Outside Clothes and Inside Clothes; Keep your House Clean

M is a 20-year-old black female. She is currently double majoring in NGO’s and Social Change and Communications at the University of Southern California. M grew up in Boston, MA but currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. M primarily speaks English, but she is also fluent in Spanish.

M: I’m really good at absorbing other people’s superstitions. My best friend from high school though that, ’cause she’s from Brazil, and her mother said like if you brought, like wore street clothes on your bed, that you would like bring like disorder to you life as well as to your bed because it was like dirty. Um, and so, like she would always like give me pajamas to wear like if I was to going to like, even if I wasn’t staying over, but like if I was goig to be at her house for a while or I had to do homework at her desk or like sit like on a beanbag chair like I was not allowed to like touch her bed unless I was like not in street clothes. She doesn’t either, like she does not sit on her bed unless she has taken off her jeans.

Me: Like you have to be in nice clothes or?

M: No, so like whatever you wore outside is dirty, so you have to wear stuff that you only wear inside, and so she like only wears her pajamas inside in the same way, like she would never go outside in sweatpants because then your not dirty clothes are dirty.

Me: That’s so much work though. To change every time you come home and leave.

M: I mean like, but if you grew up in it you just would never wear, like she also has like sweats that she would wear to the gym, and then she has pajamas.

Me: Ok.

M: And then her pajamas are meant for inside, and her sweats for the gym are meant for outside, as well as her other outside clothes.

Me: Alright, that makes more sense. But, so, do you do that? Or no?

M: No, that one is irritating. But I would always follow it when I was in her home ’cause obviously I didn’t want to be disrespectful but I, um, don’t think that I, like there’s so much disorder in my life already, a little more dirt is not going to change things. But there’s just a lot of things that I adapt into my life.

M describes an everyday cultural practice that she was introduced to by a friend who’s family follows it. The tradition seems to be specific to Brazil, but might be attributed to the culture of different nations as well. Unlike the Japanese tradition of not stepping on thresholds that she adopted and now follows still as an adult, she only follows this practice in the people’s homes who do follow the custom. It seems that M only adopts the cultural practice that she has learned when they could quite possibly effect the people around her in a negative way.