about the transfer of energy. I’m literally trying to knock the bad energy out so it can be replaced with positive energy.”

Context:

DS does not define himself as a spiritual person; however, he does believe in good and bad energy. He wholeheartedly believes in this superstition. DS’s mother first told him this superstition when he was a child and he has lived by it ever since. He is unsure of its origins; however, he does not believe it has to do with his Chinese roots. Instead, it is simply a personal superstition that everyone in his family performs daily.

My Interpretation:

This appears to be a case of Sympathetic Magic. In knocking on wood or his head, DS is expelling the bad energy and leaving room for the good energy to flow. This falls under the Law of Contact, as the action being performed is creating the magical effect. Personally, I think this is a very interesting superstition. I always knew the superstition ‘knock on wood’ but had never heard of someone doing the same with their head. I feel like this helps to illuminate the meaning of the superstition and why it still holds weight to this day.

Annotation:

As this is a famous superstition, there are many variations of it within the popular culture. For further research, be sure to check out this Ted-Ed article:

LaBrascio, Lisa, and Stuart Vyse. “Why Do We Knock on Wood?” TED, May 19, 2017. https://blog.ed.ted.com/2017/05/18/why-do-we-knock-on-wood/. 

Blonde Joke

Text/Interview:

PW: “Why did the blonde get fired from the M&M Factory?”

PAR: “I don’t know. Why?”

PW: “She threw away all the Ws.”

Context:

PW loves blonde jokes because his wife is blonde. Any time he comes across one, he remembers it and tells it to his wife. Although she does not claim to find them funny, they always make her grin. PW does not recall when he came across this particular blonde joke. However, he remembers his wife’s reaction of pushing her palm into her face.

My Interpretation:

Jokes are a great way of building relationships between two parties. Nothing makes people warm up to you quite like making them laugh. PW uses blonde jokes as a way to strengthen his relationship with the woman he loves. We should all do the same.

Golf Joke

Text/Interview:

PW: “A guy comes back home after a round of golf. Just like all men, he’s usually in a good move after a day on the course but today, he is really dragging. His wife looks at him when he walks in. After looking at him up and down, she notices that he is dragging. The wife asks him what is going on. He shrugs and says that he doesn’t walk to talk about it. After a bit, the wife presses again. Rather than getting into a fight, he relents. The guy explains that everything was going great on the first nine. However, when his best friend Fred went up to tee off on the back nine, he had a heart attack and died right there on the spot. “Oh no!” the wife says. “You’ve known Fred for twenty years. That’s awful!” “I know!” The husband responds. The rest of the round was hit the ball and drag Fred. Hit the ball and drag Fred.”

Context:

PW is an avid golfer and has been his entire life. He does not remember when he first heard this joke, but he knows that it was told to him by one of his golf friends during an outing. PW states that this is a fairly common golf joke and he will hear it in the clubhouse every now and again. He says that it never fails to make him laugh.

My Interpretation:

Golf, just like every other sport, has its own niche community. There are jokes and stories within the golf world that get perpetuated and spread. This is a fantastic example of one of them. This joke is something that a passerby may understand, but only golfers will truly get and find funny.