“Biz” – Fraternity Tradition

Informant: Sam Kitaj is one of my best friends from high school. His heritage is English, Russian, and Jewish. He is 21 years old and grew up in Westwood, California. He went to high school in Los Angeles and now attends a university and is studying Real-Estate Development. He played sports his whole life with a focus on soccer and is now in a fraternity.

Sam told me, “In my particular fraternity, it is frowned upon to say the number ‘5,’ because of a drinking game we play called beer die. The game involves throwing up a die in the air and trying to have it hit the opponents side of the table and bounce awkwardly enough so that they cannot catch the rebound. By some off chance the die does not exit the plane of the table, it will land on a number. The number 5 is forbidden and if it lands on 5 then the person who threw the die has to finish his beer. Also, during the game you are not allowed to say the word 5 so instead it is substituted for the word ‘BIZ.’ It has now become a custom in my particular fraternity that, even when not playing beer die, you say ‘biz’ instead of the number 5.”

Sam learned this particular folk speech tradition from the older members in the house when he was a younger member. It is now a humorous aspect of the house and people say biz whenever 5 is commonly said. For example, “It’s ‘biz o’clock” or “1,2,3,4,biz,6,7.” It is just a way to distinguish the houses vocabulary from others and it makes it have something unique. It is even funnier when someone forgets the rule and says ‘5,’ people don’t hesitate to correct him instantly. Its a cultural thing that is specific to the particular group.

I personally find this particular custom hilarious. Its such a silly way to translate an aspect of simple game into something that occurs on a daily basis. I can really understand how this could be a fun tradition around a fairly small group. Grilling those who don’t abide by the rule is a typical occurrence that happens nearly everyday, giving a common situational humor. Even though it is not that important, it is looked at as so. This creates a common dialect between the members of the particular group and allows for them to grow closer through this fun game that they all play.