Sunday, August 3, 2008

Slug Bug Red!

When I was a girl. . .as many stories in this house start, we didn't fly anywhere, we drove. I didn't travel by airplane until I was 15 years old, a laughable comparison to the Rooney boys who were both international travelers in their first year of life.

So all of us who grew up traveling by car -- before the age of in-car or portable DVD players, portable music players of any kind, or your parents making any effort whatsoever to entertain you except to reply to you in monotone that we'll be there "soon" -- we had to entertain ourselves with car games. Car games that didn't have any magnetic parts or pieces, just simple games that you played by talking to each other.

One of our favorites was My Grandfather Owns a Store. Surely you played this one, too. It starts out, "My grandfather owns a store, and in it he sells something that begins with . . ." and you choose a letter that corresponds with a product from the store and everyone else tries to guess it. Sort of like 20 questions about food. Unless you were being really devious and choose something like "C" and it was for charcoal. That was a good stumper. I'm guessing this game became annoying really quickly for my parents because my sisters and I used to say, "My grandfather owns a store, and he really does, and in it he sells. . ." We said it every, single time. How that must have grated on the old nerves on a drive to Florida in the brown Oldsmobile that I don't think had any air conditioning. But it was true. Grandpa did own the only grocery store, an IGA, in West Mansfield, Ohio. Clearly, we were very proud of this. Proud enough to be really, really annoying.

Another favorite game was the Cow Game. If you're not from some state that has large herds of cows grazing in pastures next to the road, you might not be too familiar with this one. Each kid takes a side of the car. As you drive and see cows, you count them and keep track. The first to get to a certain number, I think we used 100, won. The bummer--if you passed a cemetary on your side AND the other person saw it, your cows all "died" and you have to start over. We did some drives so often--Columbus, Ohio, to Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, for example--that we knew what side of the car was best to be on to win at this game. Cheaters.

And of course, there was the license plate game. You could play this one of two ways: try to get through the alphabet finding letters on license plates or look for as many different state plates possible. I think we usually did the letter version.

Finally, there was probably everyone's favorite: Slug Bug. Ah, the VW bug. Such an icon of the automobile world that it had its own car game. A simple, and yet painful, game. See a VW bug, lean over and slug the person next to you on the arm and shriek, "Slug bug red!" Or whatever color it was. I don't think it was actually so much of a game as a way to be loud and annoying in the backseat and cause bodily injury to others. We didn't play this one a lot. But then again, we were girls.

So what do kids do today when there really aren't that many bugs around to slug each other for anymore? The other day I found out. Declan, Finn and Garvin were in the backseat and suddenly someone yelled out, "Prius! Green!"

The times, they are a changin'.

Got a great car game? We've got a car trip ahead of us in August, so let's hear it!


Anonymous said...

We always did the license plate game - by states. Look for words on billboards that started with A, then B, etc. Another one that my kids did (and still do) is the windmill game. Kind of like the slug-bug game - you punch the others and yell windmill when you see a windmill. Guess that depends on where you're traveling (we see lots of them in Nebraska)! Another fun one is "I ate a ....." first person has to say what they ate, the next person adds a new one and also says the previous one(s). When you mess up, you're out! I always figured that was a memory game too! Another one is "ducking" when you go under an overpass, "lifting your feet" when you go over a bridge, "hold your breath" when you go through a tunnel. (Not many tunnels in NE!!)


1dreamr said...

Hmmm, you hit all the ones I remember. Then, of course, there were the songs -- singing "Row Row Row Your Boat" and "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" in a 'round' over and over and OVER again. And, I was an only child! My poor parents! :-)

Mountain Mama said...

A popular game for our family is "I am going on a picnic and I am going to take with me..." The first person says something that starts with A. Then the next person says I am going on a picnic... and I am going to take "the A item" and then adds a "B item". Third person says I am going on a picnic and I am going to take "A item" "B item" and then names a "C". Helps with memory and of course the alphabet. We call that "Carschool".

Cynthia said...

My kids have been playing car games as well. They now call it punch buggy, but it's the same game. There seems to be a comeback of them around here since we see them pretty regularly. Maybe they just don't do well in the mountains of Colorado.
I remember stuffing all 7 of the Owens and Garvins in your mom's slug bug to head out to Tullers for corn on the cob! Not much for seat belts back then either. I think there were usually two of us in the very back, very little part!

Mom on the Run said...

I grew up in England. Our version of the cow game was the pub game. When driving country roads, we would pass many, many signs for pubs. The object was to count the number of legs in the pub name..."Dog & Pony" was 8 points, "The Duck" was 2. The cheating part was coming to a pub called the "Morris Dancers"---you would yell out a million and win the game.

Another was the "polo mint" game. Everyone, including parents, would be given a Polo mint, a mint-type Lifesaver. The object was not to suck the mint. At some point we would compare who had the most intact polo mint. My dad would always cheat and start a new mint!

We took many car rides from Manchester to different parts of France. I think about these trip sand wonder how we survived the hours in the car, including a lengthy car ferry ride. Also, back then there (1970s) there were no fast food restaurants. If you wanted to stop and eat you had to stop at a "motorway cafe" on the highway or a restaurant in the nearest town.