Tag Archives: teen

Taser Tag at the Exposition Park Rose Garden

I heard about this game while many of my housemates were gathered around a table and drinking. The first time the speaker shared this story, he also bragged about other rules he had broken as a child or young adult. This story is an example of ‘forbidden play’ and it took place near the University of Southern California.

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After the Exposition Park Rose Garden closes for the night, those who enter can be apprehended for trespassing. From 2013 to 2015, the speaker said that the cycling community in Los Angeles was “massive.” After one large race in 2013, the speaker’s friends gathered in the rose garden and someone suggested that the group of 13, 14 and 15-year-olds play taser tag. Cyclists carried tasers, knives or brass knuckled with them and they rode ‘suicide bikes’ or racing bicycles that have the breaks removed. ” A lot of us have very traumatic lives where we just pain sometimes makes us feel alive.” The speaker explained that about 15 of the 50 cyclists gathered owned tasers, and that the game was well received by the group.

In the event that state troopers caught the boys in the rose garden, they would scatter. Those who were caught were given “a slap on the wrist” and sent home.

The speaker never had a taser, so he was a ‘runner.’ There were no rules about where tasers could attack. ” You could taste in the nuts. It’s wherever this person lands the taser. The good thing is it wasn’t high voltage… enough to drop you on the ground. That’s it.” The speaker said he had been tased in the neck. Girls could attack with tasers but the speaker said they seldom outran the boys. Anyone playing Taser Tag in the rose garden was fair game for attack. He admitted that Taser Tag was fun because it was forbidden, as was “using self defense weapons as offensive weapons.”

Taser Tag games with the speaker’s group occurred five times between 2013 and 2015. The last time, one member brought pepper spray and the speaker said “All 10 of us suffocated. And you’re like, Dude, this guy that comes back. We’re going to hurt him.”

The speaker said that “growing in South LA is kind of like a free for all,” and that “whenever a bunch of kids run around with bikes, I rather see them doing that than dealing drugs.” The speaker noted that some of his cyclist friends who played Taser Tag did get involved in gang activity after their group dissolved. When asked what the game meant to him, the speaker said that this “was a day where all of us no matter what ethnicity where we’re from, who we are, it’s just fun. And that fun involves a little bit of pain.”

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This speaker retold this story in front of friends. I believe that this memory is important for the speaker because many of his friends have left or are no longer living. This memory is also important because the speaker enjoys rough activities, and it is difficult to engage in rough-and-tumble activity as an adult. I believe this time reminds him of an era where he did not have to worry about larger adult problems, and this brings a sort of nostalgia for something one can never do again.

For more information on forbidden play, see Folk Groups & Folklore Genres Chapter 5, Children’s Folklore by Jay Mechling.

Simp: A Teen Colloquial Term

Context: The following interview was conducted online between the informant (CG) and I(Me). The informant is a freshman at CSUN. He encountered the term on social media and in-person with his peers and classmates.

CG: Most people think a simp is a kind gentleman who would do anything for women. Just kidding a simp is a boy who obsesses over women and does extreme things to get their attention. It’s like saying you’re a slave to women.

Me: Where did you first hear of the term simp?

CG: I  always described some guys to be like this but never knew about this term until I saw this on Twitter or Instagram. I see it a lot when guys would share their dm’s(direct messages) on their feed and sometimes others would call them a simp.

Me: Does a simp always have to be a guy?

CG: Not necessarily, I see it being used as a term for being sad over someone in general but because guys have more sexual tendencies and want women more, I see it more in men.

Me: Is a simp a bad thing?

CG: I think it is being overused and oversaturated. Generally, it is looked down upon now since it is used too much, but before it used to be something somewhat serious since it meant that someone was really hurting but now it’s more of a meme.

Thoughts: The creation of the word in itself shows the emphasis on mental health that a majority of young adults value. It is interesting how the word has changed to a meme. Its change in meaning shows how we are slowly being desensitized to many modern problems.

