Monthly Archives: May 2014

Taboo, Part II

So a while ago I wrote a little post on taboo, which I cleverly titled…Taboo. In it, I wrote some words about some stuff, with the main idea being there are certain things that we have all come to accept as ‘taboo’, and sometimes it’s good to just go ahead and break the different taboos that are surrounding you. Well, today in my (ahem) cross cultural communication class (woo alliteration!), I learned some more stuff about taboo. And then, because I had wandered into something to wonder, I proceeded to head to my favorite internet search engine, Google, and start typing. And I found out some pretty cool stuff.

As it turns out, taboo is actually a pretty old word. I didn’t know how old it was, or where it came from, until today. But I wrote a whole blog post about it. Anyway. Taboo actually comes from the beautiful state of Hawaii. To be more accurate, it comes from the Polynesian explorers who first discovered the Hawaiian island chain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean some 1,500 years ago. Since Hawaii is a volcanic island chain supposedly millions of years old, these folks were the first humans to arrive there, one of the only conquests of exploration that I am aware of that did not end in European diseases wiping out a majority of the indigenous population.

But speaking of Europeans and their diseases, it is a European who we have to thank for all of our knowledge about the ancient Hawaiians, and their culture. I’m sure there’s some irony in that. Yes, Capt. James Cook of Great Britain “discovered” the island chain in 1778, and was then killed by some angry Hawaiians when he captured one of their chiefs to try and reclaim a boat of his that had fallen into indegenous hands. In any event, his landing in Hawaii gave the west some exposure to the Hawaiian culture, simultanously demolishing it by giving the Hawaiians exposure to smallpox. But, before they were totally demolished, we did learn some stuff about them.

The ancient Hawaiians actually had a pretty cool social structure. It was comprised into several classes, the most revered being the Ali’i. The next class down was called the Kahuna, and consisted of people such as preists, so next time you say ‘the big kahuna’ be sure it’s to a priest. The people of Hawaii were goverened by a concept known as Kapu, which to put it in terms your average American might understand, was stuff that the god’s said was holy.

For ancient Hawaiians, Kapu was a religion, and simultanously a way of life. It focused heavily on the opposing pairs, such as good and evil, day and night, sky and earth, and male and female. It’s origins can be traced to the Hawaiian’s Kumipilo, or creation story. During the day, sacred things, such as the gods, and man, were created. One side of every pair was considered to be sacred, or forbidden, and the other side was unsacred, or commonplace. The idea was that there were certaint things that would be kept sacred, for the gods, and other things that didn’t really upset the gods so much. The higher up the caste structure you were, the stricter Kapu was. The punishment for breaking Kapu was also severe, sometimes death in the form of human sacrifice. For instance, if a member of the servent class was found to be breaking Kapu, particularly in offense to a member of the Ali’i he could be sacrificed to one of the personal gods of that Ali’i member. Cool.

Kapu also had a large part in dictating which foods could be eaten, and at what times. For instance, the first crops of a harvest would be Kapu, but the rest of the harvest would be OK to eat. Certain foods, such as pork and bananas were Kapu, but others (dog and sweet potato) were OK to eat. In addition, it was forbidden for men and women to eat in each others presence. Kapu also dictated things relating to marriages between the ancient Hawaiian people. The idea of Kapu was, essentially, where the ancient Hawaiians got their customs from.

Kapu ended in 1819, during the reign of King Kamehameha I (what a fun name), when he violated Kapu by dining in the presence of females. At this point, when Kamehameha wasn’t smited into oblivion by one of the Hawaiian gods, the Hawaiians realized that Kapu was kind of a silly thing, and most of them just sort of abandoned it. At the time this was quite the social upheaval in paradise. In fact, Kamehameha was the first Hawaiian ruler not to recieve a sacrificial escort to the eternal beyond upon his death. This is actually quite startling, when you sit down and think about it. Because this can be viewed from out side of the Hawaiian’s cave, we can actually see it for what it was. The Hawaiians realized that their way of life, their religion, was bogus, so they just abandoned it. Which makes you wonder, what’s outside of our cave?

