One custom that I never partook in is “Hell Night.” It’s on Halloween, and a bunch of backwoods hicks would drag mattresses into the street to set on fire, throw and break beer bottles, smash pumpkins, and a bunch of other stupid shit. Some would do graffiti, there’s always a bunch of public intoxication arrests, and more. It’s an outlet for bad, stupid shit to happen. Luckily, this only happened around where they lived in the deep woods because they’re too fucking stupid not to shit where they eat, but it was really unfortunate for people who live back there because it blocks the streets forever until they are cleaned up. There were even several bomb threats on bridges and water towers, if I remember correctly.
I’ve seen people throw pumpkins on TV, but I’ve never seen it in person, so it was interesting to see where people have partaken in this.
When I was younger, my family would always have this big, all-day Christmas dinner with mashed potatoes, a bird, cranberry sauce, ham, spinach, collard greens, and all this other stuff – basically, Thanksgiving round two, but with cool presents and shit. While our mom was cooking, we would open up cards from the tree and then we would wrap up about the time my mom was done cooking. When she was, we’d take turns opening our presents and revealing to everyone else what we got. We had already opened one the night before, usually. This didn’t stop until after we both stopped believing in Santa. We would also sit around and watch A Christmas Story all day. I think that it’s the perfect Christmas movie and it reminds me of home whenever I watch it. I’ve seen it probably a thousand times by now. Most of these other rituals were stopped after I turned eleven or so. My parents started outwardly showing that they hated each other and they didn’t have time for “holiday bullshit” anymore.
In wrestling, we would say the Lord’s Prayer before each match. I think that this is a pretty common thing with many athletic programs, but Tennessee is the buckle of the Bible Belt. Most of us were basically religious, but it made me slightly uncomfortable. That’s beside the point, though. We shouldn’t have been allowed to by any normal means, but we were because the state turns a blind eye to it. Our coach thought it helped us in some small measure, but I think it made him into an atheist after our line-up would get smashed by some hillbillies. Even the religious kids didn’t really think that it did anything, but – hey – it was just some thing that we always did before each match.
In Jiu-Jitsu, we have a few traditions that we do to show respect to our instructors, our partners, our opponents, and our founders. We call ourselves jiu-jiteiros, by the way. Something antiquated that most schools no longer do is hang a picture up of Helio Gracie, who founded the sport as we know it today with his brotReher. Rather, he popularized the form that we know and laid down the ground for the sport to grow as it has. Students will bow to his portrait, then their instructor, before a class. They must bow before they enter and exit the mat, too.
I find that this hanging up of the portrait is done only in Gracie Barra schools, though. Others, Americans that start their own schools, usually do not honor the Brazilian like this because they’ve evolved their own system or whatever. I’m not sure what the deal really is, but it feels old to me. They do all the other stuff, though, maybe except for bowing before they get on and off the mat. That varies, depending on the school.
We shake hands or bow before we roll, which is our term for sparring. I’m from the South, and we would only slap hands before, but this West Coast thing is to slap and then fist bump. I would sometimes also clasp both my hands around theirs, which is a very Asian thing to do. One more handshake we do is clasping each other’s wrists, which is supposedly how the Spartans greeted each other. I guess that invokes some sort of warrior spirit. Anyway, I don’t know how common that is.
Finally, we all bow to our sensei at the end of class and everyone shakes hands with everyone. Jiu-jitsu is all about respect – of yourself and of others.
In soccer, we high-five after the games as a sign of respect, so I can understand these traditions.
My grandma watches the news too much and comes up with these crazy stories. So this one time, I mentioned how some of my friends and me were thinking about going to Mexico for the summer for a quick vacation, and then she told me this story of these girls who went to Mexico for spring break together. And they were out one night partying, and on of their friends either went home with a boy, or just went missing. They tried to find her, but they couldn’t and so they drove home and as they were driving through border control, they looked over and noticed their friend I another car with sunglasses on. They tried to get her attention, but couldn’t so they flagged down one of the border control officers and told them that that was their friend and when the officer when to the other car to get their friend, he noticed that she was dead and that the people she was with were trying to smuggle drugs in inside her dead body.
I’m not sure where this urban legend stemmed from, but I’ve heard a variation on this where people say that drug smugglers use hollowed out dead babies to smuggle in the drugs. I do know that the drug war in Mexico is crazy right now, and it actually is a very dangerous place to go, but using dead people to smuggle in drugs doesn’t make any sense. I’m pretty sure a border patrol officer can tell the difference between a live human and a dead one. Additionally, that would just make matters way worse if they got caught cause then that’d mean that they’d have murder on their hands too.
So where did your grandma hear this story?
I think on of her neighbors. She’s very social and also pretty old so she tends to mix up what she hears on the news with what she hears from another person. But regardless of its source, she’s a very paranoid and overcautious person anyway, so anything she hears that’s bad just perpetuates this.
I’ve never heard of someone going through such crazy measures to smuggle drugs, but I’ve heard this before on the news.