Monday, April 29, 2013
LUCY BURDETTE: On Facebook last week (isn't it always Facebook anymore?), some of my pals started talking about a game they played in the car as kids, which involved counting cows. One point per cow. But if you passed a cemetery on your side, all your points were erased. If that isn't training--for something!We played that game too, but it included other animals--horses were two points, sheep three, maybe pigs were four. And no cemeteries--we were too busy holding our breath passing those. We also played the license plate game, the rules of which I no longer remember.
And there was a game maybe idiosyncratic to my family, in which houses were distributed. On the way down to the Jersey Shore most weekends, my older sister and I would "claim" houses as we passed them. That one's for me, that's for you, and then occasionally a shack for my younger brother. Eventually he would cry and my mother would implore: "Give him a nice house, girls."
Nowadays, I imagine there are fewer games in the car because everyone's got a movie screen or an iPad instead. Maybe a lot less fighting too? Reds, what kinds of car games did you play?
HALLIE EPHRON: Oh we had a million of them. I spy, with my little eye (something pink...). And "I'm going on a trip and taking with me..." Each person adds on one more item and the next person has to remember everything 'packed' and add another. Then there's the game one person names a state (California) and the next person has to name one that begins with the state that that state ended with (Arkansas)... same game with vegetables, cities, you name it.
It does make the time pass without everyone killing each other.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, absolutely. We played "It's not the New York Yankees." Which we made up, but loved. It's a stream of consciousness game, where the first person starts "It's not the New York Yankees--its the confederate army." (Because see how that's connected?)
Then the next person says something like "its not the confederate army, its the army-navy game."
Then the next person would say somethig like: "Its not the army-navy game, it's Monopoly." (Because they're both games, see?)
And on and on, different, of course, every time.
And the way we played (This is when we were a bit older, of course) there could be no hesitation in answering, the only time you had to think was when you repeated what had come before.
My mother's favorite, of course, was: "Let's see who can be quiet the longest."
There was a HUGE rush, always, to say "I LOSE!"
RHYS BOWEN: My kids always played car games, the most frequent being the alphabet game. You had to spot a word beginning with a letter, then move on to the next and the first person to get through the alphabet won. And it couldn't be a license plate or behind you. My kids also played the license plate game--when you see an out of state plate you hit the person next to you and shout "Nevada!" My grand daughters play the slug bug game. One point for a VW bug, and five for a yellow one. I think that also involves hitting the person next to you and yelling "Slugbug."
We also used to play games involving songs--someone singing a TV theme song or commercial and the rest of us having to guess which show or product it was.
The great thing is that my grandchildren play the alphabet game--not easy for the Phoenix lot when we drive across the desert without a town for miles. And the 9 year old is really quick.
ROSEMARY HARRIS: Sometimes I think I slept through my entire childhood..or sprang fullblown into adulthood. I don't remember playing any car games.
I was quiet.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Lucy, you're right that ipods and mp3 players (and DVD players and Game Boys and smart phones) have dealt the death-knell to most car games. I remember playing many of the same ones the rest of you remember - though not Hank's family's "It's not the New York Yankees," which is way creative! And when my children were very small, we played simple "spot the animal/construction vehicle/color" games. But even before they all got their personal entertainment devices, our favorite diversion on long drives were audio books. We listened to most of the Harry Potter series, THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OX, CORALINE, and many others.
Now, of course, they all plug in and settle down.
My favorite riding-in-a-car story: as the mother of two toddlers (the Smithie and the Boy are only 15 months apart) I got used to pointing out all the fun sights as we drove through the Maine countryside. My mother was visiting, and we headed out for a just-us-grownups shopping trip. As we drove by a pasture, I automatically assumed the Romper Room voice and pointed out, "There's a cow!"
My mother gave me her driest look. "I've seen cows before, Jule."