“Nose Goes”

Informant Data: My informant is an International Relations and Global Business major here at the University of Southern California. She is a first generation Filipina and is fluent in Tagalog.  She grew up in Oakland, California before coming down here for her undergraduate degree. She is very bubbly and loves to use proverbial phrases in everyday life.

Item: The custom of using the folk-phrase “Nose Goes” as a means of selection. The following quotations are direct transcriptions of my dialogue with the informant, while the additional information provided is paraphrased.

Contextual Data: My informant first heard this phrase on the playground in elementary school. She describes the process as: “If there is some type of unwanted task to be done amongst a group of peers, someone might shout “Nose goes!” and touch their index finger to the tip of their nose. Everyone must follow in suit as quickly as they can, and the last person to touch their nose is the one who has to do the task.” She says that on the playground, the phrase was used often to pick who was “it” in games such as tag, hide and seek, and “hot lava monster.” Nowadays, she uses it in everyday scenarios, but not in big decision making. “I will still use “nose goes” occasionally, maybe if no one wants to go meet the take-out food delivery guy or deciding who is going to drive a group to a destination.” My informant regards the process as rather childish, and therefore inappropriate for many situations, “but among close friends, its occasional use is fun.” She also speaks of its negative implications, as oftentimes, the last one to touch their nose is created separate from the group, now an “other” by rule of the custom. My informant implies that there are ways to cheat the system; to employ “Nose goes” when certain members of the group are distracted or busy, giving you and whoever else an advantage. “This is why “Nose goes” decisions are often disputed and the person who is last, is often annoyed.” This is an example of perspective enhancing one’s disposition towards a custom, if you come out on the advantageous side of this means of selection; it was performed in good humor and is acceptable. To be on the other side facilitates a switch of the perspective switch that views the custom as unfair and childish.