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!