Tag Archives: relationships

Gift your partner shoes and they’ll run away from you

Context: 

C is a 19 year old Filipino-American college student living in Los Angeles, California.

This conversation took place in my room as a group of my friends were hanging out and I inquired about any folklore or proverbs they knew. This superstition was thrown out following another friend and the informant bouncing superstitions off of each other.
Text: 

C: If you give your partner shoes, you’re also not going to stay together because they’re going to like run away. 

Reflection: 

This superstition reminded me that I had actually heard this one prior. I’m not sure where I heard it previously, but it seems to be a common piece of superstitious advice to not gift shoes so as not to drive the other person away. I think it’s very interesting too because shoes are also not a likely gift since you would need to know the shoe size of the person you are gifting to, which is not a common fact to know.

If you split the pole with your partner, you’re not staying together

C is a 19-year-old Filipino-American college student living in Los Angeles, California.

This conversation took place in my room as a group of my friends were hanging out and I inquired about any folklore or proverbs they knew. This superstition was thrown out following another friend providing one as well.

Text: 

C: If you split the pole with your partner, then you’re not going to stay together. 

Me: Wait what do you mean like split the pole?

C: Split the pole like, a lamppost or something, you’re like holding hands and like that. It’s just like a superstition. 

Reflection: 

This superstition was especially interesting because I have accidentally done this to a couple before and it made me think about whether or not I had somehow caused a breakup without meaning to. I think relationships superstitions are really interesting because it seems like the idea might originate from the fact that the parties are willing to let something break their “bond” apart. Additionally, the pole may be seen as a physical barrier between the two that may be predicting a barrier that comes in the future and results in the relationship falling apart.

Burning Matches Ritual

Main Piece:

Me: “Tell me about this ritual with matches.”

KY: …How is stumbled upon it is, haha, through TikTok. But I know that there is history of that idea of reflecting your past relationships through matches or through fire, specifically. And, using the wood part as like the remains of what is left of the relationship. And so, I decided to do this… To reflect on my past relationship with another person…

…Essentially, you would take two matches. You would set them on anything… But, uhm you would set them like a few inches apart, and you would light them both at the same time… And you would just let the story unfold, the burning unfold. And the results would be a reflection of [that] relationship.

[He now reflects upon one time he performed the ritual.]

…And what I reflect from it is a relationship where, there was both passion in both… In my side, it burnt out. The passion was gone, but it was still lingering. And their passion lasted longer… There’s a little bit of an attachment to me whereas I had it less… Their passion ended a little after mine… How I perceive it… I was the one to go first… and then they stopped talking… I still had feelings.

Context:

Taken from a conversation told in Cale & Irani Apartments in the USC Village. Between me and my suitemate.

Analysis:

This seems to come from a spiritual practice, and people have historically used fire as a way of reflection on the past or for a severance of it. My informant not only uses the practice introspectively, but he uses them as a symbol for him and other people in his life. He had witnessed the practice first through TikTok and had began using it in his spare time, a way of dealing with emotions. It’s interesting to me just how different the practice is for each individual; he/she can interpret the same exact outcome in completely different ways due to their own preconceived notions and the reality they wish to believe in. With the burning matches, we how people use folklore practices as a way of connecting with other people in their lives, this time on a spiritual level.

Main Piece: “Just because there is a goalie in the net, does not mean that you can’t score a goal”

Background: This is a saying that the informant learned from her friends at summer camp when she was in grade school. She attended a co-ed summer camp and as a way to keep themselves entertained, the kids would have crushes and say they were dating just because they held hands on the way to the dining hall one night. Because they were at summer camp and playing sports, the kids would say this proverb as a way to indicate that even if your crush had was in a relationship with some else, it did not mean you were out of luck or didn’t have a shot. 

Context: the informant still uses this proverb in her 20s, but the intention behind the saying has changed. When at summer camp, the campers did not realize in their youth that ‘homewrecking’ is socially unacceptable. They saw were so immersed in the competitive culture of camp that a sports metaphor for the romantic and social elements of life there seemed fitting. Now, the informant uses this phrase as more of a mocking joke. She will say it to one of her friends if they see a cute guy, but he happens to be in a relationship. She does not expect her friend to take the saying seriously or act on the meaning. It is interesting how the significance of this proverb has shifted from adolescence to adulthood. At camp, the kids were genuinely encouraging fighting for their crush, even if it meant hurting someone else; now, we can tease our friends in the same context, but with different intentions.

Thoughts: I have heard this saying outside of the informant’s interview and I have always found it to be humorous and I suppose true, but not something to take seriously. What I find interesting about this proverb, in particular, is that it is dependent on interpretation. The person listening to this word of advice can either hear it as ridiculous and funny or they can take it to heart and cause issues. The impact that his proverb has left the listener as an amused audience member or a person who is about to really damage someone else’s relationship. It is very black and white how this saying is received and depends greatly on who is hearing it- as well as their age, sex, and willingness to take charge versus be passive.

The Brown Helmet

Text:

Informant (R): Yeah the KA’s had a tradition, we called the Brown Helmet, um, we had a travelling trophy that was awarded to the last person that got dumped by a date or a girlfriend. Uh and it was a brown army helmet. The reason it was brown or was called the Brown Helmet, or why it was appropriate was because you had been shat on by your girlfriend or your date who dumped you. So you know if you were unlucky enough to have the brown helmet, you were just waiting for someone to get dumped so you could give it back to them. Yeah, so we had that.

Collector (J): Was that something you learned during pledging (initiation)?

R: No, it was even before, because we lived in the house and we hadn’t gone through hell week or any of those things yet and you know I got, shit, I probably got the Brown Helmet before I was an active actually.

Context: The informant was recalling his experience as a fraternity brother in college. He is remembering his time there and the traditions celebrated as his child goes through the pledging process.

Analysis: The Brown Helmet is a way of expressing the recent loss of a relationship in a humorous way, encouraging brothers to be open about their experiences. The fact that every individual has the potential to wear the helmet also allows for a sense of solidarity for those who currently have the helmet, as they can seek advice from previous recipients. At the same time, it shows other brothers to be more sympathetic to the wearers of the hat. However, this could also make the wearers more likely to be teased for being “dumped.” Regardless, the sentiment behind the color brown certainly shows the negative attitude and stigma around being broken up with. In a way, the brown army helmet shows that regardless of their relationship status, the brothers are able to fight through it and reclaim their identity as a bachelor.