Place item was collected
Logan, Utah, collector's apartment
Point of Discovery/Informant Bio
Informant: Garrett is my oldest brother, is 31, and currently lives in Chicago with his wife. Garrett was always the taunting older brother, relentlessly teasing us younger siblings. He was often the one to get in trouble first but he was also the one who was almost always guilty. Growing up he paid special attention to artistic detail and dreamed of designing cars. Garrett pursued his dream and graduated from the Art Center in Pasadena California with a Masters in Car Design. He now works in Chicago for RadioFlyer toy company as one of their top toy designers. Garrett is passionate about anything artistic, and is extremely talented in painting, sculpting, drawing, and designing.
Context: I interviewed Garrett over the phone since he was in Chicago. He and his wife were babysitting a two-year old while we were talking so it made it more difficult for him to focus at first and there were some slight interruptions. He told this as a Personal Experience Narrative but it is a story that all of us in our family have said at many different times making it a popular family legend. Growing up the word “suck” was pretty horrific to my mom, probably comparable to a swear word. She absolutely loathed loathed the word. Anytime we or one of our friends would say the word around her we were quickly reprimanded. After this experience happened, anytime one of our friends would say the “s-word” we would tell them this story. We told it so much it quickly became a family legend told by all of us. We loved it because it showed that even our dad said it, highlighting the frustration of our mom in not knowing what to do-whether to laugh because of the coincidence or because she hated that he said it. My father passed away 8 years ago and now this story is told out of endearment for my father and the funny parenting moments between he and my mom. This legend is one that could be appropriately told in most settings, especially near friends, except maybe the most religious gatherings. Garrett doesn’t think that our dad said “sucky” out of spite or sarcasm towards my mom but because he had spent so much time around us kids and picked up the latest jargon. We had probably picked up the word from friends and only said it away from Mom’s presence. Garrett remembers this happening when he was in his teens but this story has been shared at countless gatherings with friends and family since then.
Text: We, Mom [paused to start over] I was in Junior High, and Uncle Larry’s house was being built in West Jordan. And as we were pulling up, um, Mom had for a long time hated the word suck. But we were driving up to see Dad who was working at the house (yeah, I’m watching her) and as we were pulling up into the driveway I had said ”somethin sucks”. And Mom stopped the car, and it was kinda, it was cloudy out, it was like getting really stormy, but Mom started yelling at me as she pulls into the driveway. And she turns over and starts yelling at me and says, [in a high pitched voice] “Where did you learn that word suck? We don’t say Suck! I hate that word! We don’t say suck, where’d you even hear this from?” Right at that moment Dad tapped on the window and she rolls down the window and looks over and says “What?!” He pokes his head in, he’s looking up and says “Man, this is really sucky weather we’re having, aren’t we?” And Mom looked at him and you could see this huge contortion on her face that she didn’t know whether to yell, scream or laugh. [paused] It was the perfect moment. [laughs out loud]. And he looks back and says, “What?” [laughs] As if he didn’t know what he did wrong.
Texture: Garrett’s voice got really animated while telling the story. He took time to highlight the details, changing the speed and tone of his voice when he was quoting my mom. As if to imitate her yelling, his voice got high and screechy with increased speed. When he has shared this in person, he usually points his finger out, in a reprimanding way, when he is quoting my mom. When he quotes my dad his voice is more relaxed and rhythmic, in a happy tone compared to the frustration in my mom’s voice. He also will sometimes act out the body movements of rolling a window down, because we had an old van that required winding the window up and down. He will also tap his fist in the air as if to tap the car window when my dad taps the window in the legend. It was easy to tell that Garrett had told this before because he didn’t laugh until the end of the story. He stayed in character for most of it, telling it smoothly, and finally laughed at the very end. It was clear that Garrett loved telling this, and has told it often.
Introduction to Folklore 2210/English 2210
Dr. Lynne McNeill
Semester and year
G7: Marriage and Family
Teichert, Elise, ""Suck" Legend" (2017). USU Student Folklore Fieldwork. Paper 233.