The Proctor House

Folklore Piece

“There’s this house in my hometown of Castro Valley, California called the Proctor House and it’s near Proctor Elementary School and it’s also near my house. It’s empty now, like no one lives in there, and it’s mostly populated by homeless people or drug addicts. But, basically like teenagers are dared to go in there and there’s this room that you go in and there are all these dolls lined up on the mantle. And the story goes that there was this couple that used to live there together and they um they’re foster parents, like they would bring in kids every so often, and one by one these foster kids would kinda just disappear from the foster system and no one knew why. And it was discovered that this couple had just kinda murdering their foster kids and they murdered like four kids. I heard this story when I was in the 7th grade from my friends when I went in the Proctor house. But I heard it throughout my teenage years. The dolls, like, had the spirits of the kids inside of them, or something.”

 

Background information

This story would mostly be performed by children around the playground or in social situations near his school and the house. As our informant mentioned, he learned this story first from his friends. He would later also tell me that all the parents knew about this story and wouldn’t let their kids go near the house. He said while this was probably because of the aforementioned homeless and drug addicted populations, many kids like the informant would interpret this as an affirmation of the mystic dangers of this house.

 

Personal Analysis

The dynamic between the children that recount this story and their parents are what I find to be most intriguing. The children believe the tall tale of the haunted house and the clichéd dolls-as-murdered-children horror story, most likely as its grandiose details are continuously reinforced in those kids’ social circles and media. The parents, however, know the house’s true nature, and that it is potentially very dangerous and filled with drug addicts and squatters. These harsh realities of life might be too much for a kid to hear, and so they simply say “Don’t go into the Proctor House.” Somewhat unintentionally, this furthers the legend of The Proctor House as being haunted. In my research, I couldn’t find any authored material on the Proctor House; this would suggest that this legend is relatively local and new. Perhaps the house became abandoned and overrun when the participant was young, spurring the rumors. When I asked the participant about the story’s origin, he said that he wasn’t sure.

Also interesting is the house’s role as a legend quest. When the kids are old enough to brave a trip into the Proctor House, it’s viewed as somewhat of a rite of passage, affirming their role as a “big kid”, or young adult. Ironically, though, it is their discovery of truth about the house, either firsthand or from their parents, and the loss of the childlike innocence about the house’s true state, that affirms their role as an adult.

「青春」– Japanese Folk Speech

The Japanese word 青春 does not apply itself to an exact translation in English. The first letter of the word, 「青」literally means “green,” and in this word is used in the context of a green bud or fruit perhaps, just about to ripen. The second letter, 「春」literally means “spring,” or “blooming.” At first glance this may seem like a word meant to indicate a time in the harvest, but it is, in fact, actually a very colloquial word used to describe a romanticized vision of the teenage years of one’s life.

My informant was a teenager in the city of Naha, Okinawa, Japan, in the seventies. The word has been so long engrained in Japanese society that when I asked her about it, she looked perplexed, asking, “What do American people use to describe those feelings then?” Those feelings, as she described them to me: the first time she realized she had strong feelings for a boy, the first time a boy had asked her out, “that feeling you get when you finally get your first kiss,” the moment when she’d realized she wanted to touch the opposite sex, and not just to hit them, either.

“It’s not all this romantic for everybody. [Laughing] I mean, 青春 can be used to describe things like your first summer job, your first summer away from your parents at camp or something, but I keep coming back to this one time, after this guy I liked gave me my first kiss in front of my house, and he left, and I just sat there on the front steps of my house in the dark, just sat there thinking and thinking, that just happened, not wanting to go inside because that would kind of ruin the magic. That kind of… teenage frailty? And vulnerability, how important everything is when you’re that old–that’s what 青春 has always been for me.”

However, I found it interesting that most teenagers themselves do not use the word 青春 to describe their current state. The word is primarily used by older people who have advanced well beyond their teenage years, to look back on a time when everything was fresher, new, and exciting–in fact, it is a word that exists mostly for the purpose of invoking nostalgia. For instance, my informant remembers, when she had finally gone inside the house after sitting on the steps for a while, she had been caught by her mother in the kitchen. Her mother had said, smiling, “Anything happen then?” When my informant shook her head, she couldn’t help but stay grinning like maniac, and of course her mother knew, and said, “Kiss?” My informant nodded, and her mother sighed romantically, saying, 「ああ良いよね〜、青春」which translates to, “There’s nothing like 青春, is there?” Even in this case, it is the mother looking back on her teenage years, perhaps her first kiss, and feeling nostalgia for the time that has passed–sad, perhaps, that that time will never come back to her, but happy for her daughter, who has yet to experience so much. My informant would never have said, for example, “Oh, this is 青春,” for it is in itself a word tinged with nostalgia. Her mother saying “There’s nothing like 青春,” I thought, is the equivalent of an American mother saying, “Oh, I remember my first date,” except in Japan there is a word for it, and it comes pre-packaged with nostalgia.

