My informant (18), from Maryland, describes a riddle that she and her friends performed in middle school: “It’s not really a joke, but it’s more like a challenge, like a “are you dumb” challenge. So it’s like I bet I can make you say the color pink ‘okay’ okay so then you’re like ‘what’s the color of the sky?’ ‘Blue’ ‘What’s the color of this chair?’ ‘Brown’ ‘What’s the color of my hair?’ ‘Black’ ‘What’s the color of the grass?’ ‘green’ ‘Ha, I told you I could make you say green’ ‘no you didn’t, you told me you would make me say pink’ and that’s how you make them say pink”
“And so it’s like this little thing that my swim friends and I, back in the past, like middle school? We would just always perform this on each other to like try and get the other person and just to make them seem, you know, like it’s more of like one of those ‘stupid tests’”
The informant began by saying this was a joke, and then changed to calling it a challenge, and finally called it a “test”. I think this piece is actually a kind of riddle, because it tests the wits of the person it is performed on, but instead of wordplay, there is a “trick” meant to catch the subject. Because this is used within the informants team, it might imply that performing this trick affords the performer a kind of social capital in the group when they are successful, suggesting that intelligence is valued in the group.