“Be tough about it”

Background on informant: Informant is a senior at USC, studying international relations. She is involved in many student organizations,

Informant: My father played soccer forever so he’s always tough about anything pain-related. He has a very high pain tolerance. Regardless, as a kid when there was anything wrong, he would say, “be tough about it.” That’s the phrase for everything. You get hurt, etc… He would hit you in the forehead in a joking way and that was a distraction from whatever thing it was. It could be literally anything if we were complaining. I say it to other people. Now it’s like a phrase.

Analysis: I found this piece of folklore to be compelling because it sheds light on how folklore is performed, taught, habituated to a certain extent and passed down. The informant, who does not have as high of pain tolerance as her father, is told again and again to tough it out when there is a problem and now it’s a folk saying that she reports performing when in the company of others. I also thought it was interesting that the informant has such a personal connection and personal associations, the way she talks about how her father interacts (jokingly hitting her forehead), for a phrase that is somewhat banal and self-evident. It suggests that this piece of folklore, in addition, to serving a person in social interactions is also personal and connects her to the person who first performed it for her.