Wednesday, August 27, 2008

sign of the times

::UPDATED WITH PLEA FOR USELESS, YET FASCINATING
(TO ME, ANYWAY) INFORMATION::


When I was a kid we used to play a game, the point of which I’ve entirely forgotten, but that involved counting what, in those innocent days, some of us called woodies and others called beavers. (Shut up. Like you had a better name for those station wagons with the fake-wood side panels.)

A few years ago, whenever my son and his friends would spot a VW Beetle, one of them would slug the other in the arm, shouting "Punch-buggy blue!" (or red or silver or green).

And yesterday, while walking home from the farmers’ market, hauling our reusable totes filled with pesticide-free, sustainably-farmed, locally-grown produce, we passed two boys standing on the corner with their parents, waiting to cross the street. One jumped and let out a small yelp and the other said gleefully, "Pinch for a Prius. No pinch-backs!”



Edited to add: Beruriah had the extremely interesting idea of exploring regional variations on these terms.

So, please, help expand our collective knowledge by telling us in your comment where you're from (in very general terms -- like Flyover Country, US, or Paris-of-the-Prairies, Canada*) and if, when they see a Volkswagen Beetle, people in your area say "punch-buggy," "slug bug," or some other variation.


*I'm assuming, perhaps completely wrongly, that this is a North American thing.

51 comments:

Bon said...

the more things change (the punch to pinch thing fascinates me)...the more we remain a funny little species.

i hope they get lots of pinches.

Tash said...

As long as they don't step off the curb into the oncoming path of a silent yet deadly golf cart . . . er, hybrid.

Rebecca said...

My cousins (aged 10 and 11) play this, only with "old cars". I was startled to find their definition of old cars is not classic or vintage but rather something like the old Ford Cortina my dad used to own! I'm not THAT old!

charmedgirl said...

i sometimes look around at the new-looking stuff like cars and the current trendy colors for kitchen remodels and such. i think about how obvious the dated stuff looks. then i try to look at all the trendy things and try to see them as passe. i wonder what new stuff will push it all out of favor. time is a bitch.

cinnamon gurl said...

Yikes I'm not ready for this.

Antigone said...

Better than "Slap for a Segway!"

Which Box said...

your commenters are very funny and take all the clever lines. What Charmed Girl, Tash, Antigone, and Bon said.

They must still play punch buggy? Even with the new ones?

LAS said...

My brother and I used to pucnh eath other whenever an oncoming car had a headlight burned out. I think this was just a made up excuse to hit each other!

painted maypole said...

i remember beavers and punch buggies. (but we called them "slug bugs" more often.)

prius pinches though? at least they kids are becoming aware of hybrids. It would be much easier to do a hummer hit.

wheelsonthebus said...

Wow. I had no idea the Prius had attained such status. (BTW, know I am not commenting much, but I am always reading)

gretchen said...

Our kids play Slug-Bug.

The sad thing is that I will be alone in the car. I'll see one and shout "green slug-bug!" to nobody but the goldfish crumbs on the floor. I feel really triumphant until I realize what I've done.

Maggie said...

Ha ha - that is too funny!

The Nanny said...

We didn't do "punch-buggy", we did "SLUGBUGNOTAKEBACKSDON'TBUGME!" in the loudest possible voice. (In case you don't want to read through that whole jumble of mess, that's Slug-Bug-No-Take-Backs-Don't-Bug-Me.")

LawMommy said...

My kids play "slug-bug", for VM bugs both new and old.

Beruriah said...

I think we need a regional analysis of "punch-buggy" versus "slug bug." In Illinois, we played Slug Bug. I like the "pinch for a prius" but I bet my husband will just role his eyes at me.

Hannah said...

We used to hit the ceiling and yell "pididdle" whenever we saw a car with one headlight.

I have no idea why.

Pinch for a Prius? Wacky. Next they'll come up with Slap for a SmartCar.

Clementine said...

Wow. Pinch for a Prius, huh? I'm feeling my age.

Monica H said...

