Tag Archives: mole

Moles: The Marijuana-Smoker’s Addiction

Context: I asked the informant if he wished to participate in the folklore project fifteen minutes after he had smoked a bowl of marijuana from a bong. He was extremely enthusiastic about participating in the collection project, but wasn’t sure exactly what I meant by “folklore.” I explained to him that it could be a slang term for something he’s done or seen others do, and he quickly recognized the opportunity to talk about the term “mole” for smokers. I began recording, and asked him to explain what he meant by the term.


WD: So, tell me about moles?

DO: A mole, otherwise known as a moke, a mook, a chop, a T-bowl, a hairy Pete…

WD: 50/50?

DO: Yeah, it’s when you like, put 90% tobacco and a little bit of weed on top into a bowl of a bong, and you light the whole thing on fire, and you snap the whole thing.

WD: Yeah.

DO: And so, what happens to you is you basically [cough], become an incapacitated person for a good 25-30 seconds…. And you can’t stand, or do anything like drool or, like,  just look like an idiot. And they’re extremely addictive, since that whole effect is from the nicotine. And it makes you feel the nicotine in your head, like extremely in your head.

WD: Yeah.

DO: And they’re extremely addictive, like, there’s kids that do them all day. And it’s super bad for you. Like, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Informant: The informant is a 19 year old, male Iranian-American USC student. He was raised in Los Gatos, California, and attended a private all-boys catholic school in San Jose, California. The informant has heard many variations of the term “mole,” especially since he moved from Los Gatos, California to Los Angeles. Though the informant has experienced the effects of the practice, he told me that he wouldn’t recommend anyone doing it, simply because of the addictive qualities of a “mole.”

Analysis: The practice of taking “moles” can become a competition amongst smokers, especially in a party setting. By “snapping” the bowl (or, burning the contents of the bowl piece into ash before sucking it through the bong), smokers are forced to take the entirety of the contents into their lungs in a single pull. This leads to competitions to see who can pack more tobacco or marijuana into the bowl before taking the “mole.” This practice is meant to be lighthearted amongst smokers, but can be extremely dangerous as well. Taking “moles” can lead to vomiting and seizures due to the immense intake of nicotine, since one can smoke more tobacco through a bong in a single pull than with a cigarette in a single pull. In turn, this leads to nicotine addiction, one of the hardest substances to stop taking. Although taking “moles” can be a fun, lighthearted activity amongst friendly weed-smokers, it can also lead to a frightening dependency on the substances at hand.

Thai folk belief: Mole on foot

Shortly before starting her freshman year at college, my informant noticed a mole on the back of her left foot which she was sure hadn’t been there before. She mentioned the mole to her mother, and it was then that her mother told of her the Thai belief that when you get a mole on your foot, it means you’ll travel far. (My informant’s mother is from the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand.)

My informant strongly believes that this belief is accurate, because she moved away from home and into a college dorm a few weeks after noticing the mole. She told me that the belief was bo-lan, a historical saying, or ancient/common knowledge, and that you have to respect bo-lan. Though she didn’t move far (her home is about a half hour drive from her college), she believes that this is because her mole is fairly small, and the size of the mole either determines or predicts (she’s not sure which) how far you’ll be traveling.

The location of the mole on the foot is probably significant. The feet are associated with walking, and therefore travel. This belief reminds me of another bit of folk speech: the “travel itch,” the desire to travel. Moles can itch, prompting the desire to walk, which could be a metaphor for travel.