My friend is someone I met two years ago when I first came to USC. She and I lived on the same floor and had similar classes. She was born in Japan and immigrated to the U.S. when she was less than four years old. She heard this reference when she was visiting her friend back in Japan in high school.
When a girl cuts her hair to make a drastic change, it means she was dumped by her boyfriend or rejected when confessing to someone.
The saying falls along the lines of a sort of remedy to channel the girl’s sadness or frustration at rejection. It represents the rejection but also a new beginning that comes after a type of failure. The cutting of one’s hair signifies that one has abandoned the faulty past and is working to move one to the future. The hair is significant because a maiden’s hair is a major form of attraction for men. Cutting off this form of attraction can mean that the boy had no attraction towards the girl so she might as well cut it off. The importance of hair in the Japanese culture accentuates the act of cutting it and this in turn accentuates the meaning behind it.
The informant (A) has been married to her husband (D) for 24 years. They got married in a non-religious outdoor ceremony when A was 24 and D was 29. Though I do not recollect them being overly romantic while their children were at home, this changed slightly after their youngest son left for college. I asked A if she remembered anything she wanted to share with me about her wedding and told me of a practice that the reverend suggested on their wedding day and they continued to do for a couple years after their wedding. The reverend was of no special importance to them other than that he could legally marry them. When the reverend was talking to them before the ceremony, he said that they should give each other a single red rose whenever they needed to remember that they loved each other enough to get married. This could be in response to an argument, a special day like an anniversary, or just because. A continued to say that she gave D a red rose on their anniversary, and they maybe did this a couple of other times in the first couple years of marriage, but as life went on they forgot about the practice when other things became more important. A did not seem upset that she and her husband had stopped the practice. It was just something to do.
The romantic nature of a red rose itself has little to do with this gesture other than being a pretty story. The red rose could be replaced with anything: a favorite candy bar, a stuffed animal, a card. The meaning to this gesture seems to be in the kindness of remembering to give the red rose rather than the red rose itself. Effectively, giving the red rose simply says “I remember that I love you, and I want to show you that I remember.” A and her husband stopped doing this a couple of years after they got married, which coincides with when they had their first child. This is the point at which I think that they ceased to be a “couple” and started being a “family,” which does not need special gestures to show that there is love between them. A rose pales in comparison to looking at a child that you created with another person. Being romantic and stereotypically sappy does not seem to be a part of A and D’s relationship.
My informant here recounts a knock knock joke which was spontaneously told to her by an adolescent:
So I was babysitting this kid, and he started telling me this knock knock joke: he was like “knock knock” and I was like “who’s there?” and he was like “window!” and I was like “window who?” and he was like “window to your heart,” and I was like “wow kid that’s really deep.”
Although my informant said she felt as much amusement as genuine gratitude in return for this knock knock joke, she mentioned how “awesome” it was since it had come from a child. Indeed, the propensity of the cheesiest lines to touch us when recited by children can only be due to their pure child-like honesty. In fact, It was this selfsame pure benevolence, which comes through this knock knock joke, and so touched my informant.
In Indian weddings in general, Henna is very very important. And it is said that the darker it is, the more your husband loves you.
This belief, while known to be a mere superstition, is still venerated and guarded as paramount to the success of a marriage. So much so, that there are articles and tips in Indian wedding magazines and blogs as to how to obtain a darker stained Mehndi. Some brides, Mayuri mentioned, go so far as to bleach the skin around their upper and nether limbs in order to have the henna stand out more from their skin and appear darker.
My informant shared with me how her sorority celebrates one of its members getting pinned by her senior boyfriend in a fraternity. First, the fraternity shares with the president of the sorority that a member of their fraternity is intended to pin a sister in the house. When a date for the pinning is set, the sorority informs the house that a sister is getting pinned, but the girls do not get to know who. Any girl in the sorority who has a senior boyfriend is asked to come to the ceremony wearing a red dress and to send the president the names of her two closest friends in the sorority. Then, on the day of the pinning, all members of the sorority are required to wear black dresses except for the girls who are eligible to be pinned. These girls will be in red. The girls in black gather in the sorority house with the lights dimmed and stand in a huge circle. A ritual song is sung while the girls in red join the circle and stand in-between their two closest friends. A candle is passed to the right, starting from the ritual chairwoman, around to every girl in the circle once. On its second time around, after it passes the girl wearing red who is getting pinned, her best friend standing to her right will make to pass it to the next girl, but then actually pass it back to the sister getting pinned. The two closest friends then blow the candle out together. That signifies that it’s that girl, and this is when she first finds out she is getting pinned. After the candle is passed around, all the sisters line up outside of the house where the fraternity and the sister’s boyfriend are waiting. The boyfriend and his best friend as well as the girlfriend and her two closest friends stay standing on the porch so everyone can see them. The sorority president introduces everyone and officially announces that the sister is getting pinned. All of the close friends give toasts to congratulate the couple and the boyfriend talks about his relationship with his girlfriend. Then the fraternity presents him with his pin and he pins it on his girlfriend.
These ceremonies are very fun and exciting for both the fraternity and the sorority as pinning is comparable to a pre-engagement promise. The fraternity brother is giving up his active pin and is essentially reduced to pledge status within the house. It’s a little bit old fashioned, but the girls appreciate this public acknowledgement of their relationship. My informant was just involved in a pinning ceremony at her sorority at the University of Southern California, as her best friend was recently pinned.