We used to say 'slug bug' then knock the other person out- how fun!

And a Prius??? Give me a break!

Kristen said...

I grew up in Eastern Washington State. My brother and I played 'slug bug' and challenged eachother to see who would leave the largest bruise on the other. We also repeatedly counted squares in the plaid fabric of the bench back-seat to determine exactly where the middle was dare one or the other cross the magic line...
I think we also had some weird game where we had to put a finger on a screw, lift our feet, and hold our breath when we crossed railroad tracks... whatever we could find to entertain ourselves I guess on one of those horrible long Sunday afternoon drives my dad was famous for.

Libby said...

I live in Washington State as well, and we played almost the same game as the Nanny, "slugbugnoslugbacks." My 11 year old and her friends still play this game. But they've also made up names for various cars, like Honda Elements are toasters, for example, and Hummers are Bummers.

Ms. Planner said...

I grew up in TX and we used "slug bug." Now living in Portland, I feel sorry for kids who play the pinch-for-a-Prius. That would be seriously painful everytime you stepped into a car. This being the land of the Prii and all.

thirtysomething said...

My boys play "punch buggy, no punch-backs" or they play the X-box game where they race to see who can spot the most of those little scion box-looking cars with the X on the back.

'least they aren't killing each other for a few minutes anyway.

missing_one said...

I grew up in CA and we always used "slug bug"
interesting...very interesting.

Gwen said...

I grew up in Michigan and we said "slug-bug."

Beth said...

*is frankly bewildered*

Grew up in corn/dairy land. Never heard of any of these ... games?

Saw my first VW bug when I was ten.

(What? I grew up in farm country. Tractors and whatnot).

My children don't do this either, though they do enjoy identifying different types of cars. No pinching, punching or slapping involved.

Huh.

Rachel said...

From the great plains. We only did this with the old beetles and said, "slug-bug". This was especially fun when my sister actually owned one of these. We could hardly wait to round the corner to see if her car was home and punch a sibling.

Along the same lines, did anyone play "pa-diddle" for a missing headlight?

Emily said...

We played slug bug and padiddle in Oklahoma and Texas, growing up.

My girls play punch buggy, now, in Colorado.

Anonymous said...

Louisiana it was Slug a Bug and you'd "hit" or slug your carmate! Alternatively it was Beetle bop with the same friendly tap to your friend!
Claire

MckMama said...

Growing up in Wisconsin, the kids would say "padiddle" for a car with a headlight out and hit the ceiling of the car. They then earned a "point." A "pipdiddle" was a car with a taillight out.

We did "slug bug," too. I've never heard of "punch buggy" before!! We would say "slug bug red (or whatever color), no returns!" and punch our carmate in the arm.

We also played "Duck, duck, goose!" as children and it wasn't until I moved away for college that I learned that in other parts of the country it was played as "Duck, duck, grey duck!"

susan said...

We did padiddle, too, but not pipdiddle.

I found a site that describes the rules for punch buggy very carefully, which amused me: http://tinyurl.com/5a7p3s

Rasee said...

I'm from Bangkok, Thailand and as children we punched each other when we saw a VW Beetle. (We call them "turtle cars.")

Angela said...

I grew up in central Ohio, and we did "slug bug" with the requisite punch in the arm.

My friends and I still do padiddle, complete with hitting the roof, points (double for padiddle semis), rules about what to do if two or more people call a padiddle at the same time, and the ever-so-mature superstition that the winner at the end of the road trip will get, um, laid.

Manda said...

You will be pleased to know that inhabitants of Sydney Australia also play Punch Buggy :D

No colour call was required in our version, and yes, "colour" is spelled with a 'u' in it :P

Anonymous said...

I'm originally from Texas and we would play "white horse" where we would lick our thumb and stamp our palm. We also played padiddle but I think that was brought down by my North Dakotan ex-brother in law.
allpally

Anonymous said...

Oregon here... slug bug for beatles and double slug bug for the VW vans. There were LOTS of those in Oregon when I was growing up. Nothing about 'no slug backs' though.

