CD used to go to a camp every year in the Midwest when he was in high school. He told us about a tradition at the camp:
“If you had a crush on someone you’d give them a spoon in the dining room. You’d take your spoon and if you were into someone you’d give your spoon to someone and walk away.”
He then told us about something that happened with this tradition and his younger sister:
“My sister’s boyfriend (at the time) gave her a spoon and she kept it. At some point he took it back and fashioned it into a ring or something for her.”
CD is a student at the University of Southern California. He is from Zionsville, ID.
This story was told during a folklore collection event that I set up with a diversity of members from the USC men’s Ultimate Frisbee team. We were in a classic folklore collection setting: sharing drinks around a campfire, in a free flowing conversation.
As young people mature into adults, relationships are one of the most – if not the most – stressful aspects of that transition for many. Having a ritualized tradition like the “crush spoon” may be a way to relieve teenagers of some of the doubt and angst that arises when trying to figure out how to confess your feelings to another person.