In light of the above paragraph, I will say this. I’m not using this to disprove anything, and I’m not saying that this means that any religion is bogus (except for Kapu, there’s really no arguing that one). I am saying, it’s enough to make you wonder.

We come back from our visit to ancient Hawaii, to find our word, taboo. To my limited knowledge it is no longer a religion or a way of life for any (normal-ish) person. But it does retain its meaning, sacred or forbidden. While we use it today much less rigidly than its inventors, and without punishment of human sacrifice, the basic idea is similar. And, quite fittingly, the original post which sparked this one is still true, when you trace it back to its roots. The things that we think are taboo, might not actually be taboo. I guess it all depends on whether or not you want to throw them out there, and have dinner with your mom. Thanks for reading.

The Double Down Experiment

So this is the true story about that time I went on a wild adventure one afternoon at work to get some of those breadless chicken sandwiches from Kentucky Fried Lard. I mean chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken. A few things you need to know before you read this, call it a disclaimer of sorts. I am a young, relatively wealthy, white, college kid. My parents both work hard to make money, and they use some of the money they make to help with the cost of my education. I don’t end up in neighborhoods where the main source of income is drug money very often. I am in a minority group however, in that I am one of the few remaining Americans who has common sense. So, know that you know a small amount about me, and the kind of eyes I view the world through, here’s the story.

It all started at about 3:30 p.m., when my boss had the idea that we should all try the double down chicken..thing from KFC. It was 3:30 p.m. in the information technology offices at Embry-Riddle, and our choices were either do this, or get to thinking about some of the moronical imbisiles that run the information technology department, and how they couldn’t pour piss out of a boot unless the instructions could be found on the first page of a google search. I think they would have appreciated us busying ourselves with this important task. Anyway, now that there was a concensus in our little cube to green light this mission, there was a frantic internet search for the nearest KFC from which to aquire our targets. And we found one. Since I am the student worker, I was elected to carry out the acquisition of chicken. Which is where the fun started.

The first thing you need to know about Daytona Beach, is that you should stay far far away from it. Unless you are a NASCAR fan, a motorcycle enthusiast, or a druglord. Or a NASCAR loving motorcycle riding druglord. Aside from the gargantuan speedway that is the center of attention, there’s really not much here worth seeing. If you want nice beaches, there are much nicer beaches to go ot literally anywhere else, where you won’t get hit by a car. If you just want somewhere tropical just bite the bullet, drive another couple hours and go to the keys. If you want an education in aerospace anything, there are other, better, less expensive places with less corrupt administrations. I digress. The location of the KFC was in a place that…well…you wouldn’t want your kids to be there. I arrived, and immediately had problems.

A car pulled in beside me, and I looked out the window while getting something out of my pocket, only to see several African Americans in the car next to me staring me down. Hm, I thought, that’s interesting. I decided to wait in the vehicle another 30 seconds before approaching the chicken. As it turns out, these folks were just dropping their nice friend off at work, and I had nothing to worry about. I walked into the joint, and up to the counter, and was greeted by the worker. This kid was the perfect example of ‘just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.’ Just because you can grow facial hair, doesn’t mean you should grow facial hair. And I know, I sometimes envy the dudes who can have a beard in like three days. Whenever I try to grow a beard, I just look like a pathetic looking dude who can’t grow a beard. But it’s ok, I’m over it. Really. Anyway, this little guy with a misplaced patch of beard on his chin (who’s voice was about three octaves higher than you’d think) asked me what I wanted and I said, “Four Double downs.”

He looked at me and said, “Hold on, I have to check if we have that many.” He came back and said, “We have to cook some, do you still want four?” I simply replied, “Yes.” I think he thought I wanted to die of cardiac arrest. “It’ll be about six minutes for them to cook,” the worker said. I said, “Ok.” Thus began the longest six minutes of…well…that afternoon.