There was something about one eyed cars and lots of rituals around tunnels, bridges, railway crossings, and of course corners when we were so young we didn't have the patience to wait for those other things. When we saw those other road changes, we held our breath or raised our feet or put our crossed fingers on the window or a combo depending on who we were with.

kirsty said...

Mmm interesting...

I am pleased to say that the games over here in Scotland do not involve any physical abuse.

The most exciting ours every got was each person picked a car colour and then you counted the number of cars that drove by in that colour.

Whoever had the highest number by the end of the journey won. Yipee! Most of the time we fell asleep at the forty-sixth red car which I think was the whole point. Thanks Mum!

Your game sounds more fun and lively though!

Little Miss Hopeful said...

yep, punch-buggy-no-punch-backs is still shrieked in back seats across Australia :)

Not just a north american thing...

Mad said...

Ontario, Canada. "Punch buggy" and "no pinch backs." We never played the game with what we called "Woody wagons."

diana said...

Wrongly, of course, Niobe!
In Eastern Europe, each time the other player sees first a...(you fill in whatever you are playing on), the slower one gets a smack on the head. My boys are playing this at least one zillion times a day!

gretchen said...

I posted above about my kids playing slug-bug (and me, too).

Didn't leave geographic info: born and raised in Colorado.

gretchen said...

I posted above about my kids playing slug-bug (and me, too).

Didn't leave geographic info: born and raised in Colorado.

Sarah said...

My siblings and I played "slug-bug" in Northern Colorado growing up.... all fun and games until we forgot to stop playing it when one of us got our license and I rear-ended a Volvo station wagon in the process of punching my brother victoriously in the arm. While he was in the backseat. And my dad was riding shotgun. The upside being that we were in stop and go traffic and no one seemed to get hurt, (not even the cars!) but I still feel bad when I remember the way that spaniel looked flying out of the cargo area and into the back seat of that Volvo! The driver got out, gave me a dirty look, and moved on with their life.

So we stopped playing that.

The weirdest one I'd heard of was from a hot guy I barely knew, who grew up in TN trading punches with his sister whenever they saw a J.B. Hunt tractor-trailer. We were on a rather unexpected road trip from WA State to Oklahoma, and sadly for him, I could recognize J.B. Hunt trucks faster and from a greater distance.

Not sure if I should be proud of that or not.

Yolanda (the callipygian chronicle) said...

In San Diego,CA we say Slug Bug.

Other variants~
For lovers: Every time you see a car with a headlight out, you say Popeye and give each other a kiss.

When going through a yellow light, tap the dash, then the ceiling. No idea why, was a thing we all did in high school.

excavator said...

Portland, Oregon: "Slug Bug! no slug-backs!"

Just Meim said...

I live in Utah, and a lot of people call mini-vans "MAVs" (pronounced "mauves"). It stands for Mormon Assault Vehicles.

What can I say? We're our own worst critics.

As for Beetles, they're "slug bugs" around my neck of the woods.

m said...

Ok, I'm in Australia and have NEVER heard of any such things! What a deprived childhood I had!

Beruriah said...

Wow - Thailand. Where did this "punch buggy" "slug bug" thing come from?

Beruriah said...

Oh hey - I just gave away my regional association again by ending a sentence with a preposition! Next thing you know I'll be taking the long rout to the crick and ask you to come with.

Tracey said...

In Illinois we did the punch buggy.

And padiddle for a headlight out. I won as the all-time champion of all times when I got a padiddle on a police car! Yes. I am still proud...

Carolyn said...

hey there :-)

I am enjoying reading your blog, I have gone right back to the beginning, such wonderful and terrible things you write about and I am hooked. Thank you :-)

I'm from Perth in Western Australia, we played the game with VW Beetles, but we said "spotto" and something else I can't remember. We didn't hit each other, but that might have been because we would have been in trouble for that!!

Carolyn

a- said...

We say "Punch-bug blue!" and then slug away. My boys play it now and it drives me nuts.