Monday, July 12, 2010

The Rules of the Game

For some reason, Chris and I never taught our girls how to play Slugbug.

It may have been because, as parents, we’re not inclined to teach our children anything that involves hitting the nearest person. Maybe. We have nothing against the game when played by civilized people; we still play it with each other, just quietly in the front seat, but we've never bothered to fill the girls in on what we were doing.

However, as kids do, they eventually learned the rules from their friends. Or, rather, they learned their friends’ version of the rules.

My family growing up was pretty non-violent, as families go. Our version of Slugbug involved simply shouting “Slugbug!” whenever you saw one, but there was no actual slugging. I don’t remember if this was the result of an ultimatum by my parents, or if this was just how we had always played it.  (As a side note, there was a car in the town where I grew up that was painted to look just like Herbie.  Seeing that car was the highlight of our day.  In fact, before we knew about Slugbug, we called VW Bugs "Herbie cars".)

Chris’s family was considerable less non-violent (he has more brothers than I do, and at least one sister who’s not afraid to join the ruckus), and their version did involve slugging, along with hollering the color of the slugbug.

Vicki’s friend’s rules include the slugging and the color-shouting, with the additional rule that you are allowed to call “No tag-backs!” on the person you slug. This means they’re not allowed to slugbug you again unclear period of time. But at least not during that car journey. You are also allowed, apparently, to slug someone upon sighting a convertible, any convertible – doesn’t have to be a Bug – once per day.

In general, the version we play consists of someone yelling “Slugbug yellow! (or blue or red or whatever)” and soft-slugging someone else, usually me. They always gang up against me, unless Dad is in the car.

I refuse to call “no tag-backs” and ignore my children when they do it, but Vicki insists on it. Lexi picks and chooses her rules according to her mood at the time, and Ellie tags us for both Slugbugs and PT Cruisers. But she always adds “No tags back!”

There are, apparently, a set of official rules for this game (although I’d like to know under what authority this guy claims to be “official”.) But despite that, it’s clear that everyone has their own version.

So, the logical question is: how do *you* play Slugbug?
***Additional question, suggested by Lolee: do you call it "Slugbug", or "Punch Buggy", or something else entirely?


  1. We don't play slugbug, but Zack's scouts play "Penske". When you spot a yellow truck (I'm unclear whether it has to be an actual Penske truck) you hit the person next to you and yell "Penkse!!"

    It is a stupid game. If Zack does it to me, then I hit him back and yell something random that I see like "Van!" or "Blue car over there!"

  2. We play it, but its called Punch Buggy here. We don't yell the colors, just 'punch buggy!" and the punch the nearest person. (you could say "no punch backs", I think) I think the game that my siblings and I were more passionate about was called Piddidle, which is when you see a car with a missing headlight, yell out 'pididdle' and touch the roof of the car.

  3. p.s. I bet its called different things regionally! You know what else I've noticed is different regionally? The added on lyrics to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. We say that they called him names "Like Dumbo", never let him play games "like football" and that he'll go down in history, "like Lincoln!". What words do you use?

  4. I have heard people call it "Punch Buggy" before, and in that link the guy calls it that, but says that it's also known as "Slugbug". So that would be an interesting question to add to the original. In fact, I think I'll add it now!

    And as far as the Rudolph song goes, I've never heard anyone use your words. We say call him names "like Pinocchio", play games "like Monopoly", and go down in history "like George Washington", but we also sometimes say "like Abe Lincoln" or "like Elvis".

  5. I did not play it as a kid. I learned it much later, perhaps from my wife.
    But there is also the matter of calling Bread Loaf for a VW bus, though it has gone out of vogue, as the buses are so much rarer now.
    It makes me glad to think that I was the subject of a game when I rode in my grandparents' camper bus or drove my bug as a teenager.

  6. Weird. I've always said "like Columbus".

  7. It was always called "Slugbug" for us. You had to yell "slugbug (color)" and you could hit whoever as hard as you wanted--ideally without making them cry, or you'd get in trouble. I was usually the first to cry, though, so I probably had it easier than anyone else. It doesn't work for anything but VW bugs. And there is no such thing as no tag-backs; that rule must have been invented in a car full of girls because boys would never abide by it!

  8. Thankfully my kids are grateful when they can identify the color of the car so we aren't old enough to play slug bug yet.

  9. We have not yet informed our kids about this game. And I kinda want to keep it that way. It was outlawed in my family and Jared's family could care less. But my girls just shout out if the see and "Herbie Car" which is what they call them too. They also include PT Cruisers in the category.


Will blog for comments

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