“Personal Jinx… I think the saying was ‘personal jinx, you owe me a coke.’ If I said the same word at the same time as one of my friends said the same word, then whoever called out jinx first was the winner and the other person owed the winner a coke and couldn’t talk until the winner said her name 3 times”

Lindsay is my 22-year-old best friend and roommate. She grew up in Encino, California also known as “The Valley” but after graduating from USC last year, she lives with me in Westwood, California. She is the middle child, having one older sister and a younger brother. Lindsay and I spend a lot of time talking to one another but it was fun for her to think back on childhood memories for this collection project. Lindsay remembered how enthusiastic her friends and her would be about the game and how seriously they took it, “sometimes the person who was silenced by the jinx wouldn’t be allowed to talk for 15 minutes… and when you’re a 13-year-old girl, that’s very difficult… but we did it.” The Game itself is widely spread, almost everyone I know, has participated in jinx or knows about it. Lindsay even admitted that even now sometimes if her and a friend say the same word at the same time then she says personal jinx and everyone laughs because everyone has those memories back in grade school. There is something very universal about children’s games and that universality unites our generation. Lindsay said she learned about the jinx from her friends at school, that “one day I observed a jinx and that’s how I learned it… but its also been in television shows but I’m pretty sure I knew about it before I saw it on TV.”

To Lindsay, this game embodies childish antics. Lindsay, like most other kids, learned most of her social interaction skills while at school and this game was just another way of socializing and learning to be part of a group. The game was also an equalizer, you didn’t have to be the smartest or the most athletic to win, you just had to talk to your friends to participate.

The amazing thing about this game is that even in examining the rules, there is something quintessentially American about it because to lift the jinx, the winner must say the losers name 3 times. The number three seems random, but it’s a comfortable number just like the 3 Little Pigs and others. Even Axel Olrik’s Epic Laws describe the use of 3.