I walked over to the railing that coralls the patrons of KFC into an orderly line before they die of heart failure, and leaned up against it. I then started observing things, because I have eyes. First, I took notice of the family that was eating a nice kentucky fried meal behind me. There was a dude who looked like he had just broke out of jail (I don’t mean to be stereotypical, but that’s what he looked like), his girlfriend or wife or partner who’s average size breasts were nearly falling out of her attention-grabbing shirt, and two very small children, one of whom was on a leash which I’m fairly certaint was to prevent it from attacking the other one. I don’t know there story, it might be a good one, but I don’t think the odds are in their favor. I felt bad for the kids.

The next event in those six minutes was a black man of about 50, with a white beard (which he could and should be sporting) walked in. He walked up to the counter, and while the little worker guy walked up to help him, I noticed him take a piece of paper out of his shirt. Odd, but not neccesarily out of place; he could have been sent by some other folks like I was. But then he started writing on the paper, and then showed the paper to the chin patch kid. Then chin patch kid, who was now quite perplexed, read the paper and then tried to decipher the mans order. Either chin patch kid was illeterate or white beard guy’s handwriting was hard to read because there was some misunderstanding between them.

I was leaning up against my railing, wishing I’d actually went out of my way to learn sign language the previous semester from the girl who sat next to me in structures who knew sign language. I don’t know if it would have helped, or if the guy was deaf or moot, but he obviously couldn’t talk or I’m guessing he would have. The scene in front of me was deteriorating rapidly, and the guy was fondling imaginary breasts on his chest in an attempt to tell the kid he wanted chicken breast. I also felt bad for this dude.

At about this point, a lady walked in and went through the corall and waited for her turn. She was also elderly, probably in her 60s. By appearances and simple guesswork, this wasn’t her first visit to KFC. She had on a fedora and a vest, and looked like she pretty much hated the world. This was confirmed for me in about 45 seconds. After 45 seconds, she was visibly irritated that a deaf man had the nerve to come into KFC before her, and did not have any sympathy for the chicken sharade that was now taking place at the counter. “Oh come on!” She looked around, and keenly discovered me leaning up against my railing right next to her, and I could see her mind going to work to attempt to gain strength by numbers. “Did you order yet?” she asked. “Yeah,” I said. Another half a minute. “Where’s the manager here?” she loudly inquisited. A short girl walked up to the counter and said “Did you order yet ma’am?” “NO,” fedora lady said, “But this guy did and he’s still waiting.” Oh great, I thought. “What did you have sir?” “I’m four double down guy, I know mines going to take six minutes,” I said. This seemed to diffuse the tension, and fedora lady’s plan.

Fedora lady then walked up and angrily ordered something, and angrily waited for it, when little chin patch dude came around the corner of the chicken rack holding a bag and said “Four double downs!” At last! “Thanks,” I said. I then took that bag and bee lined for the door. I didn’t want to get caught in any crossfire from fedora lady. I made it back to the office, and we distributed the chicken, and began masticating ourselves to an early death. As I felt the fat begin to ooze through my veins, I thought back to my time with deaf/moot man and fedora lady. And I realized I have quite a lot to be thankful for. If you’ve managed to find this blog, then I imagine that you do too.

The world, as I’ve come to see it, can be a pretty messed up place. I’m spoiled by it. I don’t have to spend a lot of time in KFC, with the likes of chin patch kid, fedora lady, kentucy fried family and so on. There are many things that could be better. There are a lot of people who are just out for what they want. Take a minute, think about all the things that you have, that you do. Be thankful for everything that means you don’t have to work at KFC, or become a Daytona druglord. It shouldn’t take a trip to KFC for me to do it. But yesterday, it did. I don’t know. Maybe I should get out more. Thanks for reading, everyone, see you soon.