When my informant asked me whether there was an equivalent word in English, I was surprised. “Puberty,” didn’t really do it–the connotations were too sexual and bodily in nature, and there was not as much of the vulnerability and freshness that colors 青春. A significant part of the meaning inherent in 青春 comes, I believe, from the fact that they do not reference the changing nature of the body; though, of course, it is apparent indirectly in the budding feelings between the opposite sexes, the word focuses more on the emotions and the intense, painful nature of love at that age. Sexual encounters in 青春 are thought of as always awkward, and always romantic, stemming from love and innocent desire more than anything else. Under the umbrella of the word 青春, everything becomes noticeably more innocent, more okay.

Perhaps this word works and is so widespread in Japan because of its extremely homogeneous society; 青春 as a word probably means very similar things to many people across the country, if only because the culture has been so standardized by television and by the homogeneity of the people themselves. There are countless movies, dramas, mangas, and animes devoted to the theme of 青春, and indeed novels concerning this period in life often make the top of the best-seller lists in Japan.

Unlike in America, teenagedom is something the Japanese look back to, then, with a certain fondness. Often, I hear people in America saying that they never want to go back to high school again, that they wouldn’t survive a single day in middle school now–in Japan, although of course some people must feel the same way, the general feeling is one of an almost maternal fondness. Remember this? Remember that? They say, as they watch a new generation of young adults going through the 青春 that they themselves had experienced perhaps long ago. “Lucky them,” my informant said. “If I could stay one age all my life, I think I’d just stay in that period of 青春, it must have been the most fun I ever had.”

 

 

Exploding Toilets and A Corpse — Senior Prank Legend

My informant goes to high school in Tustin, California, where he is currently a junior. A few months earlier, he had heard of a legend of a senior prank that had occurred perhaps ten or so years back, where they had flushed all the toilets at the school at the same exact time to see what would happen to the plumbing.

They had these stopwatches, right, and all these walkie talkies, and they pressed the stopwatches at the same time and flushed the toilets just as the timer went down to zero. They wanted to see if a pipe somewhere would explode I guess, but then, instead, two toilets just blew up. Uh, I think one was a female staff toilet, and the other was in one of the main guys’ bathrooms. The toilets just like, blew apart, all the porcelain and whatnot. Which was fine and all, except later when they were trying to clean up the exploded toilets, the fixer-upper guy found a hole in the wall of the bathroom and looked through it and there was uh, a dead body in there, like scrunched up and still fresh-looking, like a girl just crawled in there and curled into a ball and died or something. Anyway, he thought she was dead, but then he’s staring at her and he can’t move because he’s so freakin’ scared, and she turns her head towards him kind of, and she doesn’t have eyes, like they’re just sockets on her face, and in the sockets there’s one of those millipede things that comes crawling out. Anyway, the plumber guy told everyone but nobody really believed him because they checked later and it was gone, but still. And they fixed the toilets and stuff, but man. The guys’ bathroom is a freakin’ scary place.

No one knows where this legend originated from, although my informant said that his Latin teacher, who had worked at the school for two decades, does remember a senior prank where the seniors all flushed the toilets at once–though he does not remember anything happening as a consequence. “I’m pretty sure toilets don’t explode even if you flush a whole bunch of them at once,” My informant said, laughing, “but it makes sense that the stories spread because the bathrooms are freakin‘ disgusting here, like really bad. And it smells so much that we probably wouldn’t notice a corpse for a while.”

I feel like the legend is significant because it pits teenagers, most of whom think of themselves as invincible, against death, even if it is a very unrealistic and cinematic depiction of it. School is a place for boredom, for homework and tedious routine–to introduce a corpse into such a scene is jarring, and sets the entire nature of their everyday lives off-balance. That the legend became so widespread, however, is not surprising; people like a good scare, and school is a place of boring routine. Although my informant and his classmates probably thought this legend was very original, there are probably many, many legends of something similar to this in schools